What Does a Mill Operator Do?

Dan Cavallari

The term "mill operator" is fairly broad and can refer to several types of jobs, but in general, this type of operator will be responsible for operating a mill within a factory, warehouse, farm, or other industrial setting. The mill operator is responsible for running mill machinery, reading plans and schematics, monitoring the progress of a milling job, maintaining raw materials as well as finished products that are then prepped for transport or sale, and even maintaining mill machinery. In some cases, the operator may be responsible for performing maintenance and repairs on the machinery as well.

A mill operator may be required to wear safety equipment such as gloves and hard hats.
A mill operator may be required to wear safety equipment such as gloves and hard hats.

Steel rolling mills commonly employ mill operators to run various types of machinery involved in the process of creating usable products. The mill operator will need to be able to complete work orders, manage an inventory, and in some cases, manage other employees. All operators must undergo safety training to learn how to use emergency shut-off systems and other safety protocols. Proper safety equipment must be worn at all times, including hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, and in some cases gloves.

Computer training is also likely to be necessary in modern industrial settings. Many mill machines are controlled by computers that must be set up and run properly by the mill operator. Some machines do not run on computers, in which case computer training may not be necessary, but it is usually a wise decision to seek out computer training to broaden one's options within the industry. Basic math and communications skills are also necessary to perform well in this job, and the mill operator must be in reasonably good health to perform the physical duties of the job.

Though not always the case, becoming a mill operator is not generally difficult and does not require a high level of education. Most operators need only a high school education or equivalent qualification, and once that education is complete, he or she will generally need to undergo job training through a vocational school or secure an apprenticeship to learn the necessary skills. A vocational school program can take up to two years or more to complete, and once finished with the program, a job candidate will generally be prepared to become a mill operator. Additional training or certification may be necessary. An apprenticeship can last several years, during which time the employee will work under the guidance and supervision of a more experienced operator to learn the necessary skills.

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