Assembly Line Technician Careers: Salary & Job Description

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Learn about an assembly line technician's job duties, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of an assembly line technician career.
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An Assembly Line Technician Career: Pros and Cons

Assembly line technician jobs have changed in recent years due to advances in technology. Consult the pros and cons below to learn more about this career.

Pros of Becoming an Assembly Line Technician
Requires only a high school diploma or equivalent*
Mostly a physical job with little to no paperwork***
Variety of employment options in different industries (electronics, automotive, household products, etc.)**
Options in work schedules (usually three shifts - 1st, 2nd and 3rd)**

Cons of Becoming an Assembly Line Technician
Potential for injury (exposure to hazardous materials, noisy work areas, etc.)*
Work environments can be extremely hot**
Job usually involves long periods of standing or sitting*
Low job growth projections for 2012-2022 (four percent projected growth)*

Sources: *U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Monster.com, ***State of California Employment Development Department.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Assembly line technicians usually work in warehouse environments with different machines and tools. An assembly line usually has multiple workers who each have a specific job to do in the process of putting together a product. Job duties may include measuring, cutting, securing and checking product pieces. You may also work with finished products and perform tasks such as packaging and quality checking. Assembly line technicians can work with all types of products, from engines and electronics to furniture and toys.

Working conditions can be less than ideal; working in extreme heat may be common. You may encounter other hazards, such as exposure to chemicals or other hazardous materials, possible injuries from misuse of equipment or other dangers, depending on the product being produced. You may also face exposure to loud noise, dust and other debris. Most companies operate three shifts, around the clock. Some may work weekends. Typically, a 40-hour work week is the standard, but overtime may occur. There may also be periods when workers are laid off due to low production.

Job Growth and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a four percent job growth for assemblers and fabricators from 2012-2022. This is a slower-than-average growth, largely attributed to the increase use of new technology and a decrease in product demand. Despite the overall low growth projection, some sectors may see better job opportunities. Aircraft products and products that are assembled using complicated techniques may see better growth than other sectors.

The BLS reported a $28,730 mean annual wage in May 2014. The 10th-90th percentile pay range was $17,940-$43,250. The top paying industry was petroleum and coal products manufacturing with a mean annual wage of $98,000.

What Are the Requirements?

Most employers require only a high school diploma or equivalent for assembly line technicians. Training is usually offered on the job to teach you to use the equipment and tools. This is an entry-level job that individuals can qualify for right after graduating high school. More than experience and education, employers look for specific skills. Assembly line technicians usually need to be able to read diagrams and understand written instructions, be fluent in English, have manual dexterity and good eyesight. Other skills and qualities that employers may look for include:

  • Color vision
  • Math skills
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Physical stamina
  • Technical aptitude

Job Postings from Real Employers

In addition to physical qualities, like stamina, employers may prefer candidates that have experience in the field. To learn more about what employers look for, read the following job posts from real employers in April 2012.

  • A Virginia defense, space and security company was seeking someone with a high school diploma, seven years of experience in the industry and government security clearance.
  • A manufacturer in Texas was looking for workers who can stand for long periods of time, work well in a team environment and pass a background check and drug test.
  • A California manufacturing company was hiring full-time workers with some experience in manufacturing and assembly line work.
  • A North Dakota manufacturer was hiring individuals with excellent English skills, computer abilities and the ability to meet physical demands, such as lifting, climbing and reaching.

How to Maximize Your Skills

According to the BLS, technical training can increase your hiring potential as employers may start to look for candidates with more training beyond high school as positions get more technical in nature. Completing an associate's degree program in manufacturing may help you gain additional skills and knowledge that could be attractive to employers. In a program, you may learn about computer, manufacturing processes and technology. Courses may cover blue print reading, computer literacy, industrial safety, quality control and machine operations.

Other Careers to Consider

The low wages and minimal job growth may deter you from entering a career as an assembly line technician. As an alternative, you may look into professions, such as an industrial machinery mechanic or millwright.

Industrial Machinery Mechanic

An industrial machinery mechanic works on equipment in an industrial setting to ensure it works properly. Duties may include performing routine maintenance or making repairs. No formal training is required for this job. The BLS projected a 19% job growth from 2010-2020 and reported in May 2011 that the mean annual wage was $48,000.

Millwright

If heavy-duty machine work is more your style, then consider a job as a millwright. Millwrights usually work on construction sites or in factories or power plants assembling, installing and dismantling machines. To work as a millwright, you will be responsible for operating mobile vehicles like cranes, forklifts and hoist to transport pieces. Completion of an apprenticeship is the typical path of entry into this field. Also, this position offers a median salary of $51,000, according to the BLS in 2011.

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