Are You Paying Your Machine Operators Enough?

Let’s keep it real: Employers don’t want to cheat their employees, but they also need to keep labor costs down.

Machine operators are no different than any other worker. They want to make as much money as possible, and most have a good idea of what the typical pay rate is for their job.

However, there’s still a lot of wiggle room between what a machine operator wants to get paid and what their employer can afford. Furthermore, the murky nature of the conversations around salary can make determining a machine operator pay rate difficult.

Simply put, if you want to minimize turnover and keep your machine operators engaged in their work, you need to pay them what they are worth to your organization.

Below are a few things to consider when trying to figure out what to pay a machine operator.


What does the typical machine operator do and what is the standard pay range?

First, it’s important to establish the type of worker being discussed here.

For our purposes, a machine operator is someone who may have some vocational training and who works with heavy machinery – from starting it up, to using it, to shutting it down. They should be able to tell when the machine is working properly and generating good products or outcomes. A machine operator should also be able to perform basic maintenance on the machine they use.

According to the federal government’s statistics, the median pay for a machine operator in 2010 was $19.19 per hour or almost $40,000 annually.


What to consider when paying a machine operator

When considering pay for a machine operator, it’s important to start with the job description. If it looks a lot like the description above, then consider the pay rate above to be a starting point. However, if the job is more involved, or much more simplistic, it may not be a machine operator as defined by the government.

In any case, look for similar job descriptions being posted by other companies and the pay rates that those companies are offering.

Also, it’s important to note the pay rate will be affected by the local cost of living. For instance, a machine operator in Detroit would be expected to make less than a machine operator in New York City.

You should also consider what other forms of compensation or rewards someone working in the job might receive. For instance, a lower pay rate might be significantly offset by the chance to work a flexible schedule, a good chance for advancement, on-site daycare, a tuition reimbursement program or generous healthcare benefits. It should go without saying if your company can offer significant benefits without incurring significant costs, it can hire and retain machine operators at a lower pay rate than the competition.

At LTI, we work with our client companies to arrange for a pay rate that all parties find agreeable. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your company succeed.