A production worker at a factory or manufacturing plant helps to fabricate, assemble, and test parts and products. This person might work as part of an assembly line team or single-handedly construct a product from raw materials. These workers make sure items are built according to exact blueprints or specifications and that final products meet safety and quality standards.
Depending on the facility, a production worker's job may involve intensive manual labor or careful monitoring of robotic equipment. Manual labor positions usually involve fast, repetitive actions, such as drilling, bolting, riveting, welding, or cutting. Many modern factories employ computer controls and robots to handle manual tasks, and it is up to other employees to program these instructions and inspect the finished items.
In order to ensure safety and efficiency, a worker needs to have excellent decision-making skills and attention to detail. He or she must be able to recognize and remedy small problems before they become major setbacks. Someone who operates an industrial drill press, for example, might notice that drilling through metal sheets has suddenly become more difficult. Instead of simply applying more force, he or she should inspect the bit to see if it is dull or cracked. By taking time to repair or replace it, the worker can avoid damaging the machine and avert a potential safety hazard.
The requirements to become a production worker may vary based on the setting. Most factories and manufacturing plants will hire applicants who hold high school diplomas and can demonstrate strong organizational and technical skills. An individual may need to earn a degree or certificate from a vocational school if he or she wants to work in a highly-specialized type of facility, such as an automobile or aeronautics engineering company. In most cases, new employees receive on-the-job training from supervisors and experienced workers to learn about safety policies and how to operate particular machinery and equipment.
Successful production workers who demonstrate leadership qualities generally enjoy many opportunities for advancement. An experienced worker may be able to become a shift supervisor or factory manager, overseeing workmanship and quality control. Some are able to obtain office positions, such as industrial buyer and operations executive jobs, where they are able to make important decisions regarding company policies, equipment purchases, shipping methods, and advertising strategies. With continuing education and ongoing experience, a driven individual may be able to open his or her own manufacturing business.