Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Assemblers and Fabricators

Summary

assemblers and fabricators image
Assemblers and fabricators assemble both finished products and the parts that go into them.
Quick Facts: Assemblers and Fabricators
2020 Median Pay $34,970 per year
$16.81 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 1,731,700
Job Outlook, 2020-30 -5% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2020-30 -86,000

What Assemblers and Fabricators Do

Assemblers and fabricators build finished products and the parts that go into them.

Work Environment

Most assemblers and fabricators work in manufacturing plants. Their duties may involve long periods of standing or sitting. Most work full time, including some evenings and weekends.

How to Become an Assembler or Fabricator

The education and qualifications typically needed to enter these occupations vary by industry and employer. Although a high school diploma is enough for most jobs, experience and training are needed for advanced assembly work.

Pay

The median annual wage for assemblers and fabricators was $34,970 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline 5 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 174,200 openings for assemblers and fabricators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for assemblers and fabricators.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of assemblers and fabricators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about assemblers and fabricators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Assemblers and Fabricators Do About this section

Assemblers and fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators conduct quality checks for faulty components or mistakes in the assembly process.

Assemblers and fabricators build finished products and the parts that go into them. They use handtools and machines to make vehicles, toys, electronic devices, and more.

Duties

Assemblers and fabricators typically do the following:

  • Read and understand schematics and blueprints
  • Position or align components and parts either manually or with hoists
  • Use handtools or machines to assemble parts
  • Conduct quality control checks
  • Clean and maintain work area and equipment, including tools

Assemblers and fabricators need a range of knowledge and skills. For example, assemblers putting together complex machines must be able to read detailed schematics. After determining how parts should connect, they use handtools or power tools to trim, cut, and make other adjustments to fit components together. When the parts are properly aligned, they connect them with bolts and screws, or they weld or solder pieces together.

Assemblers look for faulty components and mistakes throughout the assembly process. Such assessments help to ensure quality by allowing assemblers to fix problems before defective products are made.

Modern manufacturing systems use robots, computers, and other technologies. These systems use teams of workers to produce entire products or components.

Assemblers and fabricators may also be involved in product development. Designers and engineers may consult manufacturing workers during the design stage to improve product reliability and manufacturing efficiency. Some experienced assemblers work with designers and engineers to build prototypes or test products.

Although most assemblers and fabricators are classified as team assemblers, others specialize in producing one type of product or in doing the same or similar tasks throughout the manufacturing process.

The following are examples of types of assemblers and fabricators:

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers fit, fasten, and install parts of airplanes, missiles, or space vehicles. These parts include the wings, landing gear, and heating and ventilating systems.

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers roll wire curs of electrical components used in electric and electronic products, including resistors, transformers, and electric motors. Using handtools, these workers also attach and trim coils or insulation.

Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers build products such as computers, electric motors, and sensing equipment. Unlike in industries with automated systems, much of the small-scale production of electronic devices for aircraft, military systems, and medical equipment must be done by hand. These workers use devices such as soldering irons.

Electromechanical equipment assemblers make and modify mechanical devices that run on electricity, such as household appliances, computer tomography scanners, and vending machines. These workers use tools such as rulers, rivet guns, and soldering irons.

Engine and machine assemblers construct and rebuild motors, turbines, and machines used in automobiles, construction and mining equipment, and power generators.

Fiberglass laminators and fabricators overlay fiberglass onto molds, forming protective surfaces for boat decks and hulls, golf cart bodies, and other products.

Structural metal fabricators and fitters cut, align, and fit together structural metal parts and may help weld or rivet the parts together.

Team assemblers rotate through different tasks on an assembly line, rather than specializing in a single task. Team members may decide how work is assigned and tasks are completed.

Timing device assemblers, adjusters, and calibrators manufacture or modify instruments that require precise measurement of time, such as clocks, watches, and chronometers.

Work Environment About this section

Assemblers and fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators work in plants and factories.

Assemblers and fabricators held about 1.7 million jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up assemblers and fabricators was distributed as follows:

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators 1,262,800
Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers 284,800
Structural metal fabricators and fitters 70,000
Engine and other machine assemblers 43,700
Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers 37,800
Fiberglass laminators and fabricators 19,200
Coil winders, tapers, and finishers 12,400
Timing device assemblers and adjusters 1,000

The largest employers of assemblers and fabricators were as follows:

Transportation equipment manufacturing 24%
Temporary help services 11
Machinery manufacturing 10
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 9
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 8

Most assemblers and fabricators work in manufacturing plants, and working conditions vary by plant and by industry. Many physically difficult tasks, such as tightening massive bolts or moving heavy parts into position, have been automated or made easier through the use of power tools. Assembly work, however, may still involve long periods of standing, sitting, or working on ladders.

Injuries and Illnesses

Some assemblers come into contact with potentially dangerous chemicals or fumes, but ventilation systems usually minimize any harmful effects. Other assemblers come into contact with oil and grease, and their work areas may be noisy. Fiberglass laminators and fabricators are exposed to fiberglass, which may irritate the skin; these workers must wear protective gear, such as gloves and long sleeves, and must use respirators for safety.

Work Schedules

Most assemblers and fabricators work full time. Some assemblers and fabricators work in shifts, which may require evening, weekend, and night work.

How to Become an Assembler or Fabricator About this section

Assemblers and fabricators
Assemblers and fabricators usually receive training in a specialty area.

The education and qualifications typically needed to enter these occupations vary by industry and employer. Although a high school diploma is enough for most jobs, experience and training are needed for advanced assembly work.

Education

Assemblers and fabricators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation.

Training

Workers typically receive several months of on-the-job training, sometimes including employer-sponsored technical instruction.

Skilled assemblers and fabricators may need special training or an associate’s degree, depending on the employer. For example, workers in electrical, electronic, and aircraft and motor vehicle products manufacturing typically need postsecondary education. Apprenticeship programs are also available.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA) offers certificates and training programs in fabrication, coil processing, and other related topics. Although not required, these credentials demonstrate competence and professionalism and may help a candidate advance in the occupation.

In addition, many employers, especially those in the aerospace and defense industries, require electrical and electronic assembly workers to have certifications in soldering. The Association Connecting Electronics Industries, also known as IPC, offers a number of certification programs related to electronic assembly and soldering.

Advancement

Experienced assemblers and fabricators may advance to become a supervisor or manager.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Assemblers and fabricators who make electrical and electronic products must distinguish different colors, because the wires they often work with are color coded.

Dexterity. Assemblers and fabricators should have a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination, as they must grasp, manipulate, and assemble parts and components that are often very small.

Mechanical skills. Assemblers and fabricators must have a working knowledge of basic machinery to use programmable motion-control devices, computers, and robots on the factory floor.

Physical stamina. Assemblers and fabricators must be able to stand for long periods and do repetitive tasks. Some assemblers, such as those in the aerospace industry, must frequently bend or climb ladders when assembling parts.

Physical strength. Assemblers and fabricators must be able to lift heavy components or pieces of machinery.

Technical skills. Assemblers and fabricators must understand technical manuals, blueprints, and schematics for manufacturing a range of products and machines.

Pay About this section

Assemblers and Fabricators

Median annual wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations

$41,950

Production occupations

$37,440

Assemblers and fabricators

$34,970

 

The median annual wage for assemblers and fabricators was $34,970 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,230, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,030.

Median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in May 2020 were as follows:

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers $53,160
Engine and other machine assemblers 45,770
Structural metal fabricators and fitters 41,780
Coil winders, tapers, and finishers 37,970
Fiberglass laminators and fabricators 36,950
Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers 36,390
Timing device assemblers and adjusters 36,170
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators 33,550

In May 2020, the median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Transportation equipment manufacturing $40,010
Machinery manufacturing 37,340
Fabricated metal product manufacturing 35,690
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 35,450
Temporary help services 28,980

Wages vary by industry, geographic region, skill, education level, and complexity of the machinery operated.

Most assemblers and fabricators work full time, and some work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Assemblers and Fabricators

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Total, all occupations

8%

Production occupations

0%

Assemblers and fabricators

-5%

 

Overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline 5 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 174,200 openings for assemblers and fabricators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Within the manufacturing sector, employment of assemblers and fabricators will be determined largely by the growth or decline in the production of certain manufactured goods. In general, employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline because many manufacturing sectors are expected to become more efficient and able to produce more with fewer workers.

In most manufacturing industries, improved processes, tools, and, in some cases, automation will reduce job growth. Increasingly, new advances in robotics have enabled machinery to perform more complex and delicate tasks previously performed by workers. In addition, assemblers and fabricators are increasing efficiency by working alongside robots, also known as “collaborative robotics,” which may reduce the demand for some assemblers and fabricators.

Affordable robotics, along with the possibility of decreased taxes and regulations, may entice some manufacturers to bring back to the United States production that was previously sent offshore. However, because the new jobs will depend on automation technology, they may require workers to have high-level skills.

Employment projections data for assemblers and fabricators, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Assemblers and fabricators

1,731,700 1,645,700 -5 -86,000

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers

51-2011 37,800 31,700 -16 -6,000 Get data

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers

51-2021 12,400 10,900 -12 -1,500 Get data

Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers

51-2028 284,800 304,400 7 19,500 Get data

Engine and other machine assemblers

51-2031 43,700 38,500 -12 -5,100 Get data

Structural metal fabricators and fitters

51-2041 70,000 62,000 -11 -8,000 Get data

Fiberglass laminators and fabricators

51-2051 19,200 19,100 0 -100 Get data

Timing device assemblers and adjusters

51-2061 1,000 800 -18 -200 Get data

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators

51-2090 1,262,800 1,178,200 -7 -84,600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of assemblers and fabricators.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

High school diploma or equivalent $54,920
Metal and plastic machine workers Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate equipment that cuts, shapes, and forms metal and plastic materials or pieces.

See How to Become One $38,270
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join, repair, or cut metal parts and products.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,190
Sheet metal workers Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,370
Boilermakers Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

High school diploma or equivalent $65,360
Structural iron and steel workers Ironworkers

Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.

High school diploma or equivalent $53,210

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about assemblers and fabricators, including certification, training, and professional development, visit

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International

For information about careers in manufacturing, visit

Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs

For information about certifications in electronics soldering, visit:

Association Connecting Electronics Industries

CareerOneStop

For a career video on aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers, visit:

Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers

For a career video on structural metal fabricators and fitters, visit

Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters

O*NET

Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers

Assemblers and Fabricators, All Other

Coil Winders, Tapers, and Finishers

Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers

Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers

Engine and Other Machine Assemblers

Fiberglass Laminators and Fabricators

Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters

Team Assemblers

Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Assemblers and Fabricators,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/assemblers-and-fabricators.htm (visited September 18, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2020 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.