Essentially, a machine operator is any professional who operates a machine. This job position has many titles, including machinist and equipment operator. Being a machine operator is similar to being a mechanic. However, in addition to working with individual bits of equipment, you'll also be the one ensuring the machine is in good operating condition and able to fulfill its daily tasks.
Once you decide to become a machine operator, you'll usually need to pick a product to specialize in. The typical machine operator will focus on one type of equipment like a forklift or crane. You'll also have the option of specializing in an industry. Some operators choose to work in fields like shipping, food production, or healthcare.
You'll handle heavy equipment and decide how machines can achieve company goals. Instead of just following basic instructions, you'll usually need to work independently. Your job includes scheduling machine usage and deciding which machines are right for which tasks. For example, your boss might tell you they need several storage containers moved to another warehouse. Then it would be your job to figure out how to use the cranes or forklifts to finish this task.
Machine operators are more than just equipment users. They're also responsible for keeping the machines running smoothly. Some machines will require you to perform regular maintenance like tightening fittings or adding oil. If a machine breaks down, you'll be the person who examines it. Most machine operators handle repairs themselves, but you'll also need to recognize when you need to call in a professional repair person.
The machines you would operate are typically pieces of equipment that the average person cannot handle safely. You'll have the important task of keeping your co-workers safe. It will be your duty to learn about all safety regulations for your industry and equipment. You'll need to make changes and implement rules to avoid accidents.