If you’re interested in becoming a machine operator, you need to know where to focus your job search. And the only way to discover that information is to take a look at where the largest number of people are getting hired as machine operators.
You could spend a bunch of time looking all of that information up on your own. Or you could just keep reading. We’ve put together a list of the best places to look for work as a machine operator in the sections below. Keep reading to learn more.
What does a machine operator do, exactly?
Machine operators perform a wide variety of tasks that are necessary to keep different types of machines running. For example, a machine operator will be responsible for setting up equipment, operating machinery, maintaining machinery, and performing repairs, among other tasks.
One thing to keep in mind is that the machine operator job title is a very broad one. There are many different types of machine operators in the world. Some work with computers, others work with construction equipment.
That’s good news. It means that if you’re just getting started in this industry, then there’s a lot of room for you to specialize in a type of machine operation that you find enjoyable.
Are machine operators in high demand?
Some types of machine operators are in high demand while others aren’t. For example, the demand for metal and plastic machine workers in the United States is steadily declining at a rate of about 7%. That means you may not want to focus on this line of work if you’re just getting started with your machine operation career.
The demand for construction equipment operators, on the other hand, is steadily rising at a rate of about 4%. That’s the average rate of growth for jobs in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The key point to keep in mind is that some of the machine operator jobs that we needed in the past are no longer as important as they once were. When you decide which specialty you want to pursue, this is something you should keep in mind. It’s almost always a better decision to pick a specialty that’s still growing instead of one that’s steadily declining.
Do machine operators make good money?
Machine operators earn a decent salary — especially when you consider the fact that you don’t need a college degree to become one. But the exact amount that you’ll make will vary some based on the specialty that you pursue.
For example, construction equipment operators make around $49,100 per year on average. That equates to roughly $23.61 per hour.
Metal and plastic machine workers, on the other hand, make just $38,270 per year on average.
One thing to keep in mind here is that your salary can vary greatly based on what you specialize in and where you work. For example, as you saw above, the average annual salary for a metal and plastic machine worker is just $38,270.
However, CNC machine operation is a sub-specialty of this line of work. And if you were a CNC machine operator in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA, area, you would make an average annual salary of $69,040.
How do I become a machine operator?
You can become a machine operator with just a high school diploma. But you may want to pursue additional academic training to qualify yourself for more specialized types of machine operation work, as these often pay higher than the jobs that people qualify for with just a high school diploma.
In terms of what that looks like, don’t worry. You still won’t have to complete a four-year college degree. Rather, it’s often enough just to complete a certification program at a local community college or technical school. These shouldn’t take you more than a few years to complete.
Real-world training is also essential to your future success as a professional machine operator. There are a few different ways that you can complete this aspect of your education.
One option is to pursue a formal apprenticeship. These give you the chance to work alongside machine operators who have been doing what you’d like to do for a very long time. They can offer you practical advice and help you build the real-world skills that will be needed when you become a full-time machine operator.
But apprenticeships can take as long as four years to complete. You may not be interested in pursuing one for that length of time. In that situation, you may just want to focus on getting employed in an entry-level machine operation position and learning the trade that way.
This strategy won’t provide you with as much formal support as you would get if you were going through a machine operator apprenticeship. But you’ll still get the chance to build the skills that you need to advance into more demanding machine operation positions in the future.
What are the top areas hiring machine operators?
The answer to this question varies based on the specific type of machine operator that you’re referencing. But, generally speaking, the most machine operator employment jobs are found in the states with the largest populations. Here’s a quick look at where demand for these employees is highest.
No matter which type of machine operation work you’d like to do, chances are you’ll be able to do it in Texas. The state is home to the most machine operator jobs in the country by a pretty wide margin.
Those are just a few examples of machine operator sub-specialties that have the most opportunity in Texas. But if you check out this list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you’ll find a ton of machine operation specialties that offer the biggest opportunities are in Texas.
Wisconsin may be a bit of a surprise on this list. But it’s the best place to be if you want to find a job as a CNC machine operator. The state is home to about 13,820 CNC machine operators and 5.1 out of every 1,000 workers has this job.
California is like Texas in that it has a lot of machine operator positions in multiple sub-specialties. For example, there are currently about 27,430 operating engineering and other construction equipment operators in California.
There are also 1,880 conveyor operators and tenders in California, good for second in the nation. If you’re interested in pursuing multiple types of machine operation employment, then California could be a good place for you to go.
What are the best metropolitan areas for aspiring machine operators?
The answer to this question will also vary based on what type of machine operation work you’re talking about.
For example, if you want to be an industrial truck and tractor operator, your best bet would be the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, area. Every 7.37 out of 1,000 workers has this job in that area, which is tops in the country.
Alternatively, if you wanted to be a CNC machine operator, you would want to go to the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA, area. It’s home to 7,060 such workers, the most anywhere in the United States.
Other metropolitan areas where there are lots of opportunities for machine operators include:
- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
- Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, TX
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
What non-metropolitan areas have the most opportunities for machine operators?
City life isn’t for everyone. If it’s not for you, don’t worry. You can still find a job as a machine operator. You may just want to look in one of the following areas, where the most opportunities are available for you to choose from.
If you want to be an operating engineer or another type of construction equipment operator, then the Eastern Wyoming nonmetropolitan area might be your best bet. 31.5 out of every 1,000 workers has one of these jobs.
But if you’d rather be a CNC machine operator, then you should look into the South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area. 6.71 out of everyone 1,000 workers has a CNC machine operator job in this area.
Other nonmetropolitan areas that are good places to look for a machine operator position include:
- West Northwestern Ohio
- Piedmont North Carolina
- Central Indiana
- Southeast Iowa