What does an assembler do?

Assemblers are responsible for ensuring that a final product is functional, safe to use, and meets all required specifications. You'll find assembling work in many industries, including manufacturing, electronics, and construction. assemblers have different job titles based on specific roles and responsibilities.

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Assembler roles

Assemblers' duties vary depending on the industry they work in or the type of product. Some assemblers work primarily with their hands and have little or no formal education beyond high school. Other types require more advanced knowledge, such as computer skills.

There are four main types of assemblers:

  • General assembler: Attaches parts to subassemblies to form finished products
  • Electronic assembler: Produces electronic products
  • Mechanical assembler: Attaches mechanical parts for subassemblies, such as gears, motors, or levers
  • Medical equipment assembler: Builds medical equipment from drawings or instructions

Skill level categories of assemblers

The skill level categories of assemblers range from material handler to operator. The classifications relate to the level of work required, which the assigned tasks reflect.

  • Material handler: This is the entry-level position for assembly line workers.
  • Craft person: This category of assembler usually performs specific tasks related to one area of product assembly, such as installing an air compressor unit on a truck.
  • Operator: The operator or machine tender assembles the final product from all its components. This job involves operating machines that automate some assembly processes or simply using hand tools to complete the final step in product assembly.
Woman-and-man-assembling-white-frames
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What is the average salary of an assembler?

According to the Occupational Employment and Wages report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), assemblers and fabricators make an average of $34,970 a year. The average hourly rate is $16.81. However, salaries vary depending on a variety of factors, which include experience, location, industry, and education level.

Experience

The more years of experience, the greater your chances of earning a higher salary. With more exposure comes a greater understanding of the assembly process, which often leads to a higher-quality product and a faster production speed. In addition, experienced assemblers take on greater responsibilities like supervising peers.

Industry pay differences

The BLS notes that assemblers working in factories earn slightly less than those who work in environments such as automobile repair shops and manufacturing plants. The hourly wage of an assembler working in the automotive sector is $24.51, and the annual salary is $50,990. This is higher than the average pay for assemblers working in other manufacturing industries.

Location pay differences

Location is another critical factor in the earning potential of an assembler. Many assembly jobs are in large cities, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, where there is a high demand for consumer goods. Some cities also offer higher pay to attract workers to specific industries. For example, assemblers working in the electronics industry may earn more money in San Jose than those working for a furniture manufacturer in New Orleans.

Education level

Many companies require assemblers to be high school graduates or hold a General Education Development (GED) certificate. A post-secondary diploma or associate degree is also helpful for obtaining an advanced assembly position.

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Working as an assembler

If you're highly skilled with your hands and tools, you'll excel as an assembler. It's also helpful to have a thorough understanding of the products you work with and the equipment you use to assemble them.

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 are the responsibilities of an assembler?

Aassemblers have different roles and responsibilities, which include:

  • Assembling products: Expect to put together products that move down a production line. You make sure that the product comes together correctly by following the directions in a work order.
  • Quality checks: Some manufacturers need to test their products before shipping them out to customers. When testing, you must check the product and make sure it works properly. If you find problems, you'll be responsible for repairing and/or reporting the issue to managers.
  • Post-production preparation: Once a product is ready, some assemblers prepare it for shipment or storage. This involves packaging the product for shipping, marking it for storage, or moving it down the line for further processing.

Other duties

It's likely that your employer will assign you other tasks to do besides simply assembling products and testing them. These include:

  • Cleaning up your workspace
  • Maintaining equipment
  • Record keeping
  • Interpreting technical documents such as blueprints and diagrams

What type of equipment do assemblers use?

As an assembler, you use a variety of tools in your job. These include:

  • Hand tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches
  • Power tools like saws and drills
  • Electronic testing equipment such as multimeters
  • Chemicals and solvents like cleaners and lubricants

You need to lift heavy objects as part of the job. Product assemblers who work with hazardous materials such as chemicals must follow safety precautions and wear protective gear to prevent injury or illness. Production companies also train their employees on safety during their orientation programs.

Working environment of an assembler

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.

Who are your colleagues as an assembler?

Your colleagues will be other team members from your company or organization. You will also interact with individuals from other companies. These interactions will occur at meetings of trade associations or at conferences on topics related to your job. Some of the people you will work closely with are:

  • Engineers: You'll work with engineers who are tasked with building prototypes and solving problems on the production line. These professionals also develop blueprints that assemblers use to create and assemble a product.
  • Quality-control specialists: Your knowledge of product assembly will help quality-control specialists identify potential problems and suggest improvements.
  • Maintenance technicians: Maintenance technicians will depend on you to help them diagnose problems with equipment and make repairs.
  • Welders and brazers: These professionals are responsible for creating and joining metal parts.

What is the work schedule of 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.  

Some assemblers and fabricators work split shifts, including evenings or weekends. assemblers and fabricators who work for contract manufacturing companies sometimes travel to client sites to provide their services.

 

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What is the career outlook as an assembler?

Almost every industry needs assemblers and fabricators, from factories that make electronic products to companies that build cars. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 174,200 new openings for assemblers to open up every year through 2030. The BLS projected that jobs for assemblers and fabricators would grow by about 7% from 2016 to 2026. 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. 

Make use of training opportunities

Many community colleges and vocational schools offer one-year certificate programs in production technology, machine tool technology, industrial maintenance, and manufacturing processes. These programs teach students how to run various machines used in manufacturing.

Although assemblers typically receive on-the-job training, some employers prefer applicants who have completed post-secondary education in manufacturing. Take advantage of these training sessions, as assemblers are always needed.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as an assembler?

If you are actively looking for a job or just checking what's out there, Spherion is the answer. We will help you with your search for employment by matching you with an assembler job that fits your skills. Other advantages include:

  • Weekly pay
  • Work training opportunities
  • Flexibility in your working schedule
  • An on-call person to assist you anytime you need help with your job search
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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. 

Other standard requirements include:

  • Proficiency in reading and math for reading diagrams, drawings, and shop orders
  • English language skills for reading, writing, speaking
  • Basic knowledge of electronic components and hand tools
  • Basic computer skills

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.

Other skills requirements for an assembler

You'll succeed as an assembler if you develop the following skills:

  • Superb manual dexterity: As an assembler, you use very precise hand movements to handle delicate electrical parts without damaging them.
  • Good communication skills: This position involves daily communication with others, especially co-workers, to complete daily tasks.
  • Attention to detail: Use your attention to detail to help to spot mistakes and flaws in products before they ship. You also need to be able to see fine details when assembling small parts.
  • Physical strength and stamina: During certain assembly tasks, you'll exercise your physical strength and stamina.
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FAQs

It’s no secret that manufacturing is in demand, and assemblers are an integral part of any production facility. Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming an assembler.

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