Whether you’re starting from scratch or already own an embroidery business, hiring your first operator raises a few questions:
What should I pay my embroidery machine operator?
What are the duties and qualifications I need to hire for?
Should I hire someone new or someone with experience?
Typically, embroidery business owners hire operators to reduce the time they spend on the production process and focus on growing their businesses. However, hiring the wrong employee can be a major setback. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hiring the right employee for your business needs.
- The duties, qualifications and pay rate of an entry-level operator, a mid-level operatorand a senior-level operator
- The pros and cons of hiring each position
- The right questions to ask depending on the position you’re hiring for
- And where to post your embroidery operator job listing
Let’s dive on in!
Average pay rate: $11-$14/hour*
If you’re relatively new to the embroidery business, you might be interested in hiring an entry-level operator. Entry-level operators are best for…
- New or established business owners without an operator. If this is your case, you need to be willing to train the operator either yourself, through the company you purchased the machine from or through a third party.
- Shops with one or more experienced operators. If this is your case, you can have the operator(s) on staff train the new operator.
Regardless of your situation, training a new operator is an additional cost either through the time it takes you or your staff to train them or through the additional training you need to pay for to train the operator.
Tip: Many embroidery machine companies offer training on machine operation, but some allow more than one person to attend machine training at no additional cost. If you’re just starting out and are already planning to hire an operator, we recommend hiring an operator as soon as you purchase your machine, so they can go through the training with you. This eliminates the time and additional costs it’ll take to train someone a few months down the line. If you’re worried you don’t have the funds to hire someone full-time right off the bat, start them off part-time or per diem.
If you’re thinking of hiring an entry-level embroidery machine operator, check out the pros and cons for hiring this position.
Tips for interviewing an entry-level embroidery machine operator:
- With beginners, there is no way to vet for experience, so hire for attitude.
- Ask what interests them in embroidery and what they imagine their role in your company becoming. Opening the door to future opportunities makes them more receptive to wanting to learn the industry in and out.
Average salary: $13-$15/hour *
If you’re able to spend a little more on an experienced employee, hiring a mid-level operator is a great place to start if you need to focus on other aspects of your business and don’t have the time to train someone from scratch. Mid-level operators are best for…
- Business owners with little to no embroidery experience who want an experienced operator on staff. If this is your case, you may want to hire a mid-level operator to offer expertise and guidance and help reduce the machine embroidery learning curve.
- Small embroidery business owners with intermediate or advanced embroidery experience. If this is your case, you probably already know the industry but want to start off with someone who can crank out orders right away and quickly take your place in the production process.
If you’re thinking of hiring a mid-level embroidery machine operator, check out the pros and cons for hiring this position.
Tips for interviewing a mid-level embroidery machine operator:
- Must-ask question: Do you have experience with short-runs or long-runs? In embroidery, operators with experience doing long runs are more comfortable with the machine and are able to troubleshoot simple production issues more easily.
- Conduct an examination of their technique. Ask them to hoop and run a quick job. Focus on hooping technique, as this is the most important part of machine embroidery.
Average salary: $15-$17/hour *
If your business is growing and can afford to take on the cost of an embroidery production manager or supervisor, it might be time to invest in a highly experienced employee that can help you take your business to the next level. Embroidery production managers or supervisors are best for…
- Startup embroidery businesses that want a “right-hand-man” as their first operator. If you’re the type of person who likes to invest in the very best for their business, hiring an experienced operator to manage all of the orders and production processes can help take stress off of you as the business owner. Over time, you can hire entry-level staff for a lower rate, as your senior operator trains them.
- Growing embroidery businesses with one or more operators. If you already have one or more operators who aren’t ready for management, it might be a good idea to hire an experienced operator to manage your team and help streamline your production.
If you’re thinking of hiring an embroidery production manager or supervisor, check out the pros and cons for hiring this position.
Tips for interviewing a senior-level embroidery machine operator:
- Ask about managing experience. It’s important to ask about how they keep track of all their files, information and production data.
- Give a scenario a manager would run into, and ask how they would solve it. For example: “What would you do if you had an order with a tight deadline and are short handed for the day?” A good production manager would prioritize that order while revisiting other deadlines to make sure that everything else still stays on track. A good production manager understands they are accountable and should be willing to get the job done by all means, even if it means going a bit over business hours.
Where to post your embroidery operator job listing
Because it’s such a niche field, embroiderers often worry about where they can find a machine operator in their area. However, there are several platforms where you can post embroidery job listings. Read on to discover four online places you can post embroidery job listings.
- Job sites: You can post your job listing on job sites such as Indeed and Career Builder. These hiring sites have plenty of listings for embroidery machine operators, and are a good place to start finding the ideal candidate. They’re also a good place to do some research on what the job entails and how much others in your area are paying for similar positions. Posting on Indeed is free if you want to appear on general search results. If you want your posting to appear first, Indeed uses a pay-per-click model that will charge you a certain amount per person who clicks on your posting.
- Forums: Forums such as T-shirt Forums can be a great place to find specialized industry information and post embroidery operator job listings. You can also try creating a post asking for embroidery operator recommendations and/or advice on hiring an embroidery operator. A lot of embroiderers like to use industry forums to guarantee they’re getting trustworthy information from industry professionals.
- Facebook groups: Facebook groups are a great place to network with embroidery enthusiasts, crafters and operators. Not only can you learn from others and ask questions when you need help, you can also ask for operator recommendations on Facebook groups. Usually, by being active in a group, you will make friends and mentors in the business that are more than willing to share their tips with you. The best part about the embroidery industry is that people don’t see you as a competitor because there’s so much demand and such a diverse range of services and needs to be offered and met.
- Craigslist: Craigslist can be used to buy and sell products and or services, but it can also be used to post jobs. While it is not a popular site for all job types, it’s quite common to post contract job and jobs that require special trade knowledge on Craigslist. The site offers categories such as “manufacturing jobs” that will help narrow your job listing. Like other job sites, you can see what other business owners are posting and offering on Craigslist. While many postings on Craigslist are free, the cost of job postings vary depending on your area. On average, Craigslist charges $25 for a job posting. However, it can range from $15 to $75 depending on your area.
Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of hiring an embroidery operator for each experience level, you know what the main qualifications and duties are, and you know where to post your job listings, you’ll have the guidance you need to take control of your time and business. If you have any other questions about hiring an embroidery machine operator, leave a comment below.