Sewing Operator: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 21, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a sewing operator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

There are no formal educational requirements to become a sewing machine operator. Experience is important, and it is possible to gain this through adult classes. Math and technology skills are also an asset.

Essential Information

Sewing machine operators work within the clothing and textile industries, and may also work in manufacturing in accordance with their skill level. Those looking to become employed in this industry do not need any postsecondary education, although experience is preferred.

Required Education Sewing experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 27% decline
Median Salary (2015)* $22,550

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Sewing Machine Operator

Depending on a sewing operator's experience, the job requirements are going to vary. A beginning operator may work on a section of clothing using a single needle machine, while a more experienced operator may work on a particularly difficult section of clothing using a double needle machine. Operators familiar with making clothes may become employed under the title of a utility worker and are qualified to work wherever help is needed within the industry. While the sewing operator is responsible for running the machines and creating sections of clothing, he or she may also put together and match pieces of clothing before they are sewn.

The Michigan Jobs and Career Portal reported that the sewing machine operator usually works at his or her own machine in a large room with other sewing machine operators. Operators generally work 32-40 hours a week, and those in the apparel industry may work fewer hours.

The Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) is open to all those working in the textile, retail and manufacturing industries. Those who work in distribution centers for major retailers and those working in clothing manufacturing are eligible to join this union.

Duties of a Sewing Machine Operator

The Michigan Jobs and Career Portal further stated that a sewing machine operator is generally responsible for selecting all of the equipment needed for the sewing process, which includes setting up the machine and its peripherals, and using the tools correctly. These tools mostly include scissors, knives, fasteners, stiffeners, templates and measuring devices. Operators are also responsible for monitoring machine operation, as well as inspecting the clothing after it has been rendered.

Requirements for a Sewing Machine Operator

California's Employment Development Department states that while there aren't any educational requirements for sewing machine operators, experience in the field is often preferred, and training may be offered at many adult schools or available on the job. Even though there aren't any postsecondary education requirements, knowledge of math and technology at the high school level is helpful. The ability to work quickly in this occupation is paramount since wages are often earned according to the amount of pieces successfully completed.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median salary of $25,030 for sewing machine operators. From 2018-2028, the BLS predicted a decline of 11.9% in jobs for this occupation.

Sewing machine operators use commercial equipment to construct clothes or textiles. No special training is needed, but jobs are predicted to decline tremendously for these workers through 2028. Salaries are low and often based on quantity of work produced.

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