Lead operator/machine operators work in industrial production. They are responsible for operating heavy machinery at manufacturing sites. They repair and install the machines as well, setting correct adjustments and performing maintenance work to ensure the equipment is always safe to use.

Working as a lead operator, you will be responsible for overseeing the work at your department. You will coordinate the various work phases and delegate tasks to make sure production quotas are delivered within the deadline. Training employees will be your job as well. Other than that, you will assist with any activity that ensures a steady workflow.

You need to be able to lead a team of workers in this position. Experience in manufacturing environments will be important, and sometimes an associate's degree in a technical field is also required. You will be working in rotating shifts, probably for long hours at a stretch. Being up to speed with safety regulations will be a relevant factor in evaluating your competence as well.

What Does a Lead Operator/Machine Operator Do

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a lead operator/machine operator, we found that a lot of resumes listed 13.2% of lead operator/machine operators included safety procedures, while 8.2% of resumes included machine operators, and 7.5% of resumes included quality standards. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

Learn more about what a Lead Operator/Machine Operator does

How To Become a Lead Operator/Machine Operator

If you're interested in becoming a lead operator/machine operator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 12.8% of lead operator/machine operators have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 1.3% of lead operator/machine operators have master's degrees. Even though some lead operator/machine operators have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Lead Operator/Machine Operator
Top Lead Operator/Machine Operator Jobs Near You

Lead Operator/Machine Operator Career Paths

Average Salary for a Lead Operator/Machine Operator

Lead Operator/Machine Operators in America make an average salary of $39,819 per year or $19 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $53,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $29,000 per year.
Average Lead Operator/Machine Operator Salary
$39,819 Yearly
$19.14 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Lead Operator/Machine Operator

There are several types of lead operator/machine operator, including:

Lead Operator


A lead operator is a mechanic who operates industrial machinery. They install, repair, and adjust industrial machines, perform routine maintenance on production equipment, and monitor operations, troubleshooting whenever necessary. They run quality tests and inspect products to make sure they reach the desired quality and adhere to standards.

Lead operators know their fair share about engineering and technology, and understand how to apply their knowledge in practical situations. They are familiar with raw materials and production processes and have insight on how to maximize productivity. They have a solid background in mathematics, as well, and have a strong affinity toward analytical thinking.

The average hourly salary of a lead operator in the U.S. is $18.26, and working hours are your usual 40 hours a week, often in rotating shifts.
  • Average Salary: $88,429
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Production Leader


A production leader is accountable for the entire production process for all or some products. They plan, organize, and recommend strategies to ensure that the product is developed in line with all specifications. They lead teams working in operations and product development. Additionally, they suggest operational changes, evaluate risks, and ensure adherence to safety procedures. Furthermore, they resolve production problems and conduct performance evaluations. Also, they prepare relevant reports and daily status updates as required. Moreover, they perform other duties as assigned by the manager.

To work as a production leader, you need to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in business management or a related field. Having relevant certifications is a plus. Candidates must have at least a year of relevant work experience. You must have problem-solving, communication, troubleshooting, organization, planning, and project management skills. Production leaders make an average salary of $59,261 annually. This falls between $33,000 and $107,000.

  • Average Salary: $44,563
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Lead Operator/Machine Operator Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active lead operator/machine operator jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where lead operator/machine operators earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Lead Operator/Machine Operator Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
9North Carolina2,304$38,356
14South Carolina1,650$38,995
15New York1,624$40,300
19New Jersey1,121$42,476
38New Mexico456$34,898
40New Hampshire449$37,518
41South Dakota280$36,464
43West Virginia269$34,529
46North Dakota209$41,676
47Rhode Island188$42,899

Lead Operator/Machine Operator Education

Lead Operator/Machine Operator Majors

26.9 %

Lead Operator/Machine Operator Degrees

High School Diploma

46.0 %


22.3 %


12.8 %

Top Skills For a Lead Operator/Machine Operator

Choose From 10+ Customizable Lead Operator/Machine Operator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Lead Operator/Machine Operator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Lead Operator/Machine Operator resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Lead Operator/Machine Operator Demographics

Lead Operator/Machine Operator Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among lead operator/machine operators, 22.1% of them are women, while 77.9% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among lead operator/machine operators is White, which makes up 59.0% of all lead operator/machine operators.

  • The most common foreign language among lead operator/machine operators is Spanish at 77.6%.

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Best States For a Lead Operator/Machine Operator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a lead operator/machine operator. The best states for people in this position are California, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii. Lead operator/machine operators make the most in California with an average salary of $44,300. Whereas in Delaware and Pennsylvania, they would average $44,177 and $44,164, respectively. While lead operator/machine operators would only make an average of $44,091 in Hawaii, 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.

1. Kansas

Total Lead Operator/Machine Operator Jobs: 979
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Pennsylvania

Total Lead Operator/Machine Operator Jobs: 2,604
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Minnesota

Total Lead Operator/Machine Operator Jobs: 1,714
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Lead Operator/Machine Operators

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Top Lead Operator/Machine Operator Employers

Most Common Employers For Lead Operator/Machine Operator

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Solectron Corp$87,489$42.0614
4Owens Corning$42,583$20.476
5Keurig Dr Pepper$42,191$20.287
7International Paper$41,127$19.7710
8Tyson Foods$40,903$19.6612

Lead Operator/Machine Operator Videos