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Production Line Operator Duties and Responsibilities

Production line operators perform different job duties based on the items they help manufacture and the size of the factory they work in. At the core of this job, however, are several common responsibilities:

Read Instructions Production line operators must read and follow written instructions and work orders.

Start and Stop Production Lines Production line operators start and stop the production line as needed to keep up with workflow and prevent potential safety hazards.

Load and Unload Production line operators load and unload items on the production line. This may include packaging or unpackaging products.

Perform Quality Control Production line operators inspect products for defects and pull defective items off the line before they proceed further in the production process. All defective products must be properly labeled and rerouted away from the production area.

Set Machine Settings Production line operators place line machinery on the correct settings in regard to speed and heat when different products or different phases of production are being used, according to company machine specifications.

Label Products Production line operators properly label all products and ensure that labels and product information match.

Clean Work Area Production line operators keep work areas clean and neat to avoid product contamination and maintain workplace safety. This may include sweeping, mopping, and performing general housekeeping tasks.

Maintain Safety Production line operators follow all safety guidelines and regulations as laid out by OSHA and the hiring company, which includes wearing proper safety equipment.

Stack Finished Products Production line operators place all finished products on pallets to be delivered to other locations within the factory.


Production Line Operator Skills and Qualifications

Production line operators are laborers who perform repetitive tasks with precision and efficiency while maintaining line communication and general safety standards. Employers only hire production line operators who display all the following skills:
  • Mechanical skills - basic mechanical aptitude and good manual dexterity are essential for production line operators, who work constantly with their hands
  • Physical fitness - because manufacturing environments can be hot or cold depending on outside conditions, and because production line operators must frequently lift heavy materials, physical fitness is essential for this career path
  • Attention to detail - production line operators perform quality control by verifying that all materials on the line meet company standards, which requires good attention to detail
  • Computer skills - many production line systems are automated, so employers prefer production line operators who have at least basic computer skills
  • Communication skills - production line operators maintain good verbal communication with supervisors and fellow workers

Production Line Operator Education and Training

Employers require production line operators to have a high school diploma or GED. They rarely require additional education or past work experience for this entry-level job. However, some employers do prefer production line operators to have forklift certification or to obtain this certification once hired. Paid training is provided to production line operators so they can learn how to perform their basic job functions up to company standards. The training period is typically short, lasting just one to two weeks in most cases. During training, production line operators are monitored by floor supervisors until the supervisor is satisfied that these tasks are being carried out properly.

Production Line Operator Salary and Outlook

The median hourly pay for production line operators is $11.80, according to PayScale. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), however, reports that assemblers and fabricators earn a median annual wage of $15.31 per hour, or $31,850 per year. Assemblers and fabricators are entry-level workers who assemble products and parts, performing the same job duties as production line operators. The BLS projects jobs in this field will decline 14 percent through 2026. A majority of employers provide full-time production line operators with full healthcare benefits packages that include dental, vision, and medical insurance coverage. Typically, 401(k) retirement plans and worker's compensation benefits are also provided. Some companies offer profit-sharing bonuses to production line operators in addition to base salary.

Helpful Resources

Look for job openings, find education and training programs, and learn more about the skills and techniques production line operators need using these resources:

Association for Manufacturing Excellence - look for job openings, find training programs, take advantage of networking opportunities, and discover upcoming industry events at this website for all manufacturing professionals

Resume Writing for Manufacturing Careers: The Only 'How To' Guide You Need to Impress Hiring Managers and Get More Interviews - use this book to learn how to write a great resume that will get real results. This guide contains examples and points out common resume mistakes that can turn off employers

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International - the FMA website provides job listings, education resources, networking events, and webinars for all fabricating and manufacturing workers

Lean Assembly: The Nuts and Bolts of Making Assembly Operations Flow - use this in-depth guide to production line operations to learn how to avoid mistakes, find out how different production stations work together, and discover tips for becoming a more efficient and effective production line operator

Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation - find up-to-date manufacturing industry news, upcoming events, and research materials at this website dedicated to modern manufacturing

Manufacturing Processes: Materials, Productivity, and Lean Strategies - learn more about manufacturing in today's world with this book, which includes information about the five major materials used in industrial manufacturing (metals, ceramics, plastics, woods, and composites)

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