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5 Axis Waterjet Operator Pay...


Sep 14, 2012
United States
Just curious what the average pay is across the United States for a 5 axis waterjet button pusher. And how much more for a 5 axis programmer/ operator.

I've asked around locally, but very few shops locally actually have one, and one shop lost their programmer to a surrounding shop and now only uses it as a basic waterjet. So they aren't even using it as intended. And their pay scale is on the lower end IMHO...

I've got responses like, " For a button pusher, they get paid the same, no matter how many axis the machine has..." To, " $20 for a decent operator, $25 for a good operator and $30 for a great operator."

Indeed lists $40k-$60k waterjet salary, but doesn't specify 2.5 axis, 3 axis etc... But $60k for 5 axis seems possibly accurate but just unsure... looking for some additional unbiased input.

Corporate basically decided that it was time to upgrade some of our machinery/equipment and capabilities.

Trying to figure out what these challenges are going to be and how to justify and offset the insuing operating costs in my department. As in I don't currently get to bid on jobs, so I can't provide additional income, my only means is to hire the right people ( at a fair wage ) and train accordingly and produce high quality products in a timely fashion.

We are not a job shop, and I make money for the company by getting the most out of each employee and each piece of metal. And by optimization of each program and maintaining a version of Lean Manufacturing.
( I say version, because my department is the only one who is currently using it and also a diet version of 5S, 3S Sort Sweep Sustain )

Thanks for your help / input / ideas and suggestions...


May 11, 2017
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Not having run waterjet, but having dabbled in WEDM, I'd guess that for a simple button pusher it shouldn't make much difference. The programmer, or combo programmer/operator, is a different story.

Those numbers you mentioned seem about right, for several years ago. Bear in mind we're at 15% yearly inflation right now, if you calculate by the 1980 standard. For the employee to have the same purchasing power as a decade ago, they should be making at least twice as much.


Jan 21, 2019
Programming Into a dstv is not hard- your jet likely has that, if not it will be relatively cheap option. This is different than programming in a cam package. Just a geometry and the machine decides movement.
20 is high side for cutting out machine operator (maintaince and makes machine dance) 16 is standard 17 is decent 18 is high side here for button pusher/basic programming.