Assembly Operator Job Description
Assembly operators put products and product components together using their hands, machinery, and various tools. Assembly operators make anything that is produced via assembly line, from children’s toys to aircraft engines. People with this career work day, evening, and nighttime shifts on weekdays and weekends in factory, warehouse, and manufacturing environments of all types. Line supervisors, foremen, and assembly managers supervise assembly operators, who typically work within an assigned area on a specific line.
Assembly Operator Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for assembly operators vary based on the products created by the hiring company. However, the core responsibilities for assembly operators are the same in all workplaces and industries and include the following:
Read Instructions, Blueprints, and Drawings
Assembly operators read blueprints and other types of drawings, as well as detailed written instructions, to use as a guide for proper assembly of products and product parts.
Assembly operators place fully assembled items in boxes and bins after they come off the assembly line, then sort these items into their designated locations.
Assembly operators monitor the assembly line and related machinery for proper functionality. If any defects in the line or machinery are detected, assembly operators hit the “kill switch” to stop the line and halt production until the problem is fixed.
Inspect Finished Products
Assembly operators visually inspect and test finished items to ensure they have been correctly assembled. This may include polishing items to remove fingerprints.
Load and Unload Inventory
Assembly operators load products and pieces slated for assembly onto the line and load fully assembled, boxed products into their designated locations.
Adhere to Safety Protocols
Assembly operators adhere to all safety protocols and wear proper safety gear at all times while on the manufacturing, warehouse, or factory room floor.
Assembly Operator Skills and Qualifications
Assembly operators perform assembly tasks repeatedly in accordance with instructions and diagrams that display proper assembly procedures. Employers look for assembly operators who have the skills and stamina required to quickly and accurately assemble products and components, including:
- Reading comprehension – assembly operators work using written instructions and detailed diagrams, which requires good reading and visual comprehension
- Mathematics – assembly operators have a basic grasp of mathematics and know how to read measuring devices to perform required assembly and inspection duties
- Computer skills – many assembly lines use digital machinery and equipment, which requires assembly operators to have at least basic computer skills
- Attention to detail – assembly operators must spot small defects and potential problems in all products on their line, as well problems on the line itself, requiring these professionals to be detail-oriented workers
- Physical stamina – assembly operators lift and carry heavy pieces of equipment and boxes and stand on their feet for hours at a time, which requires physical strength and endurance
Tools of the Trade
In addition to tools specific to the items being assembled on the line, assembly operators work regularly with the following instruments:
- Hand assembly tools (anvils, tappers, turntables, screwdrivers)
- Measuring tools (rulers, micrometers, gauges)
- Scanning tools (UPC codes, hand scanners, wall scanners)
Assembly Operator Education and Training
Assembly operators must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers also require assembly operators to have one to two years’ past manufacturing work experience. Forklift training is not typically required, but potential employees who have forklift certification will stand out among other candidates vying for the same jobs.
Assembly operators receive paid, hands-on training for the first one to two weeks after being hired to learn the specific functions associated with their tasks on the assembly line. Assembly operators are closely monitored by supervisors and line managers at this time, until they have complete understanding of how to assemble products and components while adhering to all company and safety standards.
Assembly Operator Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that assemblers and fabricators earn $30,930 as a median annual salary, or $14.87 per hour. Assemblers and fabricators perform the same job functions as assembly operators. Jobs in this career are projected to decline 14 percent through 2026.
Assembly operators receive basic healthcare insurance with dental and vision benefits included. Some companies also provide additional monetary incentives to assembly operators, such as paycheck bonuses for perfect work attendance.
Use the information in these resources to learn how to successfully pursue a career as an assembly operator and move toward promotion in the field:
National Association of Manufacturers – browse the NAM website to find press releases and manufacturing news, data and reports about manufacturing across the country, and a career center offering manufacturing job opportunities of all kinds
Frontline Manufacturing: Rules, Tools, and Techniques for Line Workers – learn assembly line tips and techniques that increase productivity in this book, which also contains a glossary of common manufacturing words to improve line communication and comprehension
Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International – FMA offers a job board, education resources, and an events calendar for manufacturing professionals and assembly operators in all industries
Alive and Well at the End of the Day: The Supervisor’s Guide to Managing Safety in Operations – use this book to master line assembly safety protocols and learn how to communicate with others who are not following proper safety procedures
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