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Job Description of a Screw Machine Operator

A screw machine operator requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Screw machine operators are machinists who operate an automatic lathe to produce custom parts that meet certain specifications. They need to know how to read blueprints and use basic mathematics to create the parts. Some mechanical ability is required, as is attention to detail. A high school diploma or the equivalent is often sufficient for this job, although vocational schools and community colleges may offer relevant courses and certificate programs.

Required EducationHigh school diploma or GED certificate
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 14% decline for lathe and turning machine operators
Median Salary (2013)* $35,740 for lathe and turning machine operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Screw Machine Operator Job Description

Screw machine operators perform a variety of tasks in their work with one or more multiple-spindle, automatic lathe-type screw machines. These machines are used to produce custom parts from stock metal or other materials. Screw machine operators ensure the machine is properly set up to perform the various operations needed to produce these parts. Operators read blueprints and determine exactly what screw machine settings are needed to create an actual working part from the plans. The operator chooses cutting speeds, the depth of cuts, how fast the machine should run and which cutting tools should be used for each operation. Operators base their decisions on experience, knowledge about the materials being used and basic mathematic principles.

Job Duties

Operators install and adjust cams, gears and stops to the screw machine and verify the positioning of cutting tools by using gauges or other instruments. Operators are responsible for turning the machine on and off according to safety protocols. During an operation, operators carefully monitor the screw machine, making changes to speed, feed rates or tool position to ensure accurate reproduction of the plans. After a sample part has been produced, screw machine operators verify that the part meets specifications of the blueprints by using a variety of tools, such as calipers and micrometers.

Other Responsibilities

Operators are responsible for labeling finished products and keeping track of materials used during production; they may be required to submit records regarding productivity and operation quality.

In addition, screw machine operators perform regular maintenance or repair on the screw machine, such as replacing work parts or using other machines to sharpen tools. Some jobs require screw machine operators to have experience with a particular brand of screw machine. An operator's job performance is evaluated according to their mastery of a variety of tools, the complexity of a particular job and the quality of the final product.

Salary and Employment Outlook

Screw machine operators aren't listed separately in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but its reports indicated that lathe and turning machine operators were expected to see a 14% decline in employment from 2012 to 2022. The BLS also stated that the median annual salary for lathe and turning machine operators was $35,740 in its May 2013 report.

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