All mechanical objects are a sum of multiple parts. Automobiles, television sets and even toys are manufactured in factories where individuals build these finished products by combining a variety of different components. Parts may be assembled manually or with the use of specialized machinery, and this work is carried out by fabricators.
Prior to assembling any piece of equipment, fabricators must read and fully comprehend assembly instructions, such as blueprints and sketches. They must then go over the list of parts to be assembled, ensuring that each is accounted for. Based on specifications, fabricators assemble the equipment, taking measurements, repositioning parts and making sure each part is properly fitted and secured. In addition to assembling the equipment, fabricators identify any errors or malfunctions. When such inefficiencies are identified, fabricators make repairs and troubleshoot to the best of their ability. This may require the use of additional tools as well as ordering replacement parts and other supplies.
A high school diploma or its equivalent is typically the minimum education required to obtain employment as a fabricator. Although most fabricators learn the ropes while on the job, some companies sponsor training programs for those new to the profession. Some larger organizations, such as aircraft manufacturers and consumer product companies, require applications to possess an associate’s degree in order to be considered for employment.
Although novice fabricators acquire many of their skills by jumping into the profession, certain attributes are prerequisites in order to be successful in the role. Fabricators must possess physical strength and have a lot of stamina, as lifting heavy objects and standing for long periods of time are the norm on the job. These workers also must possess exceptional hand-eye coordination to precisely manipulate small objects. In addition, many of the objects fabricators work with are often color coded, precluding colorblind candidates from the occupation.
Fabricators seeking career development and networking opportunities may find a professional haven with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International. Founded in 1970, the organization, according to its mission, aims to bring its members “together through technology councils, educational programs” and networking events. MFA also produces FABTECH, the largest conference dedicated to the industry, and publishes various publications geared toward specific sectors within the fabricating and manufacturing industries.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of fabricators is expected to grow at a rate of only 4 percent between 2012 and 2022, a slower pace than other professions, as a result of increasing manufacturing process efficiencies that require fewer workers. The average salary paid to those in this profession in 2012 was $28,580.
2016 Salary Information for Assemblers and Fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators earned a median annual salary of $31,150 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, assemblers and fabricators earned a 25th percentile salary of $24,650, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $39,970, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,819,300 people were employed in the U.S. as assemblers and fabricators.