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Machine Tool Operator

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All About Machine Tool Operators

Career Description Operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.

Daily Life Of a Machine Tool Operator

  • Implement changes to machine programs and enter new specifications, using computers.
  • Transfer commands from servers to computer numerical control (CNC) modules, using computer network links.
  • Calculate machine speed and feed ratios and the size and position of cuts.
  • Mount, install, align, and secure tools, attachments, fixtures, and workpieces on machines, using hand tools and precision measuring instruments.
  • Write simple programs for computer-controlled machine tools.
  • Control coolant systems.

Machine Tool Operator Skills

Below is a list of the skills most Machine Tool Operators say are important on the job.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Quality Control Analysis: Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Types of Machine Tool Operator

  • CNC Machinist (Computer Numerically Controlled Machinist)
  • Numerical Control Router Set-Up Operator
  • Brake Press Operator
  • Numerical Control Router Operator
  • CNC Technician (Computer Numerical Control Technician)

Is There Job Demand for Machine Tool Operators?

In the United States, there were 145,700 jobs for Machine Tool Operator in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 1.1% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,600 new jobs for Machine Tool Operator by 2026. There will be an estimated 14,500 positions for Machine Tool Operator per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Machine Tool Operators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Machine Tool Operator are Utah, North Dakota, and Montana. Watch out if you plan on working in Vermont, New Mexico, or Washington. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Machine Tool Operators Make A Lot Of Money?

The typical yearly salary for Machine Tool Operators is somewhere between $26,890 and $60,650.

Salary Ranges for Machine Tool Operators

Machine Tool Operators who work in Washington, Massachusetts, or North Dakota, make the highest salaries.

How much do Machine Tool Operators make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $38,170
Arizona $38,820
Arkansas $37,780
California $42,930
Colorado $43,990
Connecticut $47,240
Delaware $35,700
Florida $38,960
Georgia $37,510
Idaho $38,730
Illinois $39,570
Indiana $39,700
Iowa $40,740
Kansas $42,650
Kentucky $36,110
Louisiana $45,920
Maine $47,530
Maryland $44,080
Massachusetts $51,150
Michigan $40,500
Minnesota $45,670
Mississippi $36,250
Missouri $39,730
Montana $40,430
Nebraska $38,970
Nevada $42,850
New Hampshire $45,220
New Jersey $45,750
New Mexico $36,360
New York $38,700
North Carolina $38,780
North Dakota $49,590
Ohio $41,760
Oklahoma $39,730
Oregon $43,560
Pennsylvania $39,870
Rhode Island $42,710
South Carolina $43,220
South Dakota $38,630
Tennessee $39,140
Texas $41,560
Utah $35,220
Virginia $41,110
Washington $64,290
West Virginia $43,590
Wisconsin $44,190

What Tools do Machine Tool Operators Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Machine Tool Operators:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Project
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Computer aided design CAD software
  • Dassault Systemes CATIA
  • Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS
  • PTC Creo Parametric
  • Computer aided manufacturing CAM software
  • 1CadCam Unigraphics
  • CNC Mastercam
  • ERP software
  • Delcam PowerMILL
  • UGS Solid Edge
  • G-code
  • Vero Software SURFCAM

How to Become a Machine Tool Operator

What education is needed to be a Machine Tool Operator?

Machine Tool Operator Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become a Machine Tool Operator?

Machine Tool Operator Work Experience

Where Machine Tool Operators Are Employed

Machine Tool Operator Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Machine Tool Operator Industries

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Career changers with experience as a Machine Tool Operator sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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