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Career profile Woodworking Machine Operator

Also known as Boring Machine Operator, Cabinet Maker, Knot Saw Operator, Lathe Operator, Machine Operator, Molder Operator, Router Operator, Sander, Sander Operator

Woodworking Machine Operator

Also known as Boring Machine Operator, Cabinet Maker, Knot Saw Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$22,490 - $47,780 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Quality Control Analysis
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Production and Processing
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Set up, program, operate, or tend computerized or manual woodworking machines, such as drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, or wood-nailing machines.
  • Examine finished workpieces for smoothness, shape, angle, depth-of-cut, or conformity to specifications and verify dimensions, visually and using hands, rules, calipers, templates, or gauges.
  • Start machines, adjust controls, and make trial cuts to ensure that machinery is operating properly.
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What does a Woodworking Machine Operator do?

Woodworking Machine Operators set up, operate, or tend woodworking machines, such as drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, and wood nailing machines.

In addition, Woodworking Machine Operators may operate computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment.

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

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

  • Set up, program, operate, or tend computerized or manual woodworking machines, such as drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, or wood-nailing machines.
  • Examine finished workpieces for smoothness, shape, angle, depth-of-cut, or conformity to specifications and verify dimensions, visually and using hands, rules, calipers, templates, or gauges.
  • Start machines, adjust controls, and make trial cuts to ensure that machinery is operating properly.
  • Monitor operation of machines and make adjustments to correct problems and ensure conformance to specifications.
  • Examine raw woodstock for defects and to ensure conformity to size and other specification standards.
  • Adjust machine tables or cutting devices and set controls on machines to produce specified cuts or operations.
  • Install and adjust blades, cutterheads, boring-bits, or sanding-belts, using hand tools and rules.
  • Change alignment and adjustment of sanding, cutting, or boring machine guides to prevent defects in finished products, using hand tools.
  • Determine product specifications and materials, work methods, and machine setup requirements, according to blueprints, oral or written instructions, drawings, or work orders.
  • Feed stock through feed mechanisms or conveyors into planing, shaping, boring, mortising, or sanding machines to produce desired components.
  • Push or hold workpieces against, under, or through cutting, boring, or shaping mechanisms.
  • Select knives, saws, blades, cutter heads, cams, bits, or belts, according to workpiece, machine functions, or product specifications.
  • Remove and replace worn parts, bits, belts, sandpaper, or shaping tools.
  • Secure woodstock against a guide or in a holding device, place woodstock on a conveyor, or dump woodstock in a hopper to feed woodstock into machines.
  • Inspect and mark completed workpieces and stack them on pallets, in boxes, or on conveyors so that they can be moved to the next workstation.
  • Inspect pulleys, drive belts, guards, or fences on machines to ensure that machines will operate safely.
  • Attach and adjust guides, stops, clamps, chucks, or feed mechanisms, using hand tools.
  • Clean or maintain products, machines, or work areas.
  • Trim wood parts according to specifications, using planes, chisels, or wood files or sanders.
  • Grease or oil woodworking machines.

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

Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
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.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.

What is a Woodworking Machine Operator salary?

The median salary for a Woodworking Machine Operator is $32,160, and the average salary is $33,540. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Woodworking Machine Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Woodworking Machine Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Woodworking Machine Operators earn less than $22,490 per year, 25% earn less than $26,840, 75% earn less than $39,130, and 90% earn less than $47,780.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Woodworking Machine Operators is expected to change by 9.8%, and there should be roughly 8,700 open positions for Woodworking Machine Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$32,160
Typical salary range
$22,490 - $47,780
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
9.8%

What personality traits are common among Woodworking Machine Operators?

Interests

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 Woodworking Machine Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Woodworking 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, Woodworking 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.

Values

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 Woodworking Machine Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Working Conditions.

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

Second, Woodworking Machine Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Woodworking Machine Operators somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

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 Woodworking Machine Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and adaptability/flexibility.

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

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Woodworking Machine Operators need?

Working as a Woodworking Machine Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Woodworking Machine Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Woodworking Machine Operators

  • 22.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 47.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 21.0% completed some college coursework
  • 5.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 3.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.1% earned a Master's degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Woodworking Machine Operators

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

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

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
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.
Building and Construction
Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

Important Abilities needed by Woodworking Machine Operators

Woodworking 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, Woodworking Machine Operators need abilities such as reaction time, near vision, and manual dexterity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Woodworking Machine Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Reaction Time
The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
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.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Critical Skills needed by Woodworking 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.

Woodworking Machine Operators frequently use skills like operations monitoring, operation and control, and quality control analysis to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Woodworking Machine Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Quality Control Analysis
Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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.