(4.0 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||12,700|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Social Services Jobs||#30|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#99|
How many of us pause to consider the skilled hands that spent hours putting together our prized plasma TVs and MacBook Pros? The nimble fingers belong to fabricators—diligent men and women tasked with assembling finished products and the parts that go into them. Aside from using their hands, these workers also rely on tools and machinery to make engines, computers, aircrafts, toys, electronic devices, and other products. Dan Davis, editor-in-chief for online news site The Fabricator says it’s the thrill of thinking critically in a specified window of time that excites fabricators most. “Based on conversations with metal fabricators, I would say the most rewarding part of the job is the ability to work with your hands and solve problems,” he says. “They listen to customers and figure out how to make a metal part work for a particular application. Every day represents new jobs and new challenges. They aren’t stuck behind a desk.” Fabricators might work in the ship and boat-building industry, but the majority of them are employed in the architectural and structural metals and other fabricated metal product manufacturing industries. Unlike industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers, fabricators typically don’t maintain and repair equipment and industrial machinery; their chief job is to assemble and build.
Davis says layoffs in the fabrication field aren’t as high today as they have been in the past. “Nowadays, it’s not as high as it might have been in the 1990s when layoffs in manufacturing companies made all of the headlines,” he says. “A lot of baby boomers are retiring, so companies are looking to fill the ranks.” Fabricators held a whopping 1.6 million jobs in 2010, many of which were in manufacturing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projected employment growth up to 2020 hovers around 5 percent, which is slower than the average rate for all occupations.
The average fabricator earned $35,170 in 2011. The highest earners made about $52,150, while the lowest-paid earned $24,190 in that same period. The specialized design services, aerospace product and parts manufacturing, and support activities for water transportation industries tend to pay best. The top-three metro areas that compensate fabricators best are Seattle, Minneapolis, and Champaign, Ill.
After earning a high school diploma or GED and upon finding work, beginner fabricators receive on-the-job training that might involve employer-sponsored technical instruction. Some employers might require their workers to take that a step further, mandating specialized training or an associate’s degree. Jobs involving electrical, electronic, and aircraft and motor-vehicle products manufacturers might require more formal learning at technical schools. Certifications are not required generally, but they can bolster a fabricator’s resume and give them a leg-up in the job hunt.
Mechanical skills and physical strength aren’t the only qualities necessary for excelling in the fabricator field. Dexterity, solid mathematical skills, sound color vision, and stamina are also musts. “The more special skills a fabricator has, the more valuable he or she is to an employer,” Davis says.
|Stress Level||Above Average|