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Become A Sheet Metal Operator

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Working As A Sheet Metal Operator

  • Getting Information
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $26,157

    Average Salary

What Does A Sheet Metal Operator Do At Raytheon

* Works to verbal, written, video and computer instruction.
* Sets up and utilizes any necessary equipment/tooling to perform task
* Duties would include layout, construction, cleaning, spot weld, drilling, grinding, mechanical assembly and inspection.
* Advances or retrieves product, material and tooling for self and others.
* Performs general maintenance and housekeeping of workplace, tools and equipment.
* Maintains records, moves materials and follows safety rules in performance of duties.
* Performs other similar duties as required or directed

What Does A Sheet Metal Operator Do At LMI Aerospace

* Follows all company and work center specific production, administration and safety policies and procedures.
* Attends and actively participates in all required training.
* Reviews manufacturing planning, part-specific engineering information, set-up information and/or related instructions to understand appropriate work process and quality requirements for completed product.
* For machine dependent operations, selects proper tooling, programs and edits to machines (i.e. set-up machine) and starts and observes machine operation during first part production to detect malfunctions or out-of-tolerance conditions.
* Adjusts machine controls or other control media as required.
* Depending upon work center assignment, the operator will set-up and operate but not limited to one or more of the following machines: roll form, turret, brake press, hyrdopress and drill press.
* Uses gauges, scales, calipers, mylars and/or blueprints, customer tools and other measuring equipment to check first part quality.
* Obtains first part for buy-off from lead person, supervisor, quality control inspector and/or second team member.
* Upon buy-off, completes production run for the manufacturing planning operation.
* Performs 100% inspection of all parts, subsequent to first part buy-off, and completes requirements of applicable statistical process control plans.
* Where available, uses target times to evaluate timely completion of work.
* Notifies lead person or supervisor about substantive discrepancies between manufacturing planning target time and actual set-up and/or run times.
* Responsible for minor machine maintenance and maintaining proper alignment and condition of machine.
* Completes required documentation, including but not limited to: manufacturing planning operation buy-off, recording of accurate part counts, labor card entry, set-up information, special notes, data collection plans, tie-in information and recording the disposition of non-conforming material.
* Tears down machine or hand tool set-up upon completion of production run, returning all tools, equipment and accessories to their proper locations.
* Moves complete part order to next manufacturing operation or staging area.
* Works with others, using continuous process improvement tools and techniques and just-in-time manufacturing techniques, to develop and install process improvements that positively impact manufacturing through-put, machine and human resources utilization, space utilization, organization and other factors.
* Assists to incorporate process improvements into document instructions.
* Actively participates in work center and cross-functional process improvement teams by attending team meetings, completing action items, encouraging complete and respectful discussion and understanding of goals, alternatives and solutions.
* Work in a fast paced environment with fast changing priorities, providing a high level of attention to detail and focus on a given task and keeping work area clean and organized
* Complete other duties as assigned by the management team including working as needed in various other positions to support work flow and to fill in for other team members

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How To Become A Sheet Metal 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.


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.


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 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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Sheet Metal Operator jobs

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Sheet Metal Operator Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Black or African American

  • Unknown

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish


Sheet Metal Operator

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Sheet Metal Operator Education

Sheet Metal Operator

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Top Skills for A Sheet Metal Operator


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Top Sheet Metal Operator Skills

  1. Assembly Department
  2. Automatic Hand Tools
  3. CNC
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Receive work orders and program CNC machine or brake press to spec's off the blue prints.
  • Produced quality product in brass, copper, stainless steel, cold and hot rolled steel and most aluminum variations.
  • Created & ran complex bend setup & forming operations.
  • Operate, trouble shoot and repair all punch presses and other various machinery.
  • Form parts for assembly lines.

Top Sheet Metal Operator Employers

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Sheet Metal Operator Videos

Job Shop Life! Example of a CNC Machine Shop Job!

Beginners Guide to Manual & CNC Machining!

A Day in the Life of a Welder/Pipefitter