Production workers assemble and test products ranging from plastic bottles to cars. Manufacturing is an important part of the economy, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects slower than average job growth through 2020. As production becomes more automated, processes become more efficient, and less human labor is needed. This will make the job market more competitive and people will need to pay closer attention to employers' requirements.
The educational requirements for entry-level production workers vary depending on the industry and the complexity of the work. Some jobs require only a GED or high school diploma, whereas aircraft and motor vehicle production workers are often required to have technical training or an associate degree. Many jobs are available without certification, but the BLS says it is usually required for electrical or electronic jobs in the aerospace and defense industries.
Math and Problem-Solving Skills
As production jobs become more high-tech, math becomes more essential. Many employers require workers to pass a math test before they are hired. Employers also want people with good communication and problem-solving abilities. These skills are becoming increasingly important since new processes, such as lean manufacturing, require workers to be able to perform many different tasks, says CareerPath, the occupational resource division of CareerBuilder.
Mechanical and Technical Skills
Some production jobs offer full training, but many require workers to have some mechanical skills already, such as the ability to use hand and power tools or computers and programmable devices. Still, machines and software vary and different applications are needed to produce different products. Production workers need technical skills to understand manuals, complex instructions and schematics for machines and products.
Production workers need to be in good shape. Their jobs are usually repetitious, continuous and often fast-paced. Workers do a lot of standing, bending and sometimes climbing. Nonin, a medical monitoring company, requires its medical production workers to have the ability to use their hands to finger, handle and feel. Workers must also have the ability to frequently sit, stand, walk, reach, stoop, kneel and crouch. Many employers also require workers to have the ability to regularly lift heavy loads. To meet the demands of the job, production workers need stamina, dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. Workers may have to meet vision standards, including an assessment of color vision. To help assure that workers are fit, many companies require a physical.
Drug and Background Checks
Safety is a top priority in a production setting. To reduce risks, most employers will require workers to pass a drug test. Even after hiring, many companies randomly test their employees. Some also require workers to pass a criminal background check.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Assemblers and Fabricators: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Assemblers and Fabricators: How To Become An Assembler or Fabricator
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Assemblers and Fabricators: What Assemblers and Fabricators Do
- Nonin: Production Assembler
- West Sound Workforce: Production Workers
- CareerPath: Machinery Manufacturing
- Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images
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