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Assemblers and Fabricators Job Outlook

Employment of assemblers and fabricators is expected to grow 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.

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 is not expected to grow as fast as all other occupations because many manufacturing sectors are expected to become more efficient and able to produce more with fewer workers.

However, some individual industries are projected to have more jobs than others. The aircraft products and parts manufacturing industry is projected to gain jobs over the decade as demand for new commercial planes grows significantly. Thus, the need for assemblers for aircraft structures, surfaces, rigging, and systems is expected to grow.

In most other manufacturing industries, improved processes, tools, and, in some cases, automation will reduce job growth. Automation will replace workers in operations with a large volume of simple, repetitive work.

However, automation is not expected to have a large effect on the assembly of products that are low in volume or very complicated. Intricate products and complicated techniques often cannot be automated. 

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 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 other sectors, as companies facing cost pressures strive for a more flexible workforce to meet fluctuations in the market.

Job Prospects

Qualified applicants, including those with technical vocational training and certification, should have the best job opportunities 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 should result from the need to replace workers leaving or retiring from this large occupation.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition