Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces.
A few months of on-the-job training is enough for most workers to learn basic machine operations, but 1 year or more is required to become proficient. Computer-controlled machine workers may need more training.Education
Employers prefer metal and plastic machine workers who have a high school diploma. Prospective workers can improve their employment opportunities by completing high school courses in computer programming and vocational technology, and by gaining a working knowledge of the properties of metals and plastics. Having a sturdy math background, including taking courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and basic statistics, is also useful.
Some community colleges and other schools offer courses and certificate programs in operating metal and plastics machines.Training
Machine operator trainees usually begin by watching and helping experienced workers on the job. Under supervision, they may start by supplying materials, starting and stopping the machines, or by removing finished products. Then they advance to more difficult tasks that operators perform, such as adjusting feed speeds, changing cutting tools, and inspecting a finished product for defects. Eventually, some develop the skills and experience to set up machines and help newer operators.
The complexity of the equipment usually determines the time required to become an operator. Some operators and tenders learn basic machine operations and functions in a few months, but other workers, such as computer-controlled machine tool operators, may need a year or more to become proficient.
Some employers prefer to hire workers who either have completed or are enrolled in a training program.
As the manufacturing process continues to utilize more computerized machinery, knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines can be helpful.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certification can show competence and professionalism and can be helpful for advancement. The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) offers certification in numerous metalworking specializations.Advancement
Advancement usually includes higher pay and more responsibilities. With experience and expertise, workers can become trainees for more advanced positions. It is common for machine operators to move into setup or machinery maintenance positions. Setup workers may become industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers, or machinists or tool and die makers.
Experienced workers with good communication and analytical skills may move into supervisory positions.Important Qualities
Computer skills. Metal and plastic machine workers must often be able to use programmable devices, computers, and robots on the factory floor.
Dexterity. Metal and plastic machine workers who work in metal and plastic machined goods manufacturing use precise hand movements to make the necessary shapes, cuts, and edges that designs require.
Mechanical skills. Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machinery. They must be comfortable working with machines and have a good understanding of how the machines and all their parts work.
Physical stamina. Metal and plastic machine workers must be able to stand for long periods and perform repetitive work.
Physical strength. Metal and plastic machine workers must be strong enough to guide and load heavy and bulky parts and materials into machines.
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The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.1% of Casters listed Heavy Equipment on their resume, but soft skills such as Computer skills and Dexterity are important as well.
Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Caster. The best states for people in this position are Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York. Casters make the most in Iowa with an average salary of $37,114. Whereas in Michigan and New Jersey, they would average $36,823 and $35,112, respectively. While Casters would only make an average of $35,084 in New York, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.
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