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Production workers contribute to manufacturing, fabrication, and assembly in a number of industries. While this role can include many different manufacturing or production duties, most production workers work on a production or assembly line and manufacture parts and products that eventually make their way to consumers. Production workers tend to work in teams where they may be responsible for a single element of a more complex project.

This is a highly physical role, and production workers may spend their entire shift on their feet while also bending and lifting heavy items. In some cases, this is also a very technical role that requires production workers to operate heavy industrial machinery safely and efficiently.

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Production Worker Duties and Responsibilities

While a production worker’s responsibilities can depend on the type of manufacturing or production they are engaged in, many of the core duties remain the same:

Assemble Products and Parts

Generally, a production worker's main duties involve assembling products or components within a factory setting. The specifics of this duty can depend largely on the organization. A production worker on a vehicle assembly line may be responsible for assembling a single part before sending it along to another production worker, while a production worker in industrial food production may produce products from raw materials and ingredients.

Follow Production Specifications

In any industry, production workers must follow production guidelines and specifications. In most cases, this includes performing spot checks on parts or products before sending them to other production workers. Production workers are responsible for ensuring that their output is consistent and correct to guarantee product quality and prevent manufacturing delays when the product reaches the quality control stage.

Operate and Maintain Machinery

Many production workers use specialized machinery while working on the production line and need to follow best practices for safe operation of these tools. In some cases, this can include performing routine maintenance on the machinery, while in other cases the production worker needs to report performance issues or hazards to their supervisor so that machine failure does not impact productivity.

Enhance Production Efficiency

Throughout the manufacturing process, production workers identify opportunities to enhance efficiency without sacrificing product quality. They may identify areas where production slows down and determine a solution that speeds up the entire line or may find a more efficient way to perform their specific duties. Production workers collaborate with supervisors and other team members to introduce these efficiency enhancements and measure their efficacy.

Maintain Production Line Safety

Because they work with machinery that can cause injuries, production workers also play a vital role in workplace safety. Production workers not only need to follow best practices for safe operation and processes, but they must also ensure that other elements of the production line do not present safety hazards. Production workers also maintain clean workspaces and provide incident reports in case of an accident.

Production Worker Skills and Qualifications

Production workers work in factories related to a variety of industries and manufacturing sectors. Companies typically hire candidates with a high school diploma and the following skills:

  • Machine operation - many production workers operate industrial machinery, so they need to be familiar with using this equipment safely and efficiently
  • Physical fitness - production workers frequently work on their feet for their entire shift and need to lift and carry heavy items. They need excellent stamina and should be able to bend and reach while performing their duties
  • Collaboration - production workers perform their duties in coordination with other workers, so they need to successfully collaborate and work as part of a team
  • Safety skills - maintaining jobsite safety is very important in this role, so some familiarity with best practices for preventing and reporting accidents and hazards is helpful
  • Communication skills - effective communication skills are also important in this role, since production workers need to communicate with team members and supervisors

Production Worker Education and Training

Production workers usually need at least a high school diploma or GED. Some experience in an industrial or manufacturing setting can also be helpful when searching for jobs. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role, and production workers who demonstrate exceptional skill can advance to supervisory roles over time.

Production Worker Salary and Outlook

Production worker salaries largely depend upon a worker’s specific industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies a number of careers as production workers, but found that production workers outside of its specific categories earn a median annual salary of $28,890. Both Glassdoor and PayScale have gathered data based on production worker salaries across industries. Glassdoor found that production workers earn $27,310 per year based on 1,782 reported salaries. This is relatively close to PayScale’s estimate of $12.51 per hour based on 2,928 reported salaries.

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Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found several articles and resources if you’d like to learn more about a career as a production worker:

"6 Skills You Need to Be Successful in a Manufacturing Career"

read this blog post to learn the key skills and talents that contribute to effective performance as a production worker

Production Worker Career: The Insider's Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview & Getting Promoted

Anne Johnson's handy career guide includes tips on finding employment and advancing your career as a production worker

"Can You Be a Creative Worker on a Production Line?"

this blog post explores the creative aspects of working on a production line, focusing on how creative solutions can enhance efficiency and job satisfaction

Production Line Efficiency: A Comprehensive Guide for Managers

Sabry Shaaban examines production line efficiency and provides advice on increasing performance

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