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Machine Tool Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Sets up, operates, or tends more than one type of cutting or forming machine tool or robot.

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster Manufacturing Production pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Observes machine operation to detect workpiece defects or machine malfunctions, adjusting machines as necessary.
  • Sets up and operates machines, such as lathes, cutters, shears, borers, millers, grinders, presses, drills, and auxiliary machines, to make metallic and plastic workpieces.
  • Inspects workpieces for defects, and measures workpieces to determine accuracy of machine operation, using rules, templates, or other measuring instruments.
  • Reads blueprints or job orders to determine product specifications and tooling instructions and to plan operational sequences.
  • Starts machines and turns handwheels or valves to engage feeding, cooling, and lubricating mechanisms.
  • Selects, installs, and adjusts alignment of drills, cutters, dies, guides, and holding devices, using templates, measuring instruments, and hand tools.
  • Moves controls or mounts gears, cams, or templates in machines to set feed rates and cutting speeds, depths, and angles.
  • Positions, adjusts, and secures stock material or workpieces against stops, on arbors, or in chucks, fixtures, or automatic feeding mechanisms, manually or using hoists.
  • Sets machine stops or guides to specified lengths as indicated by scales, rules, or templates.
  • Performs minor machine maintenance, such as oiling or cleaning machines, dies, or workpieces, or adding coolant to machine reservoirs.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Ballistics Laboratory Gunsmith -- Sets up and operates variety of metalworking machines to repair and alter guns and gun parts, and develops designs for special devices used in testing small arms ammunition.
  • CNC Operator (Computer Numerically Controlled Operator) -- Operates computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.
  • Injection Molding Technician -- Supplies plastic injection molding machines with various types of raw materials and removes finished product.
  • Ornamental Metal Worker --