Blow molding machine operators work in factories, shaping plastic used for consumer products, such as toys, tools or medical devices. In addition to operating the molding machine, they inspect finished products to ensure quality, adjusting the machine's controls as necessary to deliver a product that meets customer specifications. With today's mechanized manufacturing processes, blow molding machine operators have to be technologically savvy and many have a technical school certificate in machine operation.
Entry-level salaries of blow molding machine operators are typically in the bottom 10 percent of all earners. According to the website Salary Expert, average salaries for blow molding machine operators in 10 randomly selected cities are: Pierre, S.D., $16,038; Miami, $17,938; Houston, $18,500; Augusta, Maine, $18,711; Bensalem, Pa., $19,520; Chicago, $21,767; Walla Walla, Wash., $22,552; Baltimore; $24,086; Washington, D.C., $24,526; and New York, $26,915.
Nationally, the average yearly income for blow molding machine operators, according to Salary Expert, was $29,284 or $14.08 per hour, as of 2013, compared to an average of $42,821 annually or $20.59 for those in the 90th percentile. In 10 randomly selected cities, average earnings were Pierre, S.D., $23,034; Miami, $25,762; Houston, $26,568; Augusta, Maine, $26,871; Bensalem, Pa., $28,032 ; Chicago, $31,260; Walla Walla, Wash., $32,386; Baltimore, $34,589; Washington, D.C., $35,222; and New York, $38,653. The difference between the highest paying and lowest paying city average was $15,619 per year or $7.51 per hour.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job demand for plastic molding machine workers as a whole to increase by 5 percent through 2020, which is 9 percent less than all other occupations. This projection compares to demand for production occupations as a whole, projected to increase by 4 percent. The Bureau forecasts that there will be 5,800 more factory workers specializing in machine operations, including plastic molding, by 2020. It cites advances in technology, decreased demand for goods and more efficient production processes as contributing factors.
The U.S. has lost 42,400 factories since 2001 due to overseas outsourcing of manufacturing, according to Richard McCormack, editor of "Manufacturing & Technology News." American-made plastic parts are not always competitive from a price standpoint, leading to a decline in demand for domestic blow molding machine operators. However, those factories remaining in the U.S. are replacing retiring baby boomers, who are more likely to be manual blow machine operators, with a new generation of operators who can run modern, computerized machines.
2016 Salary Information for Metal and Plastic Machine Workers
Metal and plastic machine workers earned a median annual salary of $34,980 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, metal and plastic machine workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $27,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $43,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,039,600 people were employed in the U.S. as metal and plastic machine workers.