Industrial Machine Operator apprenticeship

Industrial Machine Operator Apprenticeship

18-MONTH | 3,000 HOURS

What is an Industrial Machine Operator

What is an Industrial Machine Operator?

An Industrial Machine Operator is responsible for operating and maintaining the machinery used in the production of food products.

This can include tasks such as:

  • setting up and adjusting machines,
  • monitoring production processes,
  • performing routine maintenance, and
  • troubleshooting any issues that arise.

They may also be responsible for ensuring that the machinery is operating in compliance with food safety regulations and standards.

Every industrial machine requires an operator to interact with it to set parameters, adjust parameters, perform initial set up, ensure quality standards are adhered to.

Benefits of becoming an Industrial Machine Operator

What are the Benefits of Becoming an Industrial Machine Operator?

An Industrial Machine Operator is an entry-level apprenticeship occupation that develops foundational manufacturing skills in a variety of industries—particularly food processing and packaging.

Upon completion of an Industrial Machine Operator apprenticeship, you can move onto more advanced occupations such as Machinist, Maintenance Technician, Metal Fabricator and Quality Control Inspector.

As an Industrial Machine Operator, you will enjoy a long-term career with a good salary, job advancement opportunities, and the chance to work with your hands and cutting-edge technology.

Step to Becoming an Apprentice

Steps to becoming an AJAC apprentice
Identify an employer AJAC partners with and apply for an open position.
Talk with your supervisor to receive company approval for participation.
AJAC will visit your employer to sign our Apprenticeship Agreement.
Once you are registered, AJAC will enroll you in our apprenticeship classes.
Each month, submit your on-the-job training hours through our Apprentice Tracking System.
Upon completion, you will receive AJAC's certificate of completion and a journey-level card in your respective occupation.
6 Steps to Becoming an Apprentice

6 Steps to Becoming an Apprentice


Get Hired by a Participating Employer AJAC Partners With


Receive Participation Approval from Your Employer


Sign an Apprenticeship Agreement with AJAC


Enroll in AJAC’s Apprenticeship Classes Each Quarter


Log and Submit Your OJT Hours Monthly


Receive a Nationally-Recognized Journey-Level Certification from L&I

How Much Can I Earn?


*This is a Washington State average for this occupation. Wage rates vary by employer, industry, experience and location. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.

Map of Washington and Idaho where AJAC operates apprenticeship program

Where Will I Work?

AJAC has partnered with 300+ advanced manufacturers to provide supervised, structured, paid on-the-job training.

AJAC apprentices can only work for companies that agree to hire them and place them into the program.

Each company has their own methodology for who they select as an apprentice.

Employers We Partner With
Industrial Machine Operator classes

Where Are Classes Held?

Classes are held one night a week, typically on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

AJAC’s apprenticeships classes are structured for both online learning or in-person learning. Depending on the specific class you are taking, you may be required to complete it online or in-person.

In-person classes are held either a local community/technical college, high school, or skills center.

Meet Our Instructors

Apprenticeship Classes

Industrial Machine Operator apprentices take six college-level classes. Each class consists of 50 hours of lecture and/or practical application. Upon completion of each class, apprentices will receive 5 college credits.

As a registered apprentice, you automatically receive 50% reduced tuition. Over half of AJAC’s partnering employers elect to pay for their apprentice’s tuition, making the entire apprenticeship free-of-cost.

Currently, each class costs $300 out-of-pocket.

Safety & Sanitation

This course introduces the concepts of working in a safe and productive food manufacturing workplace. Apprentices explain important OSHA safety standards as well as standard operating procedures to ensure proper sanitation.

Industrial Maintenance & Mechatronics 1

This is the first of two courses that explores the foundational principles and skills of industrial machine maintenance as it relates to a machine operator. Apprentices learn predictive and preventative maintenance and troubleshooting strategies for machine repair.

Industrial Maintenance & Mechatronics 2

This is the second of two courses that explores the foundational principles and skills of industrial machine maintenance as it relates to the machine operators. Apprentices learn about mechanical rigging and installation, including safety, installation, and ways to perform lifts.

Quality Assurance & Inspection

In this course, apprentices develop an understanding of the functions of a Quality Assurance (QA) system. They identify the elements of QA systems and how they support safe food manufacturing processing. They learn the purpose of food safety and quality practices and strategies.

Material Science (Perishable/Non-Perishable)

This course explores the relationship between the basic principles of science and the safe manufacturing of food products. Apprentices gain an understanding of food science to learn how it applies to their day-to-day jobs. They explain the foundational principles of food chemistry, food microbiology, and food physics and how they relate to food production.

Food Manufacturing Technology

This course explores the changing world of food manufacturing technology and helps students apply what they learn to a food-processing environment. Apprentices describe packaging, filling, sealing, boxing, labeling, and robotic sorting and palletizer systems.

On-the-Job Training Competencies

The table below is a schedule of tasks and hours designed as a guide. The 3,000 hours will be completed over the course of the apprenticeship. The apprentice shall be instructed and trained in all operations and methods customarily used on the various machines. Each company will adhere to the schedule as closely as facilities will permit in order to provide the apprentice with well-rounded experience and practice on all relevant equipment and processes in the shop.

OJT CompetencyApprox. OJT Hours
Preventative & Predicative Machine Maintenance300
Manufacturing Basics & Safety500
Quality Assurance Basics800
Manufacturing Equipment Setup & Production Processes1,400


AJAC | Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships

Launch Your Career Today!

Submit your information using the link below. After we receive your information, an AJAC representative will contact you for next steps. Please note, this is not an official application to become an apprentice. After a partnering employers agrees to enroll you in the program, you will officially apply and enroll at that time.