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What You Need to Know About Machine Tool Operator

Machine Tool Operator Definition 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

  • Measure dimensions of finished workpieces to ensure conformance to specifications, using precision measuring instruments, templates, and fixtures.
  • Set up future jobs while machines are operating.
  • Stack or load finished items or place items on conveyor systems.
  • Transfer commands from servers to computer numerical control (CNC) modules, using computer network links.
  • Stop machines to remove finished workpieces or to change tooling, setup, or workpiece placement, according to required machining sequences.
  • Maintain machines and remove and replace broken or worn machine tools, using hand tools.

Machine Tool Operator Needed Skills

Machine Tool Operators state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

Other Machine Tool Operator Job Titles

  • Jig Boring Machine Operator for Metal
  • Computer Numerical Control Lathe Operator (CNC Lathe Operator)
  • Numerical Control Machine Tool Operator
  • Medical Numerical Control Operator
  • Computer Numerical Control Machinist (CNC Machinist)

Is There Going to be 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.


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.

How Much Does a Machine Tool Operator Make?

Machine Tool Operators make between $26,890 and $60,650 a year.


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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Machine Tool Operators in different U.S. states.

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

Tools & Technologies Used by Machine Tool Operators

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 do I Become a Machine Tool Operator?

Individuals working as a Machine Tool Operator have obtained the following education levels:


What work experience do I need to become a Machine Tool Operator?


Where do Machine Tool Operators Work?


Below are examples of industries where Machine Tool Operators work:


You May Also Be Interested In…

Are you already one of the many Machine Tool Operator in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:


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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