Sawing Machine Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a sawing machine technician or operator? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to decide if this career is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Sawing Machine Technician Career

A sawing machine technician is responsible for working with wood sawing machines in a variety of capacities. Read on to find out more pros and cons for this career.

Pros of a Sawing Machine Technician Career
Can learn the basics in about 1 year*
Predicted employment growth for saw operators is the fastest of all woodworkers (13% between 2012-2022)*
Might use computer-controlled machines*
College is not required*

Cons of a Sawing Machine Technician Career
Might work in a lot of dust and fumes*
Rate of illness and injury is much higher than the average for all occupations*
Might need to wear earplugs because of excessive noise*
Tedious and repetitive job tasks*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A wood sawing machine technician, also called an operator, is an area of specialization within the woodworking field. As a sawing machine technician, you'd operate specific pieces of woodworking machinery. Your duties might include preparing and setting up the machinery, lifting wood onto the machines by hand or with hoists, operating the machines, detecting any excessive vibrations or unusual sounds and making any necessary adjustments to ensure that the products meet specifications. You might use modern, automated machinery, like computerized numerical control (CNC) machines.

Salary Info

According to the BLS in May 2014, the mean annual wage for this career was approximately $28,410 and the mean hourly wage was about $13.00. The top paying industry, as of May 2014, was pulp, paper, and paperboard mills. The top paying states included Washington, Illinois, Montana, Oregon and Connecticut.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Training

Most employers look for at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. You could also learn skills through programs at technical schools, community colleges, or universities. In those programs, you might study topics such as wood technology or wood engineering. Higher education could be helpful to you, but most woodworkers receive on-the-job training from experienced workers. You'd start out with simple tasks and take on more complex, less-supervised tasks as you gain more experience. It would probably take you about three or more years to become skilled in this occupation.

Top Skills for Sawing Machine Technicians

To succeed in this occupation, it's important to be detail-oriented and strong, with steady hands and good eye-hand coordination. An excellent understanding of math and modern technology systems might also be a benefit to you. Because of changing technologies, you'll have the constant need for retraining.

What Are Employers Looking For?

In addition to a high school diploma, many employers show interest in past work experiences with wood and CNC machines. The below descriptions are from real job postings in April 2012.

  • A company in a wood manufacturing environment in Georgia advertised for a full-time CNC machine operator with a high school education and at least 2 years of experience. In this job, you'd operate various CNC machines and saws. You'd also load, unload, stack and cut the product. Other requirements included the ability to lift up to 50 pounds, accurately read a tape measure, work 1st and 2nd shift.
  • A furniture company in Indiana was looking for a full-time table-saw operator. This employer required craftsmanship skills and experience in wood product manufacturing.
  • A manufacturing company in Virginia advertised for a full-time CNC operator with a high school diploma or equivalent. Requirements included the ability to operate CNC machinery and saws, read blueprints and possess strong skills in math and measuring. The listed pay was $12.00-$14.00 per hour based on experience.

How Can I Stand Out?

You could probably increase your chances of employment by getting some additional training in math and computer applications after high school because as technology evolves, you'll want to make sure your skills are up to date. According to the BLS, college-level programs in wood technology or production management can prepare you for jobs in woodworking supervision, production and management.

Other Careers to Consider

Carpenter

If you enjoy working with wood, but think that you'd like to do work involving constructing, installing, or building, you might want to consider this occupation. You can enter this field with just a high school diploma or equivalent as a helper, and then gain training and experience while on the job. However, most carpenters complete a 3- or 4-year formal apprenticeship that includes paid technical and on-the-job training. Once your apprenticeship is completed, you'd be considered a journey worker and could work independently. The mean annual wage in May 2011, according to the BLS, was about $44,000. At that same time, the BLS reported that the expected job growth 2010-2020 is 20%, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Machinist /Tool and Die Maker

Workers in this occupation also set up and operate computer-controlled machine tools, similar to sawing machine technicians, but work with metals, instead of wood. In May 2011, the BLS reported a mean annual wage for machinists at about $41,000 and for tool and die makers at approximately $48,000. It might take you as long as five years of on-the-job training to become skilled. The predicted job growth is slower than average (7%) between 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

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