Assemblers and fabricators held about 1.8 million jobs in 2021. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up assemblers and fabricators was distributed as follows:
|Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators||1,367,100|
|Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers||279,500|
|Structural metal fabricators and fitters||63,600|
|Engine and other machine assemblers||47,300|
|Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers||34,300|
|Fiberglass laminators and fabricators||17,800|
|Coil winders, tapers, and finishers||11,400|
|Timing device assemblers and adjusters||600|
The largest employers of assemblers and fabricators were as follows:
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||25%|
|Temporary help services||12|
|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.
Injuries and Illnesses
Some assemblers come into contact with potentially dangerous chemicals or fumes, but ventilation systems usually minimize any harmful effects. Other assemblers 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; these workers must wear protective gear, such as gloves and long sleeves, and must use respirators for safety.
Most assemblers and fabricators work full time. Some assemblers and fabricators work in shifts, which may require evening, weekend, and night work.
The education and qualifications typically needed to enter these occupations vary by industry and employer. Although a high school diploma is enough for most jobs, experience and training are needed for advanced assembly work.
Assemblers and fabricators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation.
Workers typically receive several months of on-the-job training, sometimes including employer-sponsored technical instruction.
Skilled assemblers and fabricators may need special training or an associate’s degree, depending on the employer. For example, workers in electrical, electronic, and aircraft and motor vehicle products manufacturing typically need postsecondary 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, these credentials demonstrate competence and professionalism and may help a candidate advance in the occupation.
In addition, many employers, especially those in the aerospace and defense industries, require electrical and electronic assembly workers to have certifications in soldering. The Association Connecting Electronics Industries, also known as IPC, offers a number of certification programs related to electronic assembly and soldering.
Experienced assemblers and fabricators may advance to become a supervisor or manager.
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 $37,170 in May 2021. 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 $27,420, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $58,640.
Median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in May 2021 were as follows:
|Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers||$49,480|
|Engine and other machine assemblers||47,440|
|Structural metal fabricators and fitters||45,480|
|Coil winders, tapers, and finishers||38,360|
|Timing device assemblers and adjusters||37,780|
|Fiberglass laminators and fabricators||37,650|
|Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers||37,460|
|Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators||36,590|
In May 2021, the median annual wages for assemblers and fabricators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||$44,980|
|Fabricated metal product manufacturing||37,400|
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||37,230|
|Temporary help services||29,820|
Wages vary by industry, geographic region, skill, education level, and complexity of the machinery operated.
Most assemblers and fabricators work full time, and some work evenings and weekends.
Overall employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline 6 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Despite declining employment, about 192,100 openings for assemblers and fabricators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Projected employment of assemblers and fabricators varies by occupation (see table).
In general, employment of assemblers and fabricators is projected to decline or have limited growth 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 increasing efficiency by working alongside robots, also known as “collaborative robotics,” which may reduce the demand for some assemblers and fabricators.
Changes in the cost of operations both in the United States and abroad may encourage some manufacturers to bring back production that was previously sent offshore. However, because new facilities in the United States likely will incorporate more automation technologies, they may require less labor overall and may require workers to have high-level skills.
For more information about assemblers and fabricators, including certification, training, and professional development, visit
Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International
For information about careers in manufacturing, visit
For information about certifications in electronics soldering, visit:
Association Connecting Electronics Industries