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What Are the Different Types of Factory Workers?

Assemblers, handlers, machinists and packers are some of the most common factory workers.
A factory worker might be tasked with one aspect of production throughout the day.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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The largest population of factory workers are general laborers, sometimes known as assemblers. These workers may have little formal education, and the job functions they will undertake are fairly simple and straightforward, if sometimes boring. They may be responsible for assembling goods produced by the factory, or otherwise participating in the production of product. These types of factory workers generally earn less than other positions at the factory, and such jobs may be considered entry-level. These positions are very likely to be hourly positions rather than salary positions.

Handlers are the factory workers who take finished product and pack them for shipping. This may include simply boxing items, or it may involve boxing them, stacking the boxes on pallets, securing the pallets, moving the pallets with a forklift, packing containers and trucks, and so on. Handlers are sometimes considered general laborers, though in some factories, a handler position is a step up from a general labor or assembler position. The wages may be slightly better, though again, only a limited amount of education is necessary to obtain such a position. A high school diploma or equivalent is usually preferred but not always necessary.

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Machinists are factory workers who create metal, plastic, or even wooden parts using high-tech machines. The machinist is trained to operate specific machines, and he or she may be qualified to operate several machines on any given day. These workers earn higher wages than handlers and assemblers, and usually a high school education is required. Job training will be necessary to obtain such a position, and people working in general laborer or handler positions can often work toward obtaining a machinist job over time.

Maintenance staff include factory workers who are trained to repair the machines operating within the factory. Damage and wear are likely to occur over time, and the mechanics must know how to repair the damaged machinery quickly, safely, and correctly. Such a position often requires specific mechanical training or some level of schooling. Some maintenance staff, such as janitorial factory workers, are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the grounds of the factory, both inside and out of the building. These laborers are usually unskilled, and therefore do not get paid as high a wage as other maintenance staff. They may get paid a similar wage to a general laborer, since this is an unskilled position that does not require any certain level of education.

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anon313303
Post 6

Oh thank you thank you thank you. I needed to know what types of positions there were in a factory, and now I know. Very informative and helpful.

shell4life
Post 5

Factory managers can make pretty good salaries. My uncle is one, and he started out as a supervisor and worked his way up the ladder.

His pay as a supervisor was better than that of the general workers. He had his eye on the ultimate position within the factory, though. He knew the top guy would soon be retiring.

As manager, my uncle makes enough money to go on vacations a couple of times a year. He bought a motorcycle and an RV.

Of course, with the increase in pay comes more responsibility. He has to be on call at all times, day and night. He often works long hours or has to suffer the inconvenience of being called away from a dinner date or deep sleep.

wavy58
Post 4

My mother held several jobs at various clothing factories before they moved to Mexico. Her first job was at a shirt factory.

She had to sew on certain parts of the shirt. Then, an inspector would examine her work and either give it back to her to fix mistakes or send it on down the line.

It was boring work, but it was something she was good at, and it helped her to get out of the house after having been stuck at home with the baby (me).

When the shirt factory moved, she got a job at another one making scrubs. She has since worked at a golf bag factory and a place that makes carpet samples.

strawCake
Post 2

@JessicaLynn - While a college education to work as a laborer in a factory isn't necessary, if you want to work as a manager college is helpful. I know someone who works as a manager in a factory (not a shift manager, but a slightly higher up manager) and he has an associates degree in business.

He also had experience working as a laborer in a factory too, so I'm sure that helps.

JessicaLynn
Post 1

It sounds like someone could work as a factor worker with only a high school education. I feel like there are very few jobs available these days where that's even possible.

Still, working as an assembler in a factor is hard work. I know someone who worked as an assembler for a few years right out of high school (he later went to college) and he told that assemblers work hard pretty much all day long with very few breaks. You have to be able to stand in one place all day and be pretty physically fit in order to work in a factory.

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