Cutting Machine Operator Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a cutting machine operator career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary info to see if becoming a cutting machine operator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Cutting Machine Operator

As a cutter machine operator you'll have the opportunity to help create goods and products and handle tools, like wall saws, core drills and hand saws. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a cutting machine operator is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a Cutting Machine Operator
Chance to engage in active, hands-on work*
Ability to develop a good knowledge of machines and how to use them*
Not a lot of schooling necessary (a high school diploma is usually the minimum requirement)*
Opportunity to be creative in solving problems and repairing machines*

Cons of Being a Cutting Machine Operator
Manual labor can become repetitive and tiring*
Negative job outlook (projected 26% decline from 2014-2024)*
May have to work around loud and potentially dangerous machines*
Relatively low pay ($12.86 mean hourly wage in 2014)**

Sources: *O*Net Online, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

Cutting machine operators work for private companies and factories and are hired to run, fix and manage machines used to cut textiles and other types of materials. Much of your daily work involves running the machines, whether it's cutting fabrics and patterns or adjusting the machines to rapidly cut through other types of materials. You'll need to have a deep understanding of how the machines work so that you can repair them if they break down, need replacement parts or routine maintenance. It's also common for cutting machine operators to adjust settings on the machines if you need to change the style of knife, cutter or speed. Since you'll be cutting types of materials, your job is likely to require you to inspect your creations to make sure they are the proper sizes, shapes and styles.

While the career allows you to work independently and engage in manual labor, you may need to frequently keep in touch with your supervisor in case a machine has problems or you are unable to complete your tasks. You may also need to work with colleagues for major orders or to help start and stop larger cutting machines.

Career Growth and Salary Stats

In general, the job outlook of cutting machine operators does not look positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that there will be a 26% decline in the employment of these types of machine operators from 2014-2024.

Cutting machine operators are relatively low paid. The BLS estimates that textile cutting machine operators, tenders and setters earned a mean hourly wage of about $12.86 in May 2014. At the same time, these types of employees earned a mean annual salary of $26,760, according to the BLS in 2014.

Education Requirements

The majority of textile cutting machine operators earn at least a high school diploma. There are many cutting machine operators who have some college experience and a small amount who have earned less than a high school diploma. Since you don't need a college degree to find work as a cutting machine operator, you are likely to need on-the-job training. You may be able to find an apprenticeship program that allows you to work with an experienced cutting machine operator to learn the ways of the job before setting out on your own.

Although it may not be required for employment, you may be able to take formal training workshops that are offered through the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA). These classes are offered frequently and allow you to learn how to work with different types of saws and tools, which may help you better understand how to use cutting machines while on the job.

Job Postings from Real Employers

There are job openings for cutting machine operators across the country as factories and warehouses are looking for skilled employees to manage and run heavy machinery. Employment requirements are generally similar as companies prefer a high school diploma and some sort of experience with cutting machines. Depending on where you work, you may also be required to drive a vehicle or lift heavy equipment. Check out these job openings posted in May 2012:

  • A private company in Oregon is hiring for a concrete cutting machine operator who can inspect, maintain and run heavy machinery. The employer is looking for job candidates with specific experience in deep sawing and deep core drilling. You'll also need to have a driver's license and a clean driving record.
  • A private company in Virginia is looking for cutting machine operators who have experience. The company focuses on steel services.
  • A private company in Illinois seeks experienced and entry-level concrete cutting machine operators who can oversee and inspect all types of machines. The employer prefers someone with soft demolition and diamond cutting experience and an understanding of various cutting tools.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

If you are looking to get ahead in your field, then consider joining an organization like the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA). The group also offers certification courses for employees who want to learn about concrete cutting through a formal, hands-on training program. In addition to hosting training workshops, you'll be able to take part in conventions and seminars as a way to network with other employees who work with cutting equipment. The group also offers instructional materials and information about workplace safety and new products.

Alternative Career Paths

Mold and Core Makers

If a cutting machine operator career doesn't interest you, then consider becoming a mold and core maker. You'll be able to work with machines to create wax or sand core molds that can be used as metal castings. Mold and core makers generally need a high school diploma, and the job outlook looks more promising than that of cutting machine operators. O*Net Online reports that from 2010-2020, the employment of mold and core makers may grow 10%-19%, leading to an estimated 2,900 job openings. This job outlook is considered average.

Metal and Plastic Pattern Makers

Another option is to become a metal and plastic pattern maker. The job is similar to a cutting machine operator, but you'll have the opportunity to work with different types of machines that can include drill presses and milling machines. You'll need to be able to read blue prints and bring those drawings to life with the use of computers, patterns and heavy machinery. The majority of metal and plastic pattern makers have some college experience that relates to manufacturing or business. From 2010-2020, employment in the field is expected to experience little to no change, according to O*Net Online.

Computer Controlled Machine Tool Operators

You can also consider becoming a computer controlled machine tool operator for metal or plastic goods. While you'll still work with heavy machinery, this career path gives you the opportunity to work with computers and hand tools. It's common to use equipment like milling machines and turning machines, while also working with computer software programs for design and manufacturing. The job requires a high school diploma, and O*Net Online reports a 10% to 19% growth in employment from 2010-2020.

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