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Equipment Operator

Significant Points

This series covers positions that involve supervising, leading, or operating microfilm equipment, peripheral equipment, mail processing equipment, duplicating equipment, and copier/duplicating equipment requiring a knowledge of the operating characteristics of the equipment and controls, the skill and knowledge to set up and adjust the equipment and controls to produce acceptable products or services on a timely basis, and the skill to perform normal operator maintenance.

Nature of the Work

Most equipment operators within this series set up, operate, adjust, and monitor the operation of a variety of single function machines and, to a lesser extent, multiple function machines (e.g., mail processing equipment which sorts computer generated addresses alphabetically or by zip code, produces address labels and then affixes the labels on envelopes). In addition to the obvious tasks of operating machines, operators typically perform minor clerical tasks related or incidental to machine operation and minor repairs/maintenance on equipment operated. The equipment is operated on a substantially full-time basis to facilitate increased speed, accuracy, and economy in government operations.

Equipment operating positions occur throughout governmental operations. They are not restricted solely to office settings. Equipment operating positions occur in shop, production, or other similar settings (e.g., mail and distribution units, duplicating units, machine processing units). Typically, the physical location of the equipment is based on consideration of factors such as size of equipment, number of machines required to provide a particular service, distance from the service unit to the customer, and environmental requirements of the equipment.

This standard applies to a wide variety of equipment operations and processes. The term "operation" within the context of the standard includes set up, adjustment, monitoring, and minor repair, in addition to the actual operation of the equipment. Certain types of equipment are frequently considered representative of particular processes or operations associated with a specific type of work (e.g., an envelope inserting machine with mail processing operations, a roll-to-roll (diazo) duplicator with microform operations). Therefore, equipment which is similar in function or purpose has been grouped and identified as a category of equipment for titling purposes in this standard. The equipment ranges from simple mechanical devices, such as fluid stencil machines, to highly automated and electrically complex equipment, such as a computer output microfilmer. It is essential to note that there is no consistent correlation between skills/knowledges and electrical/ mechanical complexities of equipment operated by employees covered by this standard. Increased levels of equipment complexity (electrical/ mechanical) due to technological advancements, automation, etc., may increase, decrease, or have no significant effect on the skill and knowledge requirements to operate the equipment in this series.

Some of the equipment operated by employees in positions covered by this standard, particularly peripheral computer equipment and computer output microfilming equipment, involve the performance of functions which on the surface appear to be beyond the scope of this series. Nevertheless, the operation of such equipment is covered by this standard when the function is performed by an internal automatic process of the equipment and is not dependent upon programming or computer operating skills and knowledges of the employee, for example, operating a computer output microfilm unit with an internal mini-computer. In such situations, the complexities involved are equipment complexities rather than complexities of the operation. Some peripheral computer devices have operating capabilities which, if fully utilized by the operator, would involve work not covered by this standard series. Therefore, except for trainees, all other positions of equipment operators are to be evaluated on the basis of actual work performed by the operator rather than on the basis of the internal automated functions of the equipment, the potential but unutilized operating capabilities of the equipment, or the similarity of equipment operating characteristics with those of equipment operated by employees in positions covered by other standards.

Equipment operating positions vary significantly in Federal facilities with regard to the number and variety of machines operated. Positions also may range from those responsible for operating one or two types of essentially similar equipment to those responsible for operating a number of dissimilar types of equipment. These differences are typically attributable to the relative size of the equipment section, the degree of equipment similarities, and the degree of difficulty in operating the equipment. The number of machines operated by an employee has no direct effect on the grade of the position; however, the dissimilarity of the operating processes and the difficulty of operation may affect the complexity level to be applied under Factor 4 of this standard when evaluating the position.

Supervisory controls over equipment operating positions are based on the fact that such positions require close to moderate levels of supervision over the work. The work and the review of the work or product is highly structured. Normally, the supervisor or work leader assigns work, makes occasional observations of its progress and quality while it is in process, and reviews the final product on either a spot-check or completed basis. Normally, the supervisor is readily available to provide instructions, assistance, and advice on operating problems or deviations which are not covered by guidelines. The nature of some of the work is such that it may not be necessary for the supervisor to oversee the equipment operation at all times. Even where the equipment operator is physically remote from the supervisor, essentially the same degree of control is exercised through the provision of standard operating procedures, equipment manufacturers' operating manuals, and other instructions contained in the guidelines, and the relative absence of opportunity for the operator to exercise judgment as to what work is to be done, the manner of its performance, or its acceptability. However, there may be a few instances where the supervisory controls over a position is administrative in nature and does not provide technical supervision or assistance. Such positions appear to exceed the level of supervisory controls identified in this standard and should be evaluated according to the Primary Standard.

Copier/Duplicating Equipment Operator, GS-0350-01


  • Operates photocopy equipment and makes minor adjustments, as necessary, i.e., length of copy (legal or standard size).
  • Assembles and staples copied materials.
  • Distributes completed photocopy work as directed.
  • Cleans and maintains equipment operated.
Copier/Duplicating Equipment Operator, GS-0350-02


  • Sets up, operates, and monitors the operation of a xerographic copier/duplicator to reduce and copy computer-generated data on standard hardcopy size paper.
  • Operates a decollator to separate copies of computer paper and remove carbons prior to copying. Operates a paper joggler and a simple hot adhesive binder to prepare completed work for distribution.
  • Prepares form overlays for use on the copier/duplicating equipment and maintains a form overlay file.
  • Maintains a daily chart of the machines' output and down time.
  • Performs daily equipment maintenance, maintains material supplies, and reports equipment operating problems to supervisor.
  • Sets up, operates, and monitors an electrostatic copier/ duplicator machine to copy single and multiple page documents.
  • Maintains production control and supply usage records as required.
Copier/Duplicating Equipment Operator, GS-0350-03


  • Operates a diazo machine to reproduce copies of engineering drawings and visual aid materials.
  • Sets up the machine for operation by adjusting the pressure and flow of ammonia gas, exposure controls, machine drive speed, and automatic paper feed controls.
  • Sets up, operates, adjusts, and monitors a high-speed electrostatic copier/duplicator to produce and collate single and multiple page copies from originals. The equipment is capable of producing several thousand copies per hour.
  • Maintains inventory of equipment supplies and daily production records.
  • Performs operator maintenance on equipment operated.
Duplicating Equipment Operator, GS-0350-04


  • Sets up, operates, and adjusts an automatically controlled duplicator (maximum sheet size not larger than 11 x 17 inches) which operates in conjunction with an on-line electrostatic image (paper) maker and an on-line sorter to reproduce readable copy of single or multiple page documents in short runs.
  • Diagnoses equipment malfunctions, operating problems, and performs corrective adjustments as necessary.
  • Operates copier/duplicator equipment on an "as-time-permits" basis. Normally directs users to appropriate copier based on number of copies required and instructs user how to properly operate the copy machine.
  • Reviews work requests for duplication accordance with guidelines to determine if the work can be performed in the copy center.
  • Maintains accurate production records for equipment operated.
  • Performs operator maintenance such as daily clean up, lubrication, changing blankets and wicks, checking and replenishing levels of ink, developer, etc.
Mail Processing Equipment Operator, GS-0350-03


  • Sets up, adjusts, operates, and monitors the operation of envelope inserting, bursting, folding, and automatic labeling machines to prepare a variety of material for release to the Postal Service.
  • Performs minor repairs and routine maintenance.
  • Maintains production records and reports of items processed.
Mail Processing Equipment Operator, GS-0350-04


  • Sets up, operates, and adjusts at various times essentially all of the following equipment to mail out packages, notices, letters, etc., as well as to receive and open mail: automatic addressing and labeling equipment, bursting machines, a parallel folding machine, a small paper cutter, envelope inserting equipment, automatic mail-sorting and related equipment.
  • Monitors the equipment during operation to prevent and clear jams when they occur.
  • Diagnoses machine malfunctions and performs corrective adjustments as required.
  • Insures that the proper documents are being processed according to individual job orders and that completed work is separated and correctly routed.
  • Cleans, oils, and performs minor repairs.
Microform Equipment Operator, GS-0350-01


  • Sets up and operates an automatically controlled rotary camera and accessory equipment for the purpose of microfilming documents.
  • Loads film into camera and removes film following exposure.
  • Reports errors in sequence of material to be microfilmed to supervisor.
Microform Equipment Operator, GS-0350-02


  • Sets up and operates a 16mm rotary microfilm camera to microfilm a variety of documents.
  • Prepares reel targets and arranges material for microfilming.
  • Prepares camera operators report and certificate.
  • Operates a microfilm reader to review the quality of the processed microfilm and notes any quality defects on the camera operator's report for the subsequent purpose of making retakes.
Microform Equipment Operator, GS-0350-03


  • Sets up and operates a rotary and planetary camera, a photographic wet processor, and other related equipment to microfilm documents and process exposed film.
  • Adjusts an electronic densitometer to read and plot densities of the control strips.
  • Performs quality control tests to ensure processed microfilm meets agency microfilm quality standards.
  • Maintains production and supply consumption records.
  • Performs operator maintenance on equipment.
  • Sets up and operates a roll-to-roll diazo duplicating machine to produce copies of original microfilm.
  • Grades, matches, and assembles original microfilm to be copied into 1,000 foot units for processing according to equal density levels.
  • Loads original negative and an equal supply of diazo-type duplicating film into the machine.
  • Adjusts the processing speed of the machine to compensate for variations of density in the 1,000 foot units of the original microfilm to maintain an acceptable level of quality.
Microform Equipment Operator, GS-0350-04


  • Sets up and operates a computer output microfilmer (COM) unit with formatting capabilities, a conventional film processor, a microfiche viewer and reader, a roll-to-roll duplicator, a microfiche cutter, a densitometer, and other related equipment to produce microfilm from computer generated data for organizations with the agency as well as organizations outside of the agency.
  • Performs various quality control checks, tests, and adjustments to insure an acceptable level of quality in the processed microfilm, e.g., visually inspects film for photographic defects, reads process control strips on a densitometer and records densities and base fog, reads resolution test targets with microscope.
  • Maintains required production and control records.
  • Performs operator maintenance on equipment.
Peripheral Equipment Operator, GS-0350-01


  • Learns to set up, operate, and monitor the operation of a variety of peripheral equipment devices such as tape and disk drives, card to paper tape punch, and a card reader/punch through instruction received on the job.
  • Learns the various techniques used in mounting and dismounting tape and disk packs, labeling card and/or tape input/ output.
  • Learns the procedures for checking error situations on equipment operated and how to implement the corrective procedures and maintain equipment operation logs.
Peripheral Equipment Operator, GS-0350-02


  • Sets up, adjusts, and operates high speed printers, tape and disk drive units, card readers/punches, and graphic plotters.
  • Checks tape and/or disk pack labels prior to mounting or dismounting on designated drive units and checks cards, tapes, and disks for obvious defects that could cause processing problems.
  • Mounts and dismounts tapes and disk packs.
  • Loads and unloads various types of form paper in the high-speed printer.
  • Cleans tape contact point in tape drive units.
Peripheral Equipment Operator, GS-0350-03


  • Sets up, operates, adjusts, and monitors a variety of peripheral equipment, including tape reel units, auto-load tape units, tape-to-card converters, high-speed printers, a xerographic printer, and card-to-tape converters.
  • Mounts and dismounts tapes, loads and unloads cards, and monitors panel lights during machine operations to detect simple error situations such as a card or paper jam.
  • Visually checks tapes and cards for obvious defects which would cause an error situation such as a faulty punch card, creased magnetic tape, etc.
  • Removes faulty material and notifies supervisor or computer operator.
  • Cleans tape contact points on tape drive units.
  • Learns to operate a computer-output microfilm (COM) unit on an "as-time-permits" basis. Data input tapes are preformatted.
Peripheral Equipment Operator, GS-0350-04


  • Sets up and operates a variety of peripheral computer equipment such as auto-load tape units, high-speed impact printers, tape-to-card and card-to-tape converters.
  • Sets up and operates a computer output microfilmer (COM). The film is processed commercially.
  • Maintains required equipment operating records.
  • Removes faulty materials from machines which have caused malfunctions and corrects error situations not involving programming faults.
  • Observes input and output material for creases, tears, printing defects, or other similar conditions.
  • Monitors the equipment panel lights to detect machine malfunctions and error situations.
  • Replaces ribbons in high-speed impact printers, replenishes film supply in COM unit, and performs minor cleaning functions such as cleaning tape contact points, etc.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Programs in General Office Clerk Training are designed for the individuals who wish to learn the basic clerical skills needed for employment in the various office settings. The programs will prepare students to perform such duties as duplicating data, compiling records and reports, tabulating and posting data in record books, sorting and filing correspondence and records, handling mail, and operating office machines.

Courses vary from school to school but may include:

Business Communications

Introduction to Data Processing

Business Record Keeping

Office Procedures

Clerical Accounting

Rules of Filing

Duplicating Equipment


Office Machines

Word Processing

Job Outlook

Nationally, there were 229,200 Duplicating, Peripheral Computer Equitpment and Other Office Machine Operators employed in 2006. Employment in this occupation is expected to decline through the year 2018. Office Machine Operators work for manufacturing firms, insurance firms, banks, printing shops, duplicating service centers, educational institutions, and government agencies.

The employment of Mail, Duplicating, and Other Office Machine Operators is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations in Government through the year2018. Openings will occur as workers change jobs or occupations.

Duplication needs will also increase, because of the increased volume of paper communication. However, technological developments such as micrographic and new types of machines, including high speed copiers, are competing successfully with duplicating machines. Therefore, overall, fewer operators will be needed to perform duplicating services.


Earnings of Duplicating Machine Operators may vary according to the equipment operated; the amount of work produced; and the size, type, and geographic location of the employer.

Nationally, the median annual salary of Duplicating Machine Operators was $23,200 in 2008. Operators working for the federal government had beginning salaries of $25,023, $26,392, or $28,401 in 2009 depending on previous experience. The salaries of these federal government workers may be higher in some urban areas.

The annual salary ranges for clerical employees, a group which includes Offset Duplicating Machine Operators, employed by various city governments in 1999 were:

Depending on the employer, most Duplicating Machine Operators receive paid vacations and holidays; life, accident, disability, and hospitalization insurance; retirement plans; and sick leave. These benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by the employer. Some also receive dental care plans, full or partial reimbursement for educational expenses, and savings and stock investment plans.

Duplicating Machine Operators may advance to print shop chief clerk or duplicating department supervisor.


Printed Occupational information is available upon written request from the sources below.

Graphic Communications Council
1899 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 20191

National Business
Education Association
1914 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191

Information on obtaining Equiptment Operator positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or (703) 724–1850 or TDD (978) 461–8404 and (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.


  • Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Standards.

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