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What Does a Press Machine Operator Do

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces.

Learn more about what a Press Machine Operator does

How To Become a Press Machine Operator

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.

Press Machine Operator Career Paths

Average Salary for a Press Machine Operator

Press Machine Operators in America make an average salary of $32,787 per year or $16 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $39,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
Average Press Machine Operator Salary
$32,787 Yearly
$15.76 hourly
$27,000
10 %
$32,000
Median
$39,000
90 %

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Press Machine Operator Education

Press Machine Operator Majors

23.6 %

Press Machine Operator Degrees

High School Diploma

52.2 %

Associate

16.7 %

Diploma

14.6 %

Top Skills For a Press Machine Operator

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, 23.1% of press machine operators listed car parts on their resume, but soft skills such as computer skills and dexterity are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Press Machine Operator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Press Machine Operator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Press 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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Press Machine Operator Demographics

Press Machine Operator Gender Distribution

Male
Male
79%
Female
Female
22%

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

  • Among press machine operators, 21.5% of them are women, while 78.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among press machine operators is White, which makes up 71.1% of all press machine operators.

  • The most common foreign language among press machine operators is Spanish at 71.8%.

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Best States For a Press Machine Operator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a press machine operator. The best states for people in this position are Wyoming, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington. Press machine operators make the most in Wyoming with an average salary of $40,163. Whereas in Minnesota and Montana, they would average $39,517 and $38,363, respectively. While press machine operators would only make an average of $37,987 in Washington, 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. Minnesota

Total Press Machine Operator Jobs:
744
Highest 10% Earn:
$47,000
Location Quotient:
1.65 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Hampshire

Total Press Machine Operator Jobs:
223
Highest 10% Earn:
$44,000
Location Quotient:
1.88 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Wisconsin

Total Press Machine Operator Jobs:
946
Highest 10% Earn:
$42,000
Location Quotient:
2.52 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Press Machine Operators

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Top Press Machine Operator Employers

Most Common Employers For Press Machine Operator

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Eaton$39,437$18.968
2Shutterfly$38,481$18.506
3Whirlpool$37,803$18.177
4Dana Incorporated$36,849$17.727
5Goodman Manufacturing$35,874$17.257
6Quad$35,578$17.1021
7Federal Mogul Corporation$35,125$16.896
8UGN$34,858$16.7610
9International Paper$34,651$16.668
10Hubbell$34,493$16.5811

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