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Welder-Machine Operator Overview

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Working As a Welder-Machine Operator

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

  • Repetitive

  • $29,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Welder-Machine Operator Do

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


Metal and plastic machine workers typically do the following:

  • Set up machines according to blueprints
  • Monitor machines for unusual sound or vibration
  • Insert material into machines, manually or with a hoist
  • Operate metal or plastic molding, casting, or coremaking machines
  • Adjust machine settings for temperature, cycle times, and speed and feed rates
  • Remove finished products and smooth rough edges and imperfections
  • Test and compare finished workpieces to specifications
  • Remove and replace dull cutting tools
  • Document production numbers in a computer database

Consumer products are made with many metal and plastic parts. These parts are produced by machines that are operated by metal and plastic machine workers. In general, these workers are separated into two groups: those who set up machines for operation and those who operate machines during production, however, many workers perform both tasks.

Although many workers both set up and operate machines, some specialize in one of the following job types:

Machine setters, or setup workers, prepare the machines before production, perform test runs, and, if necessary, adjust and make minor repairs to the machinery before and during operation.

If, for example, the cutting tool inside a machine becomes dull after extended use, it is common for a setter to remove the tool, use a grinder or file to sharpen it, and reinstall it into the machine. New tools are produced by tool and die makers.

After installing the tools into a machine, setup workers often produce the initial batch of goods, inspect the products, and turn the machine over to an operator.

Machine operators and tenders monitor the machinery during operation.

After a setter prepares a machine for production, an operator observes the machine and the products it makes. Operators may have to load the machine with materials for production or adjust the machine’s speeds during production. They must periodically inspect the parts a machine produces. If they detect a minor problem, operators may fix it themselves. If the repair is more serious, they may have an industrial machinery mechanic fix it.

Setters, operators, and tenders are usually identified by the type of machine they work with. Job duties generally vary with the size of the manufacturer and the type of machine being operated. Although some workers specialize in one or two types of machinery, many are trained to set up or operate a variety of machines. Machine operators are often able to control multiple machines at the same time because of increased automation.

In addition, new production techniques, such as team-oriented “lean” manufacturing, require machine operators to rotate between different machines. Rotating assignments results in more varied work but also requires workers to have a wide range of skills.

Computer-controlled machine tool operators operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform functions on metal or plastic workpieces.

Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers develop computer programs to control the machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems.

Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate machines to extrude (pull out) thermoplastic or metal materials in the form of tubes, rods, hoses, wire, bars, or structural shapes.

Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate machines that shape or form metal or plastic parts.

Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate machines to roll steel or plastic or to flatten, temper, or reduce the thickness of materials.

Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate machines to saw, cut, shear, notch, bend, or straighten metal or plastic materials.

Drilling and boring machine tool setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate drilling machines to drill, bore, mill, or countersink metal or plastic workpieces.

Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate grinding and related tools that remove excess material from surfaces, sharpen edges or corners, or buff or polish metal or plastic workpieces.

Lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate lathe and turning machines to turn, bore, thread, or form metal or plastic materials, such as wire or rod.

Milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate milling or planing machines to shape, groove, or profile metal or plastic workpieces.

Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders operate or tend furnaces, such as gas, oil, coal, electric-arc or electric induction, open-hearth, and oxygen furnaces. These furnaces may be used to melt and refine metal before casting or to produce specified types of steel.

Pourers and casters operate hand-controlled mechanisms to pour and regulate the flow of molten metal into molds to produce castings or ingots.

Model makers set up and operate machines, such as milling and engraving machines to make working models of metal or plastic objects.

Patternmakers lay out, machine, fit, and assemble castings and parts to metal or plastic foundry patterns and core molds.

Foundry mold and coremakers make or form wax or sand cores or molds used in the production of metal castings in foundries.

Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate metal or plastic molding, casting, or coremaking machines to mold or cast metal or thermoplastic parts or products.

Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate more than one type of cutting or forming machine tool or robot.

Welding, soldering, and brazing machine setters, operators, and tenders (including workers who operate laser cutters or laser-beam machines) set up or operate welding, soldering, or brazing machines or robots that weld, braze, solder, or heat treat metal products, components, or assemblies.

Heat treating equipment setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate heating equipment, such as heat treating furnaces, flame-hardening machines, induction machines, soaking pits, or vacuum equipment, to temper, harden, anneal, or heat-treat metal or plastic objects.

Plating and coating machine setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate plating or coating machines to coat metal or plastic products with zinc, copper, nickel, or some other metal to protect or decorate surfaces (includes electrolytic processes).

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How To Become A Welder-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.


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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Welder-Machine Operator Career Paths

Welder-Machine Operator
Welder Technician Team Leader
Production Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Foreman Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Welder Foreman Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Laboratory Technician Quality Assurance Technician
Quality Assurance Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Technician Production Supervisor
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Foreman Production Supervisor
Quality Control Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Welder Fitter Technician Production Supervisor
Planting Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Welder Fitter Maintenance Technician Shop Foreman
Shop Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Welder Fitter Numerical Control Operator Numerical Control Programmer
Computer Numerical Controller Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Specialist Operations Specialist
Lead Operator
5 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Maintenance Technician Pipe Welder
Welding Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Specialist Underwriter
Processing Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Computer Numerical Controller Machinist Numerical Control Programmer
Lead Machinist
6 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Shop Foreman Lead Welder
Lead Fabricator
5 Yearsyrs
Operator Manufacturing Technician Manufacturing Supervisor
Materials Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Operator Quality Technician Line Leader
2nd Shift Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Operator Inspector Field Inspector
Lead Inspector
6 Yearsyrs
MIG Welder Pipe Welder Lead Person
Shift Production Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
MIG Welder Pipe Welder Welding Supervisor
Fabrication Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Welder 3.5 years
Machine Operator 3.2 years
Welder-Assembler 3.0 years
TIG Welder 2.9 years
MIG Welder 2.8 years
Welder Operator 2.8 years
Spot Welder 2.6 years
Machine Welder 2.5 years
Table Operator 2.3 years
Aluminum Welder 2.2 years
Welder Apprentice 1.7 years
Welder Assistant 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Welder-Machine Operator
Welder 20.9%
Cashier 6.1%
Supervisor 2.8%
Assembler 2.8%
Cook 2.6%
MIG Welder 2.0%
Top Careers After Welder-Machine Operator
Welder 24.6%
Driver 3.1%
Supervisor 2.7%
Cashier 2.6%
MIG Welder 2.5%
Operator 2.5%
Owner 2.3%
Technician 2.1%

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Average Yearly Salary
Show Salaries
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Stanley Black & Decker
Highest Paying City
Waukesha, WI
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does a Welder-Machine Operator make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Welder-Machine Operator in the United States is $29,271 per year or $14 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $25,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $33,000.

Real Welder-Machine Operator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Welding Machine Operator, Arc EDI Precast, LLC Upper Marlboro, MD Apr 06, 2012 $54,080
Welding Machine Operator, Arc Rizzo, Inc. DBA Owen Mills Company CA Oct 01, 2012 $52,738
Welding Machine Operator Well Service & Supply, Inc. LA Feb 15, 2012 $38,610
Welding Machine Operator Cad Signs LLC North Bergen, NJ May 07, 2009 $33,475
Welding Machine Operator J & E Welding Inc. Beaumont, TX Mar 23, 2011 $33,392 -
Welding Machine Operator Palmetto Construction, Inc. FL Apr 25, 2011 $30,888

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Top Skills for A Welder-Machine Operator

  1. Car Parts
  2. Drill Press
  3. Safety Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operate robotic welding machines, run car parts
  • Operated lathe machine, milling machine, drill presses, as well as, welded.
  • Maintain safety procedures at all time.
  • Operated heavy equipment to fabricate precision metal parts.
  • Operated various industrial machinery including robotic welder, slider, CNC wire bender, press brake, and parts oven.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Welder-Machine Operators

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Iowa
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Alaska
  6. Ohio
  7. Wyoming
  8. Nebraska
  9. Minnesota
  10. Michigan
  • (47 jobs)
  • (51 jobs)
  • (296 jobs)
  • (436 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (578 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (93 jobs)
  • (325 jobs)
  • (335 jobs)

Welder-Machine Operator Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 2,699 Welder-Machine Operator resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Welder-Machine Operator Resume

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Welder-Machine Operator Demographics










Hispanic or Latino


Black or African American





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Welder-Machine Operator Education


Tulsa Welding School


Grand Rapids Community College


University of Phoenix


Ashford University


Sinclair Community College


Oakland Community College


Baker College


Wayne Community College


Hinds Community College


Henry Ford College


Kalamazoo Valley Community College


Florence-Darlington Technical College


Bluegrass Community and Technical College


Lansing Community College


North Georgia Technical College


The Academy


Augusta Technical College


East Mississippi Community College


A-Technical College


Washtenaw Community College

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Precision Metal Working




General Studies


Criminal Justice


Automotive Technology


Industrial Technology


Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering Technology


Computer Science


Health Care Administration


Medical Assisting Services


Graphic Design


Apparel And Textiles






Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians








Mechanical Engineering

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