Production Operator Job Description
Companies that manufacture things depend on their machines working properly in order for production goals to stay on schedule. Production operators are critical to this process because they monitor equipment and output. Most of their time is spent on the manufacturing floor ensuring everything is going as desired. As might be expected, the environment can be quite noisy. Shifts vary based on the employer’s operating hours, so some production operators work evenings, nights, or early mornings rather than a traditional daytime schedule. Men significantly outnumber women as production operators.
Production Operator Duties and Responsibilities
A production operator’s specific duties vary by what type of products the company makes. However, an analysis of job postings reveals that many responsibilities are similar to every position. Here’s a look at some of the most common expectations:
From calibrating equipment to monitoring gauges, production operators attend to machines so they operate correctly and produce the desired results. When something doesn’t sound, act, or seem right, the production operator investigates, making adjustments. Likewise, they set up cleaning and maintenance schedules to prevent problems by keeping machines in good working order.
Inspect Finished Products
Sometimes it can be difficult to know that a machine has a problem until you look at the items it produces. Production operators act as quality control when they examine output to ensure what’s being made lives up to standard. If they notice a defect, production operators must figure out where the error is occurring and correct it so that future batches come out right.
Companies can’t make money if they lack things to sell! Production operators are aware of the output goals that ensure sufficient quantity to meet delivery obligations. Delays lead to empty store shelves or dissatisfied clients.
Report to Leaders
Production operators often present their supervisors with reports on daily activities. They also inform managers when they notice anything that might be affecting assembly line output.
Maintain a Safe Environment
Production operators often work with large, powerful equipment. They abide by workplace and governmental guidelines to reduce the chance of injury to themselves and others. Wearing proper safety gear and cleaning up their work area are two basic safety actions.
Seasoned production operators may be assigned to get new hires up to speed. Since many who enter this profession do not have prior training, these mentors need to be able to explain things thoroughly, monitoring progress carefully. On the flipside, production operators themselves should possess a willingness to be trained on new equipment or techniques to remain relevant and increase their value to their employer.
Production Operator Skills and Qualifications
Being comfortable around machinery is an obvious must for a production operator. But getting the job done also involves a variety of other things, such as the following:
- Physical requirements – because they stand on their feet for a prolonged amount of time and need to bend, lift, carry, and stretch to perform their duties, production operators should possess adequate fitness and stamina
- Attention to detail – maintaining a good focus enables hearing a machine making a “wrong” sound or noticing that the quality of the finished item isn’t up to par
- Communication – production operators need to be able to clearly explain problems or give instructions to others involved in keeping operations running smoothly
- Independence – being able to perform the job with limited supervision
- Cool-headedness – stress can build when problems are hard to solve or if deadlines are looming, but remaining composed allows for clearer thinking and better morale
- Work ethic – arriving on time, staying on task, and taking pride in one’s job contribute to better output and reaching production goals
- Computer competency – production operators sometimes must enter data into the company’s system, keep track of inventory, create activity logs, or write up inspection results
Production Operator Education and Training
The majority of production operators hold a high school diploma or the equivalent. For positions involving high-tech equipment, coursework at a vocational institution may be necessary. New hires should expect to be trained on the job by seasoned workers.
Production Operator Salary
According to PayScale.com, the median wage for a production operator is $15.50 per hour. Workers on the low end of the pay range earn about $11 per hour, while the highest-paid earn more than $23 per hour. Overtime can substantially contribute to what a production operator earns over the course of a year. The majority of full-time production operators receive healthcare benefits. Other possible components of a compensation package may include retirement plans, paid vacation, and life insurance.
Learning as much about a career as possible aids in making decisions. Here are some other sources of information for your consideration as you ponder becoming a production operator.
Machinery’s Handbook – This respected reference book, now in its 30th edition, is touted as the “Bible of the Metalworking Industries” and receives kudos from reviewers for its “incredible amount of information.”
National Association of Manufacturers – Keep up on the latest industry developments with this powerful voice of the manufacturing community.
Careers in Manufacturing and Production – This book looks at various employment options in the manufacturing/production sector, what each one entails, and how to move ahead in one’s career.
Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs – This website, sponsored by The Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl., is designed to help students and other interested parties learn more about careers in manufacturing and the training needed for success.
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