What Does a Production Operator Do? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Production and distribution operations ensure that consumer items are available on shop shelves on time. Manufacturers employ many people to ensure they can keep up with product demand. A production operator is a specialist who uses various pieces of equipment to help the process forward. In this article, we examine the daily duties of a production operator and explore the skills and qualifications of this role.

Related: What Does a Machine Operator Do? Duties, Skills and Salary

What does a production operator do?

A production operator is in control of an assembly line and machines that complete different manufacturing tasks. They make certain that their employees meet product line objectives, such as producing a specific number of products during their shifts. They usually work on the manufacturing floor to guarantee that there are no flaws in the procedures.

Production operator responsibilities

Operators are an important part of the manufacturing process since they ensure quality products within the production deadline. The tasks of operators depend on the type of items the company makes. Below are some common tasks that a production operator performs:

Overseeing machinery

Operators keep machinery in good working order. When anything doesn't sound right or doesn't appear to be correct, the production operator inspects the equipment and makes modifications. Similarly, operators establish maintenance and cleaning plans in order to minimise difficulties. If some equipment becomes defective, they coordinate repairs or replacements to avoid downtime.

Related: What Does a Production Worker Do? Duties, Skills and Salary

Inspecting and checking finished products

A primary responsibility of production operators is checking the final product to ensure it meets the company's quality standards. Checking for quality means the product they produce is consistent and maintains the company's brand image. If they notice an issue with the product, they can check the machinery to see if there's a defect and address it.

Comprehending and meeting deadlines

Manufacturing businesses generate income by selling their goods. Understanding deadlines implies that the operator can make certain that all the manufacturing process teams complete their tasks on time. They can, for instance, work with suppliers to guarantee that the raw materials needed to make the items arrive on site at the right time. Doing so ensures that production can meet demand, maximise customer satisfaction and increase the overall revenue.

Related: What Does a Production Engineer Do? (With Primary Duties)

Reporting to supervisors and executives

Production operators report to supervisors, who demand daily activity reports advising management of any difficulties that may cause productivity decreases on an assembly line. It's important for production operators to highlight the fulfilment of performance targets and raise any concerns or issues that occur. Doing so can help management put in proactive measures to ensure the completion of tasks and smooth running of operations, avoiding potential bottlenecks.

Keeping a secure and safe atmosphere

Production operators are to follow government and workplace regulations since they typically operate with large and powerful machinery. Cleaning work environments and wearing appropriate safety equipment are the key safety activities they observe. They inspect the area for any loose chippings, the risk of falling objects, slick floors or other safety hazards. They also post warning signs for all individuals in the vicinity. Production operators may also replace machinery that might pose a safety risk.

Assisting with training

Companies typically assign seasoned machine operators the duty of bringing new workers up to speed. They serve as mentors, explaining everything completely while keeping track of the success of all team members. Operators get training on new industrial procedures or equipment at the same time. Continuously improving their abilities allows individuals to boost their earning potential while remaining relevant to their employers.

How to become a production operator

Because different organisations develop different products, the recruiting criteria are diverse. To get started, you can use the following key tips:

1. Select an industry

Consider the schooling criteria necessary for your selected sector before choosing a career selection. There are several manufacturing areas, such as food and beverage, mining, medical or transportation and logistics. You can consider your past experience, education and interests to choose an industry.

2. Obtain accreditation

Some firms prefer to hire operators with post-secondary education. Although some operators have university degrees, you may become one by obtaining a diploma. If your desired position uses high-tech equipment, you may want to enrol in a technical or specialised school. It's important for candidates in this role to have basic expertise in the following areas:

  • customer service and satisfaction

  • manufacturing and processing

  • computer hardware and software

  • business management and administration

  • sales and marketing

  • mechanics

  • mathematics

Related: Forklift Operator Certification: How to Get Forklift Certified

3. Distribute resumes

You can begin emailing your resume to potential companies. Companies typically post job openings on job boards and online career portals. Look for jobs by checking the contract or the location. Experience in other roles or positions, such as engineering, might help your machine operator resume stand out.

Arrive on time for the interview and show the employer the value you can bring them. When starting out, it's beneficial to apply for entry-level employment and subsequently build on experience. Because various organisations utilise different production equipment and methods, be prepared to learn once you have a job. Seasoned employees frequently supervise training sessions for new hires once they begin working.

Production operator average salary

The national average salary for a production operator is $24,124 per year. This figure can vary depending on each applicant's level of education, professional experience, industry accreditations and expertise. It's also highly dependent on the employer's size and type of organisation.

Some production operators enhance their careers by taking on additional responsibilities inside their organisations. Production operators with substantial work experience, training and extra certification can significantly boost their salaries by becoming production managers or supervisors, who are normally in charge of training new personnel. Others specialise in running specialised equipment, solving issues and repairing gear.

Production operator skills

The ability to feel at ease around the equipment is essential for anybody interested in becoming a machine operator. There are other skills to consider developing, including:

  • Detail orientation and focus: It's critical to pay attention to detail while determining if machines are running properly or whether the end product is satisfactory. Being alert also allows operators to detect any unusual noises emanating from the gear.

  • Physical stamina: Production operators should have physical strength and stamina. Most tasks require you to stand on your feet for lengthy periods of time, bend over often and lift heavy objects.

  • Communication: In order for everyday operations to go well, production operators are to offer clear instructions to all parties involved and explain any difficulties that emerge. Doing so entails good verbal and nonverbal communication abilities.

  • Patience: Given the hands-on and sometimes unpredictable nature of the job, it's important that a production operator is patient and calm. Even when deadlines are approaching or problems are tough to address, it's important for them to be patient.

  • Independence: It's important that production operators can execute their duties alone or with minimum supervision.

  • Work ethic: Successful production operators, like other professionals in a factory setting, come on time and stay on task. Such a work ethic provides higher productivity in order to meet production targets.

  • Writing abilities: Although machine operators don't have to write regularly, it's important that they're able to communicate effectively in writing when the need arises. The type of writing they do depends on their audience.

  • Computer proficiency: Operators occasionally enter critical data into the system, produce activity logs, record inspection reports and manage inventories.

  • Reading comprehension: Manufacturing organisations send work-related documentation to machine operators, who have to read in order to grasp the requirements.

  • Time management: It's important for production operators to manage their time and the time of other team members. Good time management can lead to enhanced productivity, timely production and increased revenue.

  • Critical thinking: When confronted with unpredictable and unprecedented issues, operators are to apply logic to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of all conceivable options.

  • Active listening: It's important for machine operators to pay close attention to what their colleagues are saying. Active listening also means avoiding interrupting people while they are speaking, comprehending the topic points and asking pertinent questions.

  • Social perceptiveness: People behave differently when they're working and when they're under pressure. Being aware of your coworkers' emotions allows you to better comprehend their activities.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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