5 Reasons to Become a Press Brake Operator

When thinking of the metal fabrication industry, one’s mind may conjure images of a dirty shop floor with workers handling dangerous equipment. In reality, modern metal fabricators like Badger Sheet Metal Works have become leaders in innovation and using emerging technology, making the shop floor one of the cleanest and safest places to be employed. 

Metal fabrication companies have also become a major national economic player, employing a whopping 1.4 million people. The industry, which continues to see consistent growth paired with the departure of the Baby Boomer generation, is poised to hire hundreds of thousands of workers every year. Among those needed positions are press brake operators.

What is a press brake?

Today’s press brakes use advanced computer technology to bend sheet metal and other materials into straight lines or complex shapes, such as cylinders, cones and more. The CNC technology delivers incredible precision, but it still requires assistance and intervention from a machine operator.

What are the duties of a press brake operator?

Press brake operators are responsible for the daily setup and operation of the machine. Tasks often required by the job include:

  • Reading customer orders and completing all projects to specifications
  • Reading production schedules and determining materials as needed
  • Setting up, operating and tending to the machine
  • Communicating with other operators, the press brake programmer and other departments regarding job timing, process, flow and new projects
  • Demonstrating a full understanding of print reading and geometric tolerances and how they relate to the finished part
  • Measuring work pieces’ dimensions to determine accuracy

Press brake operators employ a lot of problem solving while on the job. One must be able to carry out equipment maintenance, check materials for imperfections and quickly repair a machine when it malfunctions.

To achieve optimum results, press brake operators must have at least a basic knowledge and understanding of fabrication, press brake and/or punch operations and setup. They should also demonstrate prowess in math, computers, communication, and time management.

Most press brake operators find the position to be incredibly rewarding. Below, we’ve laid out some of the reasons why:

A Grounded Start with Room to Grow

Metal fabrication often provides a stable, life-long career with paths of advancement. The entry-level work as a press brake operator opens the door for career growth within the industry. After dedicating some time to hone your skills, roles within the supervisory, quality assurance or business development arms of the company will likely be there if you choose to take them. Most companies much prefer to promote from within their ranks than seek to fill positions from the outside. 

Pay and Benefits That are a Cut Above

Metal fabrication offers competitive pay and benefits packages. A press brake operator’s pay rate, for example, has far outpaced minimum wage. On average, those in manufacturing-related jobs in the U.S. earn 13 percent more in hourly compensation (wages and benefits) than comparable workers earn in the rest of the private sector. Workers in manufacturing also have the highest tenure among major industries.

Making Something Real

In many jobs, a worker’s output is measured in words, ideas or the input of data into a computer. Conversely, a career as a press brake operator gives you the opportunity to create something tangible every day. Whether working on a mining or food grade equipment project, you can point to the part or product and feel the satisfaction of knowing you helped make it. In this line of work, you turn projects and raw material into a usable, finished product.

Access to the Cutting Edge

Modern metal fabrication has been driven by the innovations brought by the Industrial Internet of Things, automation, robotics, big data, and so much more. The industry implements new technologies well before they are ramped to full-scale consumer production. This makes metal fabrication and press brake operating jobs an ideal fit for early adopters of technology who enjoy exploring new, revolutionary equipment and their use in the workplace.

A Real Contribution to National Success

Manufacturing is by far the most important sector of the U.S. economy in terms of total output and employment. Consider this: The National Association of Manufacturers indicates that, for every dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.81 is added to the economy—the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

Working as a press brake operator has a direct impact on the quality of life in America, which is a primary point of pride for many who pursue it as a career.

Your Future in Metal Fabrication Starts at Badger Sheet Metal Works

Ready for a job in a dynamic environment where the work produces tangible results? Are you looking to start a career instead of just taking another job? Whether you’re a seasoned expert or a young professional ready to make a real impact, there’s a lot to love about working as a press brake operator!

For more information on becoming a press brake operator at Badger Sheet Metal Works or other job opportunities, visit BSMW’s Careers page today.


Badger Sheet Metal Works is a custom and OEM metal fabrication partner for a wide range of industries including food and dairy, mining, petroleum, material handling, medical and pharmaceutical. The company employs approximately 100 people in a custom-designed plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The facility includes a 70 by 320-foot main assembly bay with four crane rails featuring a total lifting capacity of 30 tons and a 22-foot under-hook height.

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