Machine Operator Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Machine Operator Do?

Machine operators are responsible for the assembling, operating, and maintaining of advanced machinery. Although the education or background may depend on the type of machinery being used, these professionals ensure seamless production at maximum capacity and the peace of mind of a well-maintained operation.

These professionals improve performance and make routine checks to ensure maximum efficiency along and compliance with health and safety regulations. They can additionally be on hand to troubleshoot problems that arise so that downtime can be minimized.

This career involves a high degree of hands-on work and a detail-oriented mindset. Analytical thinking and problem-solving are a must for this position. Generally, a machine operator will be expected to function as part of a team contributing to a large project goal.

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National Average Salary

Machine operator salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Machine Operator is:


Machine Operator Job Descriptions

Crafting the perfect job description may be the key to finding an exceptional machine operator. To help you with your recruiting search, our team has put together some examples from past openings.

Example 1

Skilled Machine Operators play an important role in the daily operations of our company. There are a variety of roles and responsibilities within this title. The types of roles include but are not limited to, performing various rendering and tissue processes, operating heavy equipment, charting and reporting progress and yields, and in many cases the use of tracking via computer, all while making safety the number one priority. While performing the duties of a Skilled Machine Operator, the employee is regularly exposed to moving mechanical parts and fast-paced environments. Positions require standing or walking the entire shift, the use of stairs, and occasionally the use of PPE. You should have proven experience operating and maintaining high-speed machinery, a good understanding of production procedures and best practices, and good physical stamina.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Calibrate machines to ensure proper startup and operation
  • Routinely check and clean machines
  • Monitor and control machine performance and settings
  • Regularly test machine performance and operating capacity
  • Adhere to safe work practices
  • Communicate with team members and support teams to ensure continuous production of the correct product with minimal wasted time and materials
  • Install, maintain, and repair machinery using appropriate tools
  • Work with others to ensure equipment is in proper working order
  • Observe and follow company safety rules and regulations
  • Maintain a log of the activity
  • Regularly submit performance reports

Education and experience

  • High School Diploma/GED
  • Aptitude for math, problem-solving, computers, and mechanics
  • Associates degree or completion of related apprenticeship program preferred.
  • 3-5 years of related experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions
  • Ability to interpret and implement blueprints, schematics, and manuals
  • Ability to quickly learn production equipment
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Significant experience with diverse high-speed machinery and measurement tools٫ such as calipers, micrometers, etc.
  • Excellent understanding of production procedures
  • Attention to detail
  • Physical stamina and strength
  • Knowledge of different types of machines and tools

Preferred qualifications

  • Strong teamwork and communication skills
  • Experience in a high-speed machine operation environment
  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to work independently
  • Solid written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficiency in math
  • Basic computer skills

Example 2

The machine operator is responsible for the continuous production of LNC. Projects and the production of LNC take place in the field, where temporary field production sites are set up to serve each project. The machine operator spends most of the time in the field operating LNC production for project deliveries, and as a person you are:

  • Self-motivated, highly dedicated professional motivated by driving sustainable change
  • Proactive individual who remains focused and productive under pressure
  • Committed to ongoing professional learning and development
  • You have experience with the operation of machines or heavy equipment, you are able to follow detailed instructions and processes, and you have good problem-solving skills
  • You are driven by a desire to be part of our team and make our earth green again!


  • Execute efficient continuous production of Liquid Natural Clay (LNC)
  • Run production cycles by setting up machines according to specific formulation instructions (calibration, etc.)
  • Control and regulate machine settings, as well as monitor input and output control
  • Inspect raw material and production processes with high precision
  • Feed raw materials or parts to semi-automated machines
  • Ensure production batches consistently run according to formulation and instructions (including processing time, production steps and stages, loading, offloading, etc.)
  • Ensure optimal utilization of machines and production equipment throughout the work hours
  • Test system operation regularly
  • Address any problems that might arise during the change
  • Check performance for any machine-related errors or flaws
  • Escalate any issues or service disruptions that cannot be resolved swiftly to the Field Engineer
  • Support the team in other areas and carry out various fieldwork tasks as required


  • Experience with operating heavy machinery and mechanical equipment
  • Experience with production processes involving managing formulation and composition of ingredients etc.
  • Experience working with production processes involving liquids/fluids
  • Fluent in English is a requirement. Additional Spanish language skills are an advantage

Personality traits

  • You are technically literate and pay attention to details
  • You think on your feet, react, and respond to situations quickly and proactively
  • You are a team player able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously without confusion
  • You are enthusiastic with positive energy that inspires people around you
  • You are a good problem solver able to control situations and maintain a peaceful working environment
  • You remain attentive and focused even when doing repetitive tasks over long periods
  • You respect health and safety and actively promote this to your coworkers
  • You always go the extra mile and perform well under pressure
  • You are an effective problem solver
  • You are a hard worker, intensely driven, determined, goal-oriented, and intrinsically motivated
  • You are super focused and never diverge from your objectives, no matter how many obstacles you face
  • You are committed to delivering results; giving up is never an option


  • Mechanical operator skills.
  • Ability to operate control systems, pumps, valves, flowmeters, etc.
  • Understanding of manufacturing and production procedures
  • Adherence to health and safety laws
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork and communication
  • Physical stamina and strength
  • Ability to handle heavy equipment
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Self-motivated, hands-on, proactive, and independent
  • Enjoy working in multi-disciplinary and highly diverse teams

Example 3

Job summary

Operate or tend one or more types of cutting or forming machine tools. May include such machine tools as band saws, chop saws, hand sanders, and a variety of hand tools.


  • Operate machines to cut, shape, drill, or mill non-metallic material
  • Read job specifications to determine machine adjustments and material requirements
  • Align layout marks with die or blade. Set machine stops or guides to specified lengths as indicated by scale, rule, or template. Install machine components, such as chucks or cutting tools, according to specifications
  • Remove burrs or sharp edges from the workpiece, using a file, hand grinder, wire brush, or power tools. Verify conformance to specifications
  • Examine completed work pieces for defects, such as chipped edges and marred surfaces, and sort defective pieces according to defect
  • Perform minor machine maintenance, such as oiling or cleaning machines, dies, or workpieces, or adding coolant to the machine reservoir
  • Other duties as assigned

Nature and scope

  • Refers complex, unusual problems to the supervisor
  • Under general supervision, exercises some judgment in accordance with well-defined policies, procedures, and techniques. Work typically involves regular review of output by a senior coworker or supervisor

Work environment

  • Typically in a comfortable environment but with regular exposure to factors such as temperature extremes, moving machinery, loud noises, and fumes, which may cause noticeable discomfort or a moderate risk of accident or illness
  • No travel required
  • Requires intermittent periods during which continuous physical exertion is required, such as walking, standing, stooping, climbing, lifting, and maneuvering material or equipment, some of which may be heavy (50+ pounds) or awkward


  • Must be a minimum of 18 years of age or older
  • Must pass the pre-employment assessment(s) if applicable

Education and experience

  • HS Diploma or GED is strongly preferred. Specialized skills training/certification may be required. Generally 2-5 years of experience in the area of responsibility.

Example 4

The individual who fills this position will be responsible for running the machine for processing, rejecting, and/or re-associating incoming mail daily. This position is considered a production-oriented position, which includes adherence to Client based service level agreement goals.


  • Lockbox experience – nice to have
  • Knowledge of MS Office, including Excel, Outlook, and Word
  • Ability to lift 20 to 30 lbs.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Quality and production are extremely important
  • Experience with multitasking
  • Attention to detail and organization skills
  • Performs clerical task functions as needed
  • High school diploma or GED


  • You will be running a machine and making sure all processed documents are going in correctly
  • Standing job 90% of the time and more hands-on type of role
  • Working independently but being a team player. Minimum supervision
  • Performs clerical tasks functions as needed

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • OSHA Safety Certificate. This is a 40-hour program that covers construction and general industry safety standards. Candidates will learn about health issues related to a work environment, how to recognize physical hazards in violation of OSHA standards, and employer implementation of proactive safety and health procedures.
  • Certificate of Completion (CCL) in CNC Machine Operator. Many community colleges offer this certificate program that prepares candidates for entry-level positions as machine operators and technicians. They’ll learn the skills needed to operate Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines in the manufacturing industry. This certificate shows candidates have the skills needed to excel in the industry.  
  • Machine Tool Technology. This certificate is offered through tech schools and teaches students hands-on mechanical as well as computer control machining. The program develops the knowledge and skills necessary to perform machining operations. The Certifications are nationally recognized and give graduates a great opportunity to land the best jobs as machine operators and to earn higher wages.

How to Hire a Machine Operator

When hiring a machine operator, first consider the following:

  • Recruiting: Do you have the knowledge, tools, and resources to attract and screen candidates?
  • Complexity: Do you need a senior professional, or will mid or junior-level skills and experience suffice?
  • Duration: Is this a one-time project or an ongoing need?
  • Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effectively?
  • Urgency: How soon does the work need to be completed?
  • Headcount: Do you have the budget and approval for an internal employee, or should you consider alternate options?

Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, great options exist for every scenario. These are our recommendations:

1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)

The heavy lifting is done for you when working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.

This is the best route to take when:

  • You need to fill the position quickly
  • You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
  • Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
  • You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff. 
  • You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
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2. Advertise your opening on a top job board

Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice. 

We recommend using a job board when:

  • Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
  • You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort 
  • You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
  • You are prepared to respond to all applicants

We recommend using CareerBuilder when hiring a machine operator:


CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.

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3. Leverage your internal resources

You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates. 

A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.

We recommend these options when:

  • Your brand has great name recognition
  • You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
  • You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
  • You have an effective employee referral program in place

If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What do you enjoy about working in production?
  • How do you respond to other employees committing security and hazard violations?
  • Can you tell us how you worked through an issue in your previous job?
  • How do you handle missed production deadlines?
  • What machines do you have experience with?
  • How do you perform quality checks to ensure equipment is working properly?
  • How do you maintain equipment logs?
  • How do you prioritize when multiple machines need to be repaired?
  • What must you do before starting a production cycle?
  • Why is quality assurance important as a machine operator?
  • How do you respond if your supervisor asks you to hold off on repairing a faulty machine until the daily production quota has been met? 
  • What tools do you regularly use on the job?  
  • Would you rather work alone or as part of a team? Why? 
  • What process do you employ when performing maintenance on a machine?
  • Do you have experience programming machines? 
  • What do you do when you make a mistake in measuring parts or final products?  
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a coworker. What was the issue and how was it resolved?

Need help hiring a Machine Operator?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. From filling urgent job openings to developing long-term hiring strategies, our team is here to help. Review our staffing solutions, browse our award-winning Staffing Corner blog, or call today. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

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