Milling machine operators set up, program and control milling machines, designed to cut excess material from metal workpieces using a computer-controlled rotary-cutting, milling cutter. They read milling machine blueprints and tooling instructions, perform regular machine maintenance, and make adjustments to the milling controls, such as the depth of cuts or the rotation speed.
The following job titles also refer to milling machine operator:
numerical controlled lathe technician
milling machine set-up operator
computer numerical controlled milling machine operator
numerical controlled lathe operator
horizontal machining centre operator
CNC milling machine operator
CNC milling operative
numerical controlled milling machine operator
vertical machining centre operator
horizontal machining operator
CNC milling machine operative
horizontal machining operative
numerical controlled milling machine technician
milling machine tender
computer numerical controlled milling machine operative
numerical control milling operator
numerical controlled milling operator
numerical control milling operative
numerical controlled milling machine inspector
No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a milling machine operator.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Milling machine operator is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Milling machine operator career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to milling machine operator.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of milling machine operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of milling machine operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of milling machine operator.
- Statistical process control: Method of quality control that uses statistics to monitor processes.
- CAM software: Different tools for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to control machinery and machine tools in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation as part of the manufacturing processes of workpieces.
- Manufacturing processes: The steps required through which a material is transformed into a product, its development and full-scale manufacturing.
- Quality and cycle time optimisation: The most optimal rotation or cycle time and over-all quality of a tool or a machine’s processes.
- Types of metal: Qualities, specifications, applications and reactions to different fabricating processes of various types of metal, such as steel, aluminium, brass, copper and others.
- Quality standards: The national and international requirements, specifications and guidelines to ensure that products, services and processes are of good quality and fit for purpose.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of milling machine operator.
- Remove inadequate workpieces: Evaluate which deficient processed workpieces do not meet the set-up standard and should be removed and sort the waste according to regulations.
- Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
- Remove processed workpiece: Remove individual workpieces after processing, from the manufacturing machine or the machine tool. In case of a conveyor belt this involves quick, continuous movement.
- Operate precision measuring equipment: Measure the size of a processed part when checking and marking it to check if it is up to standard by use of two and three dimensional precision measuring equipment such as a caliper, a micrometer, and a measuring gauge.
- Perform test run: Perform tests putting a system, machine, tool or other equipment through a series of actions under actual operating conditions in order to assess its reliability and suitability to realise its tasks, and adjust settings accordingly.
- Dispose of cutting waste material: Dispose of possibly hazardous waste material created in the cutting process, such as swarf, scrap and slugs, sort according to regulations, and clean up workplace.
- Read standard blueprints: Read and comprehend standard blueprints, machine, and process drawings.
- Ensure equipment availability: Ensure that the necessary equipment is provided, ready and available for use before start of procedures.
- Use CAM software: Use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programmes to control machinery and machine tools in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation as part of the manufacturing processes of workpieces.
- Monitor automated machines: Continuously check up on the automated machine’s set-up and execution or make regular control rounds. If necessary, record and interpret data on the operating conditions of installations and equipment in order to identify abnormalities.
- Use automatic programming: Utilise specialised software tools to generate computer code from specifications, such as diagrams, structured informations or other means of describing functionality.
- Perform machine maintenance: Perform regular maintenance, possibly including corrections and alterations, on a machine or machine tool to ensure it remains in a proper productive state.
- Supply machine: Ensure the machine is fed the necessary and adequate materials and control the placement or automatic feed and retrieval of work pieces in the machines or machine tools on the production line.
- Consult technical resources: Read and interpret such technical resources such as digital or paper drawings and adjustment data in order to properly set up a machine or working tool, or to assemble mechanical equipment.
- Set up the controller of a machine: Set up and give commands to a machine by dispatching the appropriate data and input into the (computer) controller corresponding with the desired processed product.
- Interpret geometric dimensions and tolerances: Understand and assess the models and symbolic language of the GD&T system indicating engineering tolerances.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of milling machine operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Non-ferrous metal processing: Various processing methods on non-ferrous metals and alloys such as copper, zinc and aluminium.
- Geometry: Branch of mathematics related to questions of shape, size, relative position of figures and the properties of space.
- Cutting technologies: The variety of cutting technologies, such as software or mechanics, guiding cutting processes through lasering, sawing, milling etc.
- Manufacturing of metal structures: The production of metal structures for construction.
- Cadd software: The computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) is the use of computer technology for design and design documentation. CAD software replaces manual drafting with an automated process.
- Electrical engineering: Understand electrical engineering, a field of engineering that deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.
- Ferrous metal processing: Various processing methods on iron and iron-containing alloys such as steel, stainless steel and pig iron.
- Manufacturing of metal household articles: The manufacture of flatware , hollowware , dinnerware and other non-electrical utensils for use at the table or in the kitchen.
- Manufacturing of small metal parts: The manufacture of metal cable, plaited bands and other articles of that type, uninsulated or insulated cable not capable of being used as a conductor of electricity, coated or cored wire as well as barbed wire, wire fencing, grill, netting, cloth etc. Manufacture of coated electrodes for electric arc-welding, nails and pins, chain and springs (except watch springs): as well as leaves for springs.
- Manufacturing of metal containers: The manufacture of reservoirs, tanks and similar containers of metal, of types normally installed as fixtures for storage or manufacturing use. The manufacture of metal containers for compressed or liquefied gas.
- Milling machines: Milling and mills and their operation in theory and practice.
- CAE software: The software to perform computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis tasks such as Finite Element Analysis and Computional Fluid Dynamics.
- Manufacturing of metal assembly products: The manufacture of rivets, washers and similar non-threaded products, screw machine products, screws, nuts and similar threaded products.
- Trigonometry: The subdiscipline of mathematics which explores relationships among angles and lengths of triangles.
- Manufacturing of steel drums and similar containers: The manufacture of pails, cans, drums, buckets, boxes, through metalworking processes.
- CAD software: The computer-aided design (CAD) software for creating, modifying, analysing or optimising a design.
- Manufacturing of heating equipment: The manufacture of electrical ovens and water heaters by metalworking processes.
- Types of metal manufacturing processes: Metal processes linked to the different types of metal, such as casting processes, heat treatment processes, repair processes and other metal manufacturing processes.
- Manufacturing of door furniture from metal: The manufacture of metal items that can be attached to a door in order to support its function and appearance. The manufacture of padlocks, locks, keys, hinges and the like, and hardware for buildings, furniture, vehicles etc.
- Manufacturing of light metal packaging: The manufacture of tins and cans for food products, collapsible tubes and boxes, and of metallic closures.
- Manufacturing of doors from metal: The manufacture of metal doors, windows and their frames, shutters and gates, and the metal room partitions for floor attachment.
- Manufacturing of weapons and ammunition: The manufacture of heavy weapons (artillery, mobile guns, rocket launchers, torpedo tubes, heavy machine guns), small arms (revolvers, shotguns, light machine guns), air or gas guns and pistols, and war ammunition. Also the manufacture of hunting, sporting or protective firearms and ammunition and of explosive devices such as bombs, mines and torpedoes.
- Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.
- Manufacturing of steam generators: The manufacture of steam or other vapour generators, the manufacture of auxiliary plant for use with steam generators: condensers, economisers, superheaters, steam collectors and accumulators. The manufacture of nuclear reactors, parts for marine or power boilers. Also the production of pipe system construction comprising further processing of tubes generally to make pressure pipes or pipe systems together with the associated design and construction work.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of milling machine operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
- Supply machine with appropriate tools: Supply the machine with the necessary tools and items for a particular production purpose.
- Record production data for quality control: Keep records of the machine’s faults, interventions and irregularities for quality control.
- Monitor stock level: Evaluate how much stock is used and determine what should be ordered.
- Tend CNC milling machine: Tend a computer numerical controlled (CNC) milling machine designed for cutting manufacturing processes on metal, wooden, plastic materials and others, monitor and operate it, according to regulations.
- Procure mechanical machinery: Procure adequate machinery. Research the market to find the best machinery, staying within budget limits, and negotiate the purchase. Maintain records.
- Provide advice to technicians: Offer help and advice to service technicians in case of machine malfunctions and other repair tasks.
- Mark processed workpiece: Inspect and mark parts of the workpiece to indicate how they will fit into the finished product.
- Maintain mechanical equipment: Observe and listen to machinery operation to detect malfunction. Service, repair, adjust, and test machines, parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical principles. Maintain and repair vehicles meant for cargo, passengers, farming and landscaping.
- Use CAD software: Use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation of a design.
- Program a CNC controller: Set up the desired product design in the CNC controller of the CNC machine for product manufacturing.
- Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
- Liaise with managers: Liaise with managers of other departments ensuring effective service and communication, i.e. sales, planning, purchasing, trading, distribution and technical.
ISCO group and title
7223 – Metal working machine tool setters and operators
- Milling machine operator – ESCO
- Featured image: By National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from USA – Brenda J. Jones – Turret Milling Machine, Public Domain