a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Sewing Machine Operator

Also known as Line Closer, Machine Operator, Prototype Sewer, Sample Maker, Seamer, Seamstress, Sew On Operator, Sewer, Sewing Machine Operator, Zipper Machine Operator

Sewing Machine Operator

Also known as Line Closer, Machine Operator, Prototype Sewer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$20,270 - $39,790 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Monitoring
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Production and Processing
  • Mathematics
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Monitor machine operation to detect problems such as defective stitching, breaks in thread, or machine malfunctions.
  • Cut materials according to specifications, using blades, scissors, or electric knives.
  • Place spools of thread, cord, or other materials on spindles, insert bobbins, and thread ends through machine guides and components.
Is Sewing Machine Operator the right career path for you?

Would Sewing Machine Operator be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Sewing Machine Operator and hundreds of other career paths.

Get started with TraitLab

What does a Sewing Machine Operator do?

Sewing Machine Operators operate or tend sewing machines to join, reinforce, decorate, or perform related sewing operations in the manufacture of garment or nongarment products.

What kind of tasks does a Sewing Machine Operator perform regularly?

Sewing Machine Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Monitor machine operation to detect problems such as defective stitching, breaks in thread, or machine malfunctions.
  • Place spools of thread, cord, or other materials on spindles, insert bobbins, and thread ends through machine guides and components.
  • Position items under needles, using marks on machines, clamps, templates, or cloth as guides.
  • Guide garments or garment parts under machine needles and presser feet to sew parts together.
  • Match cloth pieces in correct sequences prior to sewing them, and verify that dye lots and patterns match.
  • Fold or stretch edges or lengths of items while sewing to facilitate forming specified sections.
  • Remove holding devices and finished items from machines.
  • Select supplies such as fasteners and thread, according to job requirements.
  • Cut excess material or thread from finished products.
  • Examine and measure finished articles to verify conformance to standards, using rulers.
  • Start and operate or tend machines, such as single or double needle serging and flat-bed felling machines, to automatically join, reinforce, or decorate material or articles.
  • Turn knobs, screws, and dials to adjust settings of machines, according to garment styles and equipment performance.
  • Record quantities of materials processed.
  • Attach tape, trim, appliques, or elastic to specified garments or garment parts, according to item specifications.
  • Repair or alter items by adding replacement parts or missing stitches.
  • Perform equipment maintenance tasks such as replacing needles, sanding rough areas of needles, or cleaning and oiling sewing machines.
  • Mount attachments, such as needles, cutting blades, or pattern plates, and adjust machine guides according to specifications.

The above responsibilities are specific to Sewing Machine Operators. More generally, Sewing Machine Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Sewing Machine Operator salary?

The median salary for a Sewing Machine Operator is $28,230, and the average salary is $29,420. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Sewing Machine Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Sewing Machine Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Sewing Machine Operators earn less than $20,270 per year, 25% earn less than $24,190, 75% earn less than $33,080, and 90% earn less than $39,790.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Sewing Machine Operators is expected to change by -14.0%, and there should be roughly 12,200 open positions for Sewing Machine Operators every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$20,270 - $39,790
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Sewing Machine Operators?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Sewing Machine Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Sewing Machine Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Sewing Machine Operators typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Sewing Machine Operator tend to value Support, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Sewing Machine Operators moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Sewing Machine Operators somewhat value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Sewing Machine Operators somewhat value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Sewing Machine Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Sewing Machine Operators, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

What education and training do Sewing Machine Operators need?

Working as a Sewing Machine Operator may require a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Sewing Machine Operators need anywhere from a few days to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker could show you how to do the job.

Educational degrees among Sewing Machine Operators

  • 37.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 36.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 13.1% completed some college coursework
  • 5.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 6.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Sewing Machine Operators

Sewing Machine Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as production and processing, mathematics, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Sewing Machine Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Important Abilities needed by Sewing Machine Operators

Sewing Machine Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Sewing Machine Operators need abilities such as arm-hand steadiness, manual dexterity, and control precision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Sewing Machine Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Finger Dexterity
The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.

Critical Skills needed by Sewing Machine Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Sewing Machine Operators frequently use skills like monitoring, active listening, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Sewing Machine Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.