Production workers make many of the products you use on a daily basis. They generally work in a manufacturing environment, assembling everything from computer circuit boards to airplanes to toys. Many production workers specialize in different types of manufacturing environments, using different equipment, skills and tools. They work quickly to finish products, meeting production and financial goals for an organization.
Generally, employers require a high school diploma or GED. Employers often assess candidates’ skills such as manual dexterity, speed, math or mechanical abilities. Production workers are trained on the job to complete production tasks. Skilled production jobs, such as those in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, may require postsecondary education from a technical school.
Production workers start their job by reading blue prints and schematics to understand their role in the production line. They use their hands and a variety of tools to assemble parts and products. Production workers may work on one specific part or assemble the entire product. Throughout the assembly process, production workers look for faulty pieces and parts to ensure the quality of the products they assemble.
The largest majority of production workers spend their day in a manufacturing plant. They may stand for long periods of time to assemble large parts and pieces. Those who assemble small parts and pieces often sit for long periods of time. While some wear casual clothing to do their job, other production workers may be required to wear goggles, gloves and other equipment to protect themselves. Those who work in pharmaceutical manufacturing work in a clean room environment and follow strict policies before entering and exiting the clean room.
Salaries vary greatly for production workers, depending on the types of products, parts and pieces they assemble. In May 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated median annual wages ranging from $27,040 to $44,820 for assemblers and fabricators. The average salary for all production workers was $30,330 per year, according to the BLS. Only 4 percent growth is expected through 2020 for production occupations, because many production environments now use technology to automate the manufacturing process, requiring fewer employees.