Fabricator Job Description
Fabricators create the components that go into products ranging from cell phones to vehicles. Fabricators share many duties with assemblers, but this role frequently involves working closely with raw materials to create the components used in the assembly process. Fabricators tend to work in factories and manufacturing plants.
With manufacturing companies incorporating increasingly sophisticated machinery and automated processes into assembly lines, the role of the fabricator has shifted in recent years. In addition to creating components using hand and power tools, many fabricators now work with computerized devices and motion-capture robots to fabricate products with a higher level of precision.
Fabricator Duties and Responsibilities
While fabricators can have different duties depending on the industry they work within, many of the postings that we analyzed shared several core responsibilities:
Create Components and Products
The primary responsibility of a fabricator is to create products and the components that go inside them. Depending on a fabricator’s industry and area of specialization, these components can range from miniscule fasteners that hold together a cell phone to large sheet metal components that are used in aircraft construction. Fabricators use a variety of hand tools and specialized machinery to create these components.
Interpret Blueprints and Schematics
Fabricators frequently examine and interpret blueprints and manufacturing schematics to ensure that they are assembling components and products correctly. While examining schematics, fabricators also determine their tool and material needs, reading parts lists to ensure they have everything they need on hand to prevent delays.
Conduct Quality Assurance Procedures
Fabricators also play an important role in quality control, examining parts and components to ensure that they are free of defects. Fabricators may repair products or remake certain components to eliminate errors, and they report these errors to supervisors and other workers on the assembly line. They may also need to make alterations to the parts to fit product specifications.
Improve Process Efficiency
Fabricators improve manufacturing processes and enhance efficiency by noting areas that slow down the assembly line. They may make recommendations to improve overall process efficiency or to improve their own workflow. As part of this aspect of the role, fabricators may also troubleshoot and provide reports to their supervisors or other assembly personnel.
Contribute to Product Development
In many cases, fabricators work closely with engineers and designers on product development, providing input and advice during the development and planning phases. They may create prototypes based on engineer or designer plans and report errors or potential manufacturing delays, which the engineer then uses to develop the next iteration of the product.
Fabricator Skills and Qualifications
Fabricators create a variety components and products, from handheld consumer devices to airplanes. This role requires a high school diploma or GED and the following skills:
- Technical skills – fabricators read and interpret blueprints and specification sheets, so they need a high level of technical competence and the ability to operate industrial machinery
- Dexterity – many fabricators assemble components or devices using their hands and tools, so they need to be dexterous enough to operate hand tools and work with small parts
- Team coordination – fabricators work with teams of engineers, assemblers, and other fabricators, so they should be able to successfully collaborate with team members throughout the manufacturing process
- Safety skills – there are many hazards in a manufacturing setting, so fabricators employ best practices to maintain jobsite safety and ensure that their workspaces are clear of potential dangers
- Quality assurance skills – fabricators examine the components and devices they work on to ensure that they have followed specifications and correctly fabricated and assembled the parts, so some experience with quality control is vital
Tools of the Trade
Fabricators tend to work in manufacturing plants or factories and should be able to use the following:
- Hand tools (screwdrivers, welding tools)
- Industrial machinery (motion-control robots, drill presses)
Fabricator Education and Training
Generally, fabricators need at least a high school diploma or GED. Companies may also seek candidates who have received vocational or technical education to prepare them to work as fabricators. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role, as most fabricators work for several months under the supervision of more experienced workers and may receive technical education as part of the training process.
Fabricators who work with more specialized equipment may need more education. While most fabricator positions don’t require certification, achieving training and certification through an organization like the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association can boost earnings.
Fabricator Salary and Outlook
Because fabricators work in a variety of industries, pay can vary significantly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), assemblers and fabricators earn a median annual salary of $31,850. The highest-paid 10 percent earn over $53,120 annually, while the lowest-paid workers in this role earn less than $21,270.
The BLS estimates that assembler and fabricator employment will shrink 14 percent by 2026 as manufacturers increasingly rely on automation and lean processes that enhance efficiency.
If you’d like to learn more about working as a fabricator, we found a number of resources on the web for further reading:
Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International – FMA is a professional and industry organization that provides education and career development opportunities for fabricators and assemblers
Professional Sheet Metal Fabrication – Ed Barr’s guidebook explores the principles of sheet metal fabrication with examples that focus on a wide variety of industries and settings
“Best Practices for Industrial Welding” – this blog post examines proven approaches to industrial welding, a necessary skill for many fabricators
Practical Fabrication and Assembly Techniques: Automotive, Motorcycle, Racing – Wayne Scraba provides practical advice and guidance for fabricators, focusing specifically on automotive fabrication
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