Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Analytical: 21
  • Creative: 17
  • Supported: 13
  • Social: 3
  • Purpose: 2

What Metal and Plastic Machine Workers Do

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces.

Work Environment

Metal and plastic machine workers are employed mainly in factories. Workers must adhere to safety standards to protect themselves from workplace hazards. Most work full time, and some work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Metal or Plastic Machine Worker

A few months of on-the-job training is enough for most workers to learn basic machine operations, but 1 year or more is required to become proficient. Computer-controlled machine workers may need more training.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Metal furnace operators, tenders, pourers, and casters
  • Welding, soldering, and brazing workers
  • Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  • Model makers, patternmakers, and molding machine setters, metal and plastic
  • Machine tool cutting setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  • Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  • Computer control programmers and operators
  • Miscellaneous metal workers and plastic workers, including multiple machine tool setters
  • Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of metal and plastic machine workers is projected to decline 13 percent from 2014 to 2024. Employment is expected to decline due to advances in technology and foreign competition.

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    Job Trends for Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

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    This occupation supported 1,013,099 jobs in 2012 and 1,048,499 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 3.5%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to decrease by 5.8% in 2022 to 954,000 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 1,001,200, compared with an observed value of 1,048,499, 4.7% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to decrease by 13.2% in 2024 to 914,800 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 942,100 jobs for 2024, 3.0% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.

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