What Is a Production Line Worker?
Production line workers, also known as team assemblers, construct everything from airplane parts to medical equipment, usually in a factory environment. Rather than assemblers consistently working on one task, tasks may be rotated, and employees may provide input on how to improve the line production process.
Professional line workers may have to stand for long periods of time during assembly, though most physically demanding work has been automated. Some of these professionals are exposed to potentially harmful materials in the course of a work day. While employment opportunities for assemblers and fabricators were predicted to grow slowly over the 2012-2022 decade due to automation, these jobs are still available in many manufacturing plants throughout the country with minimal education requirements.
|Degree Level||No degree required; associate's may help with professional advancement|
|Certification||Certification may be preferred or required in some industries; voluntary certification is available|
|Experience||Entry-level; on-the-job training is common|
|Key Skills||Physical strength, color vision, dexterity, stamina, knowledge of industry tools; some positions may require the ability to use data entry and computer-aided design (CAD) software|
|Salary||$32,250 (2015 median)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015), O*Net Online
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Become a Production Line Worker
Step 1: Learn About Production Line Jobs
Technological changes and business management theories have impacted production and manufacturing jobs. Most factories no longer use the old assembly system, which had workers repeatedly performing the same task on a long line of identical products that passed their workstations on a conveyor belt.
Although that kind of production line job may still exist, most U.S. manufacturers have adopted a production model where teams of workers assemble products or components. Workers are trained to perform several tasks associated with a product or component, and they may complete one or more of these duties each day. In this system, the team often decides how the work will be distributed and when the workers' roles will change.
Develop Related Skills
Most production line jobs require workers to perform mathematical calculations, and these skills may be learned in mathematics and industrial arts classes. The emphasis on teamwork in production means workers should also have strong communication skills and the ability to work well with others.
Become Familiar with Computers
Since many factories and plants rely on computer-aided manufacturing systems, those applicants with strong computer skills may have an advantage in gaining employment.
Step 2: Attain Basic Job Training
Production line workers are generally trained on the job or through employer-sponsored training programs. These workers may be paired with a more experienced employee or train with other new employees in a group to learn how to safely operate equipment and perform assigned job duties.
Some industries, such as medical device and aircraft manufacturers, require prospective employees to attend pre-employment training programs at community colleges and technical schools. Acceptance to these training programs often requires prospective students to pass an aptitude test with a specific score.
In these pre-employment training programs, students learn industry-specific regulations and best practices, such as how to construct and work within an aseptic environment to ensure the production of sterile medical equipment. Training may include the study of measurement techniques and equipment operation as well as hands-on experience in the field. Completing these training programs may not guarantee employment within the industry, however.
Consider Earning an Associate's Degree
Workers who have obtained an associate's degree typically fill the most skilled assembly jobs. Related programs, such as the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Machining and Product Development or AAS in Manufacturing Technology, are available.
Step 3: Earn Certification
Certification can help workers demonstrate competency or advance in their position; however, certification may be required in some industries. For example, the defense and aerospace industries may require that workers have certification in soldering.
Some production careers, such as electrical or automotive assembly, require certification or an associate's degree due to the level of complexity in an employee's tasks. The IPC, a trade association for electronics workers, provides certification for those who want to become licensed trainers in soldering, thereby allowing them to increase their skills while training others. Federal regulations, particularly in airplane manufacturing, may also require prospective employees to earn certification or complete other formal training before obtaining employment.
Research Industry Certification Requirements
Prospective assembly workers should research the industry for training and certification requirements or additional career opportunities.
Hopeful production line workers should learn about production line jobs, attain basic training, and earn certification in order to work in this field.