The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Operate production machines such as pug mill, jigger machine, or potter’s wheel to process clay in manufacture of ceramic, pottery and stoneware products.
Sample of reported job titles:
Clay Mixer, Glazer, Jigger Artisan, Jigger Machine Operator, Jiggerman, Kiln Worker, Potter, Pottery Manufacturer, Production Potter, Pugmill Operator
Operate gas or electric kilns to fire pottery pieces.
Mix and apply glazes to pottery pieces, using tools, such as spray guns.
Raise and shape clay into wares, such as vases and pitchers, on revolving wheels, using hands, fingers, and thumbs.
Adjust wheel speeds according to the feel of the clay as pieces enlarge and walls become thinner.
Position balls of clay in centers of potters’ wheels, and start motors or pump treadles with feet to revolve wheels.
Move pieces from wheels so that they can dry.
Prepare work for sale or exhibition, and maintain relationships with retail, pottery, art, and resource networks that can facilitate sale or exhibition of work.
Attach handles to pottery pieces.
Press thumbs into centers of revolving clay to form hollows, and press on the inside and outside of emerging clay cylinders with hands and fingers, gradually raising and shaping clay to desired forms and sizes.
Pack and ship pottery to stores or galleries for retail sale.
Smooth surfaces of finished pieces, using rubber scrapers and wet sponges.
Pull wires through bases of articles and wheels to separate finished pieces.
Design spaces to display pottery for sale.
Verify accuracy of shapes and sizes of objects, using calipers and templates.
Examine finished ware for defects and measure dimensions, using rule and thickness gauge.
Maintain supplies of tools, equipment, and materials, and order additional supplies as needed.
Operate pug mills to blend and extrude clay.
Perform test-fires of pottery to determine how to achieve specific colors and textures.
Start machine units and conveyors and observe lights and gauges on panel board to verify operational efficiency.
Operate drying chambers to dry or finish molded ceramic ware.
Adjust pressures, temperatures, and trimming tool settings as required.
Design clay forms and molds, and decorations for forms.
Operate jigger machines to form ceramic ware, such as bowls, cups, plates, and saucers.
Inventory management software — Inventory control software
Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.
Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Detailed Work Activities
Operate heating or drying equipment.
Shape clay or dough to create products.
Adjust equipment to ensure optimal performance.
Apply protective or decorative finishes to workpieces or products.
Mix ingredients to create specific finishes.
Monitor equipment operation to ensure proper functioning.
Position raw materials on processing or production equipment.
Remove products or workpieces from production equipment.
Construct distinctive physical objects for artistic, functional, or commercial purposes.
Develop professional relationships or networks.
Package objects for shipping.
Send information, materials or documentation.
Smooth surfaces of objects or equipment.
Maneuver workpieces in equipment during production.
Measure dimensions of completed products or workpieces to verify conformance to specifications.
Develop artistic or design concepts for decoration, exhibition, or commercial purposes.
Maintain inventories of materials, equipment, or products.
Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
Operate mixing equipment.
Conduct test runs of production equipment.
Set equipment controls to meet cutting specifications.
Design jewelry or decorative objects.
Teach classes in area of specialization.
Freedom to Make Decisions — 88% responded “A lot of freedom.”
Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 79% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
Structured versus Unstructured Work — 80% responded “A lot of freedom.”
Deal With External Customers — 64% responded “Extremely important.”
Face-to-Face Discussions — 60% responded “Every day.”
Exposed to Contaminants — 62% responded “Every day.”
Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 62% responded “Very important results.”
Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 48% responded “More than half the time.”
Frequency of Decision Making — 62% responded “Every day.”
Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 37% responded “Extremely important.”
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 36% responded “Extremely important.”
Electronic Mail — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 58% responded “Every day.”
Contact With Others — 50% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
Telephone — 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
Work With Work Group or Team — 26% responded “Very important.”
Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 24% responded “Very high responsibility.”
Spend Time Sitting — 57% responded “About half the time.”
Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 27% responded “High responsibility.”
Time Pressure — 45% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
- Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.
- Related Experience
- Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
- Job Training
- Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
- Job Zone Examples
- These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.
- SVP Range
- 1-2 years of preparation (6.0 to < 7.0)
Training & Credentials
- State training
- Local training
- Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov
to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.
Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:
Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Molders, Shapers, and Casters, Except Metal and Plastic.
Employment data for Molders, Shapers, and Casters, Except Metal and Plastic.
Industry data for Molders, Shapers, and Casters, Except Metal and Plastic.
- Median wages (2021)
- $18.03 hourly, $37,500 annual
- State wages
- Local wages
- Employment (2020)
- 46,300 employees
- Projected growth (2020-2030)
Much faster than average (15% or higher)
- Projected job openings (2020-2030)
- State trends
- Top industries (2020)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data
and 2020-2030 employment projections
“Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
- State job openings
- Local job openings