With an average annual salary of $34,970, assemblers enjoy stable positions that set them up for future growth. Assemblers can also acquire certifications and experience to begin to specialize in one type of manufacturing—and earn a higher salary along the way. Interested in learning more about how to become an assembly worker? Let’s take a look.
What does an assembler do?
Assembly line workers are responsible for putting together the various parts of a particular product. Assemblers can work in a range of industries including aerospace, automotive, construction, mining, and more. They may attach or install parts of airplanes or missiles; build motors, turbines, and machines; construct boat decks and hulls; put together computers or other electrical equipment; or assemble many other products.
An assembler may put just one component of a larger product together, or they might put the entire product together from start to finish. If an assembly line worker is responsible for just one component, they work as part of a team. Most teams do not assign one assembler to always put together the same component. They typically rotate through, with each team member assembling a different component of the final product to avoid fatigue and build familiarity with the product as a whole.
Each day, an assembler will read through schematics or blueprints for the product or part they’re building. They then verify the specifications and check the measurements for the various parts that are being put together. They prepare and position the parts for assembly, ensuring that the parts align correctly. Once the parts are aligned, an assembly line worker will fasten the components together and confirm that they’re attached correctly. For instance, this process is used when an assembly worker aligns and attaches parts of an airplane wing. Throughout this process, assembly line workers also check for faulty parts so that the quality of the final product isn’t compromised.
As with any position in a factory setting, safety is of the utmost importance. When they’re not actively assembling products, assembly line workers maintain and service their equipment, troubleshoot equipment malfunctions, and adhere to all safety guidelines as outlined by their employer and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They keep in regular contact with other assemblers to coordinate assembly of the final product in a timely manner.
Depending on their skill and experience level, some assemblers may also assist with product development. An assembler with deep product familiarity may work alongside the engineering and design team to create a new product model, test prototypes, and more.
What types of equipment do assembly line workers use?
Depending on what they’re constructing, assembly workers use a variety of equipment. Some assemblers use hand tools or power tools to screw parts together. Others may need to use welding equipment, rivet guns, or soldering irons to attach pieces to each other. Assemblers may also need to check measurements and use mechanical instruments, rulers, and calibration equipment during assembly.
What is the typical schedule for an assembler?
In general, assembly line workers work first (morning), second (afternoon and evening), or third (overnight) shifts. They usually work 40 hours a week and are full-time employees, though some assemblers may work more than 40 hours a week and be paid overtime. The actual schedule, shifts, and number of hours worked depends on where the assembler works and who employs them.
The manufacturing and production facilities where assemblers work are open outside of “regular” business hours. They may open early in the morning, stay open late at night, or even run for 24 hours a day. And if the factory is open, it will need assembly line workers to put products together and get them ready to ship to meet orders on time. Assemblers can expect to work an overnight shift on a somewhat regular basis, unless they are assigned to third shift.
What kind of environment do assemblers work in?
Assemblers are usually factory workers but also work in manufacturing and production facilities. Depending on what the assembly line worker is creating, they may be seated, standing, or need to use a ladder.
In addition, an assembler may be working in an environment that’s more hazardous than work environments for other jobs, though this depends on what they’re putting together. Work areas may be noisy, and assembly line workers may be exposed to oil, grease, fire, fiberglass, or chemicals throughout their day. To ensure their safety, assemblers generally wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, ear plugs, long sleeves, steel-toe boots, and/or respirators.
The work environment for an assembler is typically at about room temperature, though some assembly line workers will work outside or in factories with varying temperatures. For instance, some factories may be hotter than room temperature due to the number of machines running inside it. In these instances, assemblers may need to dress accordingly for hot or cold temperatures.
What types of skills do assembly line workers need?
Physically, assembly line workers should be able to comfortably sit or stand for long periods. They must be able to lift up to 50 lbs to maneuver heavy parts. Some assemblers will need to be able to climb ladders or bend and reach different components. Because they need to attach multiple parts, assemblers should have good hand-eye coordination. To ensure the safety of everyone at the job site, assembly line workers should be able to see clearly, with or without corrective lenses. In addition, assemblers must have color vision to correctly identify different colored wires, tabs, and components.
Assemblers should have solid math skills and the ability to read detailed instructions and understand technical manuals, blueprints, and schematics to properly assemble a product. Depending on what equipment the assembler uses, they may need some basic knowledge of how to use computer equipment, remote-control devices, or robots.
Attention to detail is also important for assemblers. Components need to be aligned precisely and connected securely to ensure product integrity. Assembly line workers should be able to closely follow instructions, inspect components for flaws, and identify when a machine or product is malfunctioning.
Finally, assembly line workers work together as a team, so they should possess good communication skills. Being able to clearly communicate with the rest of the team ensures that the job stays on-schedule and that products are ready to be shipped out when needed.
What are the educational requirements for an assembler?
There are no formal education requirements to be an assembly line worker, though some employers request that a candidate have a high-school diploma or GED. Most assemblers receive several months of on-the-job training once they are hired for a position.
However, more advanced assembly positions may require special training or education at a technical or vocational school. For example, posts for aerospace, aircraft, automotive, electrical, or electronic assembly line jobs typically ask for additional education.
Some assembly line jobs require certifications. This is especially common for assemblers working in the aerospace and defense sectors. While not required for most assembly line jobs, acquiring certifications can help make you more desirable to employers—and boost your annual salary as well. The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) and Association Connecting Electronics Industries, also known as IPC, both offer a variety of certificates and training programs to help assemblers demonstrate their skills and expertise.
What is the career outlook for assemblers?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 174,200 new openings for assemblers to open up every year through 2030. As current assembly workers retire or transition to new roles, the openings they leave will need to be filled by the next class of assemblers and fabricators.
A position as an assembler is also a great place to start a career. Though no formal experience is required to begin, you can begin to specialize—and increase your pay rate—by gaining experience in specific kinds of fabrication or by acquiring certifications that make your work more valuable to employers.
Experienced assemblers and fabricators may advance to become a supervisor or manager, or they may transition to a new role thanks to their product understanding.
What is the best way to find a job as an assembler?
Spherion has been connecting job seekers to light industrial opportunities for more than 70 years, so we know assembly line worker jobs inside and out. Wherever you’re based across the country, we can put you in contact with companies hiring for assemblers right now.