Career Development

What Does a Production Operator Do?

Find out what a production operator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a production operator.

Production operators are responsible for the production of goods and services. They may work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, mining, or construction. Their job is to ensure that everything gets done on time and according to plan.

Production operators typically have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders—they’re often the only person working on their particular machine at any given time. This means they need to be highly conscientious and detail-oriented; they must pay close attention to what they’re doing at all times so nothing goes wrong.

Production Operator Job Duties

Production operators have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Inspecting equipment for malfunctions and defects in order to ensure that it is operating properly
  • Installing new equipment or machinery when needed, following manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines
  • Observing gauges and dials to ensure that equipment is working properly and adjusting settings as needed
  • Loading raw materials into machines or equipment that processes materials into finished goods
  • Monitoring the progress of work through the use of computerized controls or visual inspection of work in process
  • Monitoring the flow of materials and equipment through production lines to ensure that they are operating efficiently and without interruption
  • Monitoring machinery and equipment to ensure that they are working properly
  • Maintaining production logs to record work performed, materials used, and any issues that arise during production
  • Operating machines that cut, slice, grind, or polish materials into finished products

Production Operator Salary & Outlook

Production operators’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $39,500 ($18.99/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $54,500 ($26.2/hour)

The employment of production operators is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Demand for manufacturing products in the United States depends on overall demand for those products. As global competition increases, manufacturers are likely to continue to invest in productivity improvements and automation to remain competitive. However, these investments may limit the need for workers to operate or maintain equipment.

Related: Production Operator Interview Questions and Answers

Production Operator Job Requirements

A production operator typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most production operator positions require only a high school diploma or GED. However, some employers may prefer or even require a post-secondary certificate or an associate’s degree in a related field.

Training & Experience: Production operators typically receive on-the-job training when they start a new position. This training may last for a few weeks and may include instruction on safety procedures, how to use equipment and how to complete daily tasks. Production operators who work in manufacturing may receive additional training on how to use specific machinery.

Certifications & Licenses: Production operators do not have any certifications available to them. However, some companies make certifications available to employees as part of a rewards program. These certificates can help production operators understand the basics of a particular process before starting work and help them earn higher-paying jobs.

Production Operator Skills

Production operators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes and make corrections. Production operators need to have excellent attention to detail to ensure the quality of their work. This skill can help you complete tasks correctly and prevent errors. It can also help you identify potential problems before they occur.

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. Production operators need excellent communication skills to work with their team and supervisors. They often need to communicate safety procedures, production goals and other information to their team. Production operators also need to communicate with suppliers and customers to ensure they understand each other.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to make quick decisions based on the information you have. Production operators often need to make quick decisions about how to complete their tasks, so it’s important for them to be able to think critically. For example, if a machine breaks down, a production operator might need to decide how to fix it or how to complete the task manually.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Production operators often have to work on multiple tasks at the same time, so it’s important for them to be able to switch between tasks quickly. Flexibility can also help you adapt to changes in your work schedule, such as when you might need to work overtime or when you might need to change your work location.

Physical stamina: Physical stamina is the ability to sustain prolonged physical activity. Production operators often work long shifts and may need to lift heavy objects or equipment. Having good physical stamina can help you perform your job duties effectively and safely.

Production Operator Work Environment

Production operators typically work in factories or other industrial settings. They may be required to stand for long periods of time and to perform repetitive tasks. The work can be physically demanding, and operators may be exposed to noise, dust, and fumes. They may also be required to work in hot or cold environments. Production operators typically work shifts that include evenings and weekends. They may also be required to work overtime to meet production deadlines.

Production Operator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how production operators work. Production operators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Robotics in Manufacturing

The use of robotics in manufacturing is becoming increasingly popular as companies look for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. This trend is likely to continue as robots become more sophisticated and able to perform tasks that were once thought to be too complex for them.

As a production operator, you will need to learn how to work with robots in order to stay competitive. This may include learning how to program robots or operate them safely. In addition, you will need to be familiar with the latest manufacturing technologies in order to keep up with the latest trends.

More Automation in Production

Production operators are seeing an increasing amount of automation in their jobs as businesses strive to become more efficient. This trend is likely to continue as businesses look for ways to streamline their operations and reduce costs.

Production operators can adapt to this trend by learning new skills that allow them to work with automation. This may include learning how to operate machines that do not require human input, such as robots, or learning how to manage data in a way that makes it easier for businesses to make decisions.

A Greater Focus on Quality Control

Quality control has always been important in manufacturing, but it is becoming even more so as customers demand higher-quality products. As a result, production operators will need to focus on quality control measures in order to ensure that their products meet the standards set by customers.

This means that production operators will need to be able to identify defects in products and take steps to correct them before they reach the customer. They will also need to be able to monitor the quality of products throughout the manufacturing process and make adjustments as necessary.

How to Become a Production Operator

A career as a production operator can be rewarding in many ways. It offers the opportunity to work in a variety of industries, learn new skills, and meet new people. You may even have the chance to move up the ladder and become a supervisor or manager.

No matter what stage you’re at in your career, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices. Take advantage of training opportunities offered by your employer, and read industry publications to keep your knowledge base strong.

Advancement Prospects

Production operators typically start in entry-level positions and advance to higher-level positions with more responsibility as they gain experience. Some production operators may eventually move into management positions, such as production supervisor or plant manager.

Operators who demonstrate strong mechanical skills and aptitude may be promoted to positions such as maintenance worker or technician. Those interested in quality control may become quality control inspectors. Some production operators may choose to become independent contractors or start their own businesses.

Production Operator Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we produce high-quality products that our customers can rely on. To maintain our reputation for excellence, we’re looking for a production operator to join our team. The ideal candidate will have experience in a production environment and will be responsible for running our production line. He or she will ensure that our products meet our high standards for quality and safety. The production operator will also be responsible for maintaining our production equipment and keeping our production area clean and organized.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Operate and maintain production equipment in a safe and efficient manner
  • Read and interpret work orders, blueprints, and other job-related documents
  • Perform quality checks on products and materials
  • Report any issues with equipment or product quality to a supervisor
  • Assist in the set up of new production runs
  • Help troubleshoot problems with production equipment
  • Keep work areas clean and organized
  • Adhere to all safety regulations
  • Work well as part of a team
  • Be able to stand for long periods of time
  • Be able to lift 50 pounds
  • Have basic math skills

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven experience in a production environment
  • Mechanical aptitude and ability to use hand tools
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds regularly and stand for long periods of time
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong work ethic and team player attitude

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher in related field
  • Previous experience with machinery operation and maintenance
  • Working knowledge of quality control procedures
  • Leadership experience


What Does a Hotel General Manager Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Planning Engineer Do?