Job descriptions and industry overviews

Manufacturing machine operative

25 Jan 2023, 13:37

Manufacturing machine operators keep the wheels of industry rolling and are a vital component in the manufacturing process.

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Alternative job titles for this role

  • Factory machine operator
  • Machinist
  • Tool and die maker
  • Production operative


Manufacturing machine operatives are builders, fabricators, mechanics, craftsmen and quality assurance all rolled into one. They work with heavy machinery on the factory floor, often with computer-controlled equipment or more mechanically based machines to make sure they are set up properly, working well, and producing quality product safely. Machine operators make sure their machines are working at full capacity, are stocked with needed materials and are well-maintained. They perform periodic checks on output and sometimes remove and pack finished items.

What the job involves

  • Gain a thorough knowledge of a wide range of factory machinery, how they work
  • Know what to do if a machine breaks down
  • Maintain machinery
  • Ensure smooth and efficient running of machines
  • Carry out routine maintenance
  • Ensure enough materials or raw materials or components are fed in to machine
  • Conduct periodic checks on output efficiency
  • Remove and pack finished products

How your career can develop

Many manufacturers will take on school leavers as apprentices and allow time for study. Some will cater for those wishing to take their education further and do a third level course in, for instance, an engineering subject.

Why manufacturing machine operations matter


  • Good decision-making skills
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Be able to follow written and spoken instructions, and production schedules
  • Have a good understanding of health and safety requirements
  • Good concentration skills
  • Good observation skills
  • Be able to pay attention to detail
  • Be able to act quickly when a problem arises
  • Have numeracy and literacy skills
  • Teamwork skills

Typical employers

  • Food and drink companies
  • Engineered product makers
  • Consumer goods manufacturers
  • Printing and packaging companies
  • Electronic goods assembly companies

Typical salary

Graduate/Starting €25,000

Senior/Potential €38,000+ depending on experience

Typical qualifications

Many manufacturing machine operatives’ careers are available through apprenticeships, leaving certificate and diploma/PLC level.

Further information

Video: Working in an Irish chocolate factory:

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