Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators
Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators operate machines to manufacture paper packaging and other paper products, fibreboard stock, logs, plywood, particle board, solid laminate and similar timber products.
setting up printing plates, ink circulation systems, knives, creases, cutting dies, and folding and gluing machines
loading machines with paper and fibreboard
operating machines to form cardboard containers, paper plates, egg cartons, tissue paper and other paper products
adjusting and cleaning machines and performing minor repairs
securing timber into place and setting saws to produce specified sizes of plank and board to be cut
starting machines and feeding stock onto cutting saw, and operating automatic feed mechanisms
raising and lowering saws to trim boards and remove defects such as rot and splits
controlling lathes and slicing machines to produce veneers, and laminating veneer using glue
verifying dimensions of cut stock and accuracy of cuts
checking saws and other machines for safety, sharpness and correct functioning
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers in this occupation is likely to remain stable.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 89% of people employed as Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 23 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 44 hours per week in their main job. This is the same as the all jobs average.
More than half of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median hourly earnings are $32, this is lower than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Most Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators work in the Manufacturing industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators||All Jobs Average|
Around 64% of Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have a large share of employment relative to their population size.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators is 43 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 6% of the workforce. This is 42 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.2||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not usually required to work as a Paper or Wood Processing Machine Operator.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Pulp & Paper Manufacturing Industry and Forest and Wood Products Industry VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||0.7||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||37.4||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators who are hardworking, have good people skills and are reliable.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
43%Operation and control
Controlling equipment or systems.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
39%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
39%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
36%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Talking to others.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Maintaining equipment and deciding what maintenance will be needed in the future.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
34%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Fixing machines or systems.
Reading work related information.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Deciding on the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
56%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
43%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
40%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
37%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
34%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
30%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
28%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
18%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
14%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
11%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
10%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Pay attention to a certain sound when there are other distracting sounds.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Keep your hand or arm steady.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Communicate by speaking.
43%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Use your eyes to quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Quickly move your hand, finger, or foot when a sound, light, picture or something else appears.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
38%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
84%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
75%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
67%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
58%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
56%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
56%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
55%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
54%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
54%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
53%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
52%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
51%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
51%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
50%Leading and encouraging a team
Encouraging and building trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
47%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
46%Coaching and developing others
Working out the needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or helping them to improve.
44%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
42%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
41%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
39%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
97%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
97%Loud or uncomfortable sounds
Be exposed to noises and sounds that are distracting or uncomfortable.
96%Spend time standing
Spend time standing at work.
90%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
89%Pace of work set by equipment
Pace of work depends on the speed of equipment or machinery.
Work to strict deadlines.
87%Making repetitive motions
Spend time making repetitive motions.
84%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
81%Walking and running
Spend time walking and running.
81%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
78%Cramped work space
Work in an awkward position or in cramped work spaces.
73%Bending or twisting your body
Spend time bending or twisting your body.
73%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
Work near dangerous equipment like saws, machinery with open moving parts, or moving traffic.
70%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Talk with people face-to-face.
69%Repeating same tasks
Repeat the same tasks or activities (e.g., key entry) over and over, without stopping.
Work with people in a group or team.
67%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-9196.00 - Paper Goods Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.