Assemblers and fabricators held about 1.9 million jobs in 2018. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up assemblers and fabricators was distributed as follows:
|Assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers||1,379,400|
|Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers||279,600|
|Structural metal fabricators and fitters||80,400|
|Engine and other machine assemblers||48,700|
|Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers||45,100|
|Fiberglass laminators and fabricators||21,800|
|Coil winders, tapers, and finishers||12,300|
|Timing device assemblers and adjusters||800|
The largest employers of assemblers and fabricators were as follows:
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||26%|
|Temporary help services||13|
|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, such as in the shipbuilding industry.
Injuries and Illnesses
Some assemblers may come into contact with potentially harmful chemicals or fumes, but ventilation systems normally minimize any harmful effects. Other assemblers may 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. Therefore, fiberglass workers must wear gloves and long sleeves and must use respirators for safety.
Most assemblers and fabricators are employed full time. Some assemblers and fabricators work in shifts, which may require evening, weekend, and night work.
The education level and qualifications needed to enter these jobs varies with the industry and employer. Although a high school diploma is enough for most jobs, experience and additional training are needed for more advanced assembly work.
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent for assembler and fabricator positions.
Workers usually receive several months of on-the-job training, sometimes including employer-sponsored technical instruction.
Some employers may require specialized training or an associate’s degree for the most skilled assembly and fabrication jobs. For example, jobs with electrical, electronic, and aircraft and motor vehicle products manufacturers typically require more formal 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, becoming certified can demonstrate competence and professionalism. It also may help a candidate advance in the profession.
In addition, many employers that hire electrical and electronic assembly workers, especially those employers in the aerospace and defense industries, require certifications in soldering. The Association Connecting Electronics Industries, also known as IPC, offers a number of certification programs related to electronic assembly and soldering.
Assemblers and fabricators typically have an interest in the Building and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an assembler and fabricator, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Assemblers and fabricators should also possess the following specific qualities:
Color vision. Assemblers and fabricators who make electrical and electronic products must be able to distinguish different colors because the wires they work with often are color coded.
Dexterity. Assemblers and fabricators should have a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination, as they must grasp, manipulate, or assemble parts and components that are often very small.
Math skills. Assemblers and fabricators must know basic math and must be able to use computers, as the manufacturing process continues to advance technologically.
Mechanical skills. Modern production systems require assemblers and fabricators to be able 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 perform repetitious work.
Physical strength. Assemblers and fabricators must be strong enough to lift heavy components or pieces of machinery. Some assemblers, such as those in the aerospace industry, must frequently bend or climb ladders when assembling parts.
Technical skills. Assemblers and fabricators must be able to understand technical manuals, blue prints, and schematics for a wide range of products and machines to properly manufacture the final product.
The median annual wage for assemblers and fabricators was $33,710 in May 2019. 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 $23,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,660.
Median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in May 2019 were as follows:
|Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers||$54,210|
|Engine and other machine assemblers||45,660|
|Structural metal fabricators and fitters||40,390|
|Coil winders, tapers, and finishers||36,520|
|Fiberglass laminators and fabricators||35,480|
|Timing device assemblers and adjusters||35,080|
|Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers||34,810|
|Assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers||32,350|
In May 2019, the median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||$38,820|
|Fabricated metal product manufacturing||34,640|
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||34,200|
|Temporary help services||27,390|
Wages vary by industry, geographic region, skill, education level, and complexity of the machinery operated.
Most assemblers and fabricators are employed full time and may need to work evenings and weekends.
Overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.
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, overall 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 increasingly working alongside robots, also known as “collaborative robotics.” These new robots can help workers perform tasks and increase efficiency. However, this increased efficiency may reduce the demand for some assemblers and fabricators.
Cheaper and more advanced robotics, along with the possibility of decreased taxes and regulations, may entice some manufacturers to bring previously offshored production back to the United States. However, the new jobs may be more highly skilled in nature and more dependent upon automated technology.
Advances in three-dimensional printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has the potential to reshape the entire manufacturing sector in the future. Entire parts or even vehicles might be produced in a single build that would require very little assembly or fabrication by hand. This technology is still emerging though, and may not immediately affect the demand for these workers within the next 10 years.
Qualified applicants, including those with technical vocational training and certification, are likely to have the best job opportunities in growing, high-technology industries, such as aerospace and electro-medical devices manufacturing.
Many job openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who leave or retire from these large occupations.
For more information about assemblers and fabricators, including certification, training, and professional development, visit
For information about careers in manufacturing, visit
For information about certifications in electronics soldering, visit:
For a career video on structural metal fabricators and fitters, visit