What Does Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic Do?
In the production industry, computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic perform integral function as they operate and control various technologies. An operator will measure, install and align machines destined to work with metal and/or plastic products. These professionals will then ensure the machines perform their designated functions. Additionally, operators may be tasked with performance tests and troubleshooting responsibilities.
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic Skills and Abilities
As with any profession, machine operators will develop a specific set of skills while in training and on the job. Successful professionals often possess these abilities:
- Critical thinking: When troubleshooting mechanical issues, the root of the problem is not always readily apparent. Operators must use logic and reasoning to determine the cause of the issue and find an appropriate solution.
- Fast reflexes: Operators must respond quickly to visual and auditory cues to ensure smooth production.
- Quality control analysis: When necessary, these professionals will conduct diagnostic tests and measure the quality of machine output.
- Near vision: Operators work in close proximity to delicate machines and need to see details within a few feet.
- Management and oversight: During operation, these professionals must remain aware of their robots and machines in order to catch any issues early.
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic Duties
Your exact duties and responsibilities will vary with your employer and client. However, you can generally expect your daily tasks to be categorized as follows:
- Gathering information: When troubleshooting or filling an order, operators must understand exactly what is expected and needed. Thus, they must gather details from superiors, manuals and peers.
- Inspecting equipment: Functionality is the main goal and that requires consistent inspection of all machines and robots. Otherwise, small issues become production stopping problems.
- Problem solving: After gathering information, operators must synthesize these details into workable solutions.
- Communicating: Tool operators are an important part of a production team. As such, they must communicate frequently and effectively through written, verbal and electronic mediums.
- Controlling robots and machines: Either remotely or through direct physical contact, operators will be responsible for machine and robot performance.
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic Tools and Technology
In the field, operators will encounter a range of professional equipment and software similar to the following:
- CAD programs
- Tracer, contouring, or duplicating lathe
- Scientific software
- Traveling column milling machine
- CAM software
- Project management interfaces
Additionally, if you switch employers, you can often learn their systems quickly due to the similarity.
Education and Training for Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic
For this profession, entry-level job candidates do not need any higher education degrees or certificates. High school diplomas and the equivalent are the industry standard. Additionally, internships, apprenticeships and related work experience are not mandatory for this field. Instead, new hires will receive on-the-job training for a moderate amount of time.
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic Salary
Even entry-level tool operators can expect a livable wage at an average $23,700 annually for the lower ten percent of professionals. The median annual salary is $36,400 for the industry, while the highest paid professionals in the top ten percent can see $55,400. These are national averages and annual salaries will vary depending on your state and city of employment.
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic Jobs by Geography
In terms of number of working professionals, Texas, Wisconsin and Ohio are ahead of other states with over 9,000 professionals each. That said Georgia, North Dakota and Louisiana show job market growth upwards of 38 percent. If you are looking for a respectable salary and excellent job market growth, think about pursing a profession as a machine tool operator.