Assemble or modify electromechanical equipment or devices, such as servomechanisms, gyros, dynamometers, magnetic drums, tape drives, brakes, control linkage, actuators, and appliances.
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Employment is projected to experience little or no change, primarily reflecting productivity growth and strong foreign competition in manufacturing. Job opportunities are expected to be good for qualified applicants in the manufacturing sector, particularly in growing, high-technology industries.
Employment of assemblers and fabricators is expected to experience little or no change between 2008 and 2018, declining by 2 percent. 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, despite projected growth in the output of manufactured goods, overall employment is not expected to grow as the whole sector becomes more efficient and is able to produce more with fewer workers. However, some individual industries are projected to have more jobs than others. The aircraft products and parts industry is projected to gain jobs over the decade as demand for new commercial planes grows significantly. Thus, the need for aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers is expected to grow. Also, industries such as electromedical product manufacturing, which includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, pacemakers, and other devices, should grow with an aging population requiring additional medical technology.
In most other manufacturing industries, employment of assemblers and fabricators will be negatively affected by increasing productivity, which will come from improved processes, tools, and, in some cases, automation. Automation is limited in assembly by intricate products and complicated techniques. Automation will replace workers in operations with a large volume of simple, repetitive work. Automation will have less effect on the assembly of products that are low in volume or very complicated.
The use of team production techniques has been one factor in the continuing success of the manufacturing sector, boosting productivity and improving the quality of goods. Thus, while the number of assemblers overall is expected to decline in manufacturing, the number of team assemblers should grow as more manufacturing plants convert to using team production techniques.
Some manufacturers have sent their assembly functions to countries where labor costs are lower. Decisions by U.S. corporations to move manufacturing to other nations may limit employment growth for assemblers in some industries.
The largest increase in the number of assemblers and fabricators is projected to be in the employment services industry, which supplies temporary workers to various industries. Temporary workers are gaining in importance in the manufacturing sector and elsewhere, as companies facing cost pressures strive for a more flexible workforce to meet fluctuations in the market.
Job opportunities for assemblers are expected to be good for qualified applicants in the manufacturing sector, particularly in growing, high-technology industries, such as aerospace and electromedical devices. Some employers report difficulty finding qualified applicants looking for manufacturing employment. Many job openings will result from the need to replace workers leaving or retiring from this large occupational group.
Assemblers and fabricators held about 2.0 million jobs in 2008. They worked in many industries, but over 75 percent worked in manufacturing. Within the manufacturing sector, assembly of transportation equipment, such as aircraft, autos, trucks, and buses, accounted for 20 percent of all jobs. Assembly of computers and electronic products accounted for another 11 percent of all jobs. Other industries that employ many assemblers and fabricators are machinery manufacturing and electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturing.
The following tabulation shows the employment of assemblers and fabricators in the manufacturing industries that employed the most workers in 2008:
|Motor vehicle parts manufacturing
|Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing
|Motor vehicle manufacturing
|Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing
|Architectural and structural metals manufacturing
Assemblers and fabricators also work in many other nonmanufacturing industries. Twelve percent were employed by employment services firms, mostly as temporary workers; these temporary workers were mostly assigned to manufacturing plants. Wholesale and retail trade firms employed the next highest number of assemblers and fabricators. Many of these assemblers perform the final assembly of goods before the item is delivered to the customer. For example, most imported furniture is shipped in pieces and assemblers for furniture wholesalers and retailers put together the furniture prior to delivery.
Team assemblers, the largest specialty, accounted for 57 percent of assembler and fabricator jobs. The distribution of employment among the various types of assemblers was as follows in 2008:
|Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers
|Structural metal fabricators and fitters
|Electromechanical equipment assemblers
|Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers
|Engine and other machine assemblers
|Fiberglass laminators and fabricators
|Coil winders, tapers, and finishers
|Timing device assemblers, adjusters, and calibrators
|Assemblers and fabricators, all other
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience maybe helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a drywall installer could benefit from experience in installing dry wall, but an inexperienced person could learn the job fairly easily.
These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job related course work. In some cases, you may need an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.
Drywall installers, fire inspectors, flight attendants, pharmacy technicians, retail salespersons, and bank tellers.
In these occupations you can often use your knowledge and skills to help others.
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For information on certifications in electronics soldering, contact:
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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