Router operator

A CNC router operator workstation


Router operators set up and operate multi-spindle routing machines, in order to hollow-out or cut various hard materials such as wood, composites, aluminium, steel, plastics; and others, such as foams. They are also able to read blueprints to determine cutting locations and specific sizes.

The duties of a router operator include, but are not limited to:

  • Inspecting parts for quality and defects before they leave the shop floor
  • Operating computer controlled routers, saws, drill presses, lathes, grinders, shapers, planers, and other woodworking machines
  • Maintaining a safe work environment by following safety regulations and procedures
  • Reading blueprints and other drawings to determine the appropriate cutting tool for each task
  • Performing routine maintenance on machinery to ensure that it is in working order
  • Installing new equipment and updating software for improved efficiency
  • Interpreting drawings and converting them into computer instructions for the machine to follow
  • Setting up work orders for production runs and communicating with other departments regarding production schedules
  • Following standard operating procedures to complete production tasks

Working conditions

Router operators typically work in manufacturing or production settings, such as factories or machine shops. They may also work in office settings, such as engineering firms, if they are responsible for programming the machines. The work environment is usually well-lit and clean, although it can be noisy.

Router operators typically work regular hours, although they may be required to work overtime to meet deadlines. The job can be physically demanding, as router operators may have to lift or move heavy objects.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to router operator:

cnc router operative
router tender
CNC router setter
multi-spindle routing machine operator
cnc router setter
CNC router operative
CNC router operator
multi-spindle routing machine operative
CNC router tender
router operative
multi-spindle routing machine setter
router setter
multi-spindle routing machinist
multi-spindle routing machine tender
cnc router tender

Minimum qualifications

Router operators are typically required to have a high school diploma. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed a technical or vocational program.

Many companies will provide on-the-job training for new CNC router operators. This training will typically last for a few weeks to a month and will teach you the basics of the job, including safety procedures, how to use the machinery and how to perform various tasks.

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.

Router operator is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Router operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to router operator.

edge bander operator
slitter operator
insulating tube winder
heat sealing machine operator
wood boring machine operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of router operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of router operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

pulp control operator
automated assembly line operator
product development engineering technician
metal production supervisor
pneumatic engineering technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of router operator.

  • 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 router operator.

  • Supply machine with appropriate tools: Supply the machine with the necessary tools and items for a particular production purpose.
  • Operate router machinery: Operate machines and equipment used for cutting various hard materials, such as wood, composites, aluminium, steel, plastics and foams.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Check quality of raw materials: Check the quality of basic materials used for the production of semi-finished and finished goods by assessing some of its characteristics and, if needed, select samples to be analysed.
  • Maintain router machinery: Maintain machinery and equipment for cutting various hard materials, to ensure that it is clean and in safe, working order. Perform routine maintenance on equipment and adjust when necessary, using hand and power tools.
  • Ensure conformity to specifications: Ensure that the assembled products are conform to the specifications given.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of router operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • 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.
  • Types of plastic: Types of plastic materials and their chemical composition, physical properties, possible issues and usage cases.
  • Types of wood: Types of wood, such as birch, pine, poplar, mahogany, maple and tulipwood.
  • Manufacturing of daily use goods: The manufacturing of items used in the daily life, personal use or daily practice. These products include protective safety equipment, drawing equipment, stamps, umbrellas, cigarette lighters, baskets, candles, and many other miscellaneous articles.
  • Metal smoothing technologies: The various technologies used for the smoothening, polishing and buffing of fabricated metal workpieces.
  • Manufacturing of sports equipment: The manufacture of products and equipment used for both outdoor and indoor sports activities, such as balls, rackets, ski’s, surfboards, fishing, hunting, skating or fitness centre equipment.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of router operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • 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.
  • Manipulate plastic: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of plastic.
  • Record production data for quality control: Keep records of the machine’s faults, interventions and irregularities for quality control.
  • Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
  • Carry out measurements of parts: Operate measurement instruments to measure parts of manufactured objects. Take into consideration specifications of manufacturers to perform the measuring.
  • Weigh materials: Weigh materials and products, record weight and other relevant data on tags or labels.
  • Manipulate wood: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of wood.
  • Monitor stock level: Evaluate how much stock is used and determine what should be ordered.
  • Pack goods: Pack different kinds of goods such as finished manufactured products or goods in use. Pack goods by hand in boxes, bags and other types of containers.
  • Apply a protective layer: Apply a layer of protective solutions such as permethrine to protect the product from damage such as corrosion, fire or parasites, using a spray gun or paintbrush.
  • Sand wood: Use sanding machines or hand tools to remove paint or other substances from the surface of the wood, or to smoothen and finish the wood.
  • 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.
  • Repair router machinery: Repair broken components or systems of machinery and equipment used for the cutting various hard materials, using hand and power tools.
  • 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.

ISCO group and title

7223 – Metal working machine tool setters and operators

  1. Router operator – ESCO
  2. CNC Router Operator Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By matthew venn from london, uk – my cnc router in my workshop, CC BY-SA 2.0
Last updated on September 22, 2022

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