8 Main Types of Factory Workers (Plus Duties and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Manufacturing is an industry that focuses on creating various products that consumers can use. Many manufacturing jobs take place at a factory or other production facility. Understanding the various types of jobs you can perform at a factory may help you find a position that fits your career goals. In this article, we discuss the different types of factory workers, explore some factors you can consider when choosing a job type and review some of the jobs you can perform at a factory.

What is a factory worker?

A factory worker refers to anyone who performs their duties primarily at a factory. While a general labourer is the most well-known factory position, there are multiple types of jobs in a factory with several different positions within each type. Most factory positions are part of the manufacturing industry, as factories primarily produce large quantities of a specific product for a company.

8 types of factory workers

There are different types of factory workers, each with their own skills and duties. Here are a few common types of jobs that you may find at a factory:

1. Engineering

Engineering professionals are people who design, build and test machines. Some engineers create a factory's products, while others design the machines that a factory uses to create a product. Many engineers spend time at factories watching the production process to help them think of new ways to develop the machines or products.

2. Assembly

Assembly staff, or general labourers, are the most common type of factory worker. They usually perform one aspect of the production process, such as connecting two toy car parts. Some general labourers may require basic machinery to help them accomplish their tasks. The duties of someone with a career in the assembly category may differ depending on the product they make and their specific job title.

3. Handling

Handling professionals are responsible for products after general labourers finish building them. They take the completed item and properly package it for distribution. This can include placing the products in boxes, transporting them using forklifts or other types of machinery, storing them in a distribution area or loading them onto trucks. Some handling professionals may also inspect the packages before delivery.

4. Machine operation

Many modern factories have various machines to help improve the efficiency and accuracy of the production process. Machinists operate more complicated machinery. They often need specific certifications or on-the-job training before using certain machines, though many start in assembly positions and obtain their qualifications while working.

5. Maintenance

Maintenance professionals help ensure that a factory continues functioning normally. This may include technicians who repair and monitor the production machinery or janitorial staff who maintain the cleanliness of the factory floor. This type of factory position has a wide range of duties, educational requirements and average salaries.

6. Quality assurance

A quality assurance (QA) professional ensures that a factory-made product meets the company's standards. While some QA professionals study the product during the design process or after its completion, many QA professionals inspect products at the factory. The educational requirements for a QA job can vary, and you may need more qualifications for complicated or technical products.

Read more: What Is Quality Assurance?

7. Health and safety

Factories often require compliance with health and safety regulations to protect their members and reduce accidents. Safety professionals can help review a facility to determine if they meet safety standards or help improve safety procedures. These professionals can work specifically for a factory or as third-party consultants.

Related: 8 Types of Health Policy Jobs (Plus Duties and Salaries)

8. Management

Factories are often large workplaces that require management positions to help monitor team members and perform administrative duties. Factory managers can oversee staff, order supplies and manage hiring and payroll processes. Some larger factories may have multiple departments that each require a management position.

Related: What Is the Function of a Manager? Definition and Roles

Choosing a factory position

The following are a few points to consider when selecting a factory career:

Education or training

While the exact educational requirements of a job may vary depending on the specific position, some careers may require more education than others. For example, an engineering career usually requires a bachelor's degree, while a maintenance professional may only need a certification program for the machines they repair. Consider your education level or vocational training when thinking about what type of factory position you may want to pursue.

Related: Vocational Training: Definition and Different Types

Physical requirements

Some factory jobs may require a large amount of physical strength or endurance. For example, handling professions often involve packing, lifting and moving large stacks of products. Understanding the physical aspects of the job may help you choose what type of factory job you want to perform.

Salary

Different types of factory positions may pay at different rates than others. Which type of job you perform may also affect whether you receive an hourly wage or a salary. Try to research any job types that interest you to determine the average salary or wage information.

Hours

What type of factory job you decide to perform may affect your working hours. For example, assembly or handling staff may work regular hours in the daytime, while those working in maintenance may have night shifts or perform services when a machine needs repairs. If you have a preference about your work hours, you may want to choose a type of career that matches your ideal work pattern.

6 factory jobs

Here are some examples of different factory jobs you can perform:

1. General labourers

National average salary: $54,212 per year

Primary duties: General labourers operate machinery and perform basic tasks at a production factory. They can put individual parts of a product together, operate conveyor belts, keep their work area clean and prepare products for distribution. General labourers may work in assembly, handling and potentially quality control.

2. Machinist

National average salary: $76,178 per year

Primary duties: Machinists use specialised equipment to create parts out of metal, plastic or wood. They can read blueprints, use measuring tools to assess their raw materials, cut pieces out of the materials and cut, grind or polish the parts to achieve their desired shape. Some machinists use computer numerical control, which uses a computer program to measure, cut and shape parts effectively, to create the parts.

3. Maintenance technician

National average salary: $77,575 per year

Primary duties: Maintenance technicians perform day-to-day maintenance tasks at a particular facility. These tasks can include painting walls, fixing leaking pipes or water fixtures, repairing damaged windows or furniture and inspecting electrical wires. They can also install new equipment, such as air conditioners or electrical lights or update existing systems.

4. Factory manager

National average salary: $79,501 per year

Primary duties: Factory managers ensure that everyone at the manufacturing plant or other factories complete their tasks properly and on time. Common duties include hiring and training new staff members, developing quality control processes, supervising work shifts and preparing production reports. Some factory managers may also perform QA duties by ensuring the products meet company standards.

5. Mechanical engineer

National average salary: $92,741 per year

Primary duties: Mechanical engineers design, build and test mechanical devices and machines. Mechanical engineers help design items, such as automotive parts, electrical systems for refrigerators, air conditioners, robotics designs and smaller individual parts for complex machinery. They can draw blueprints for their designs, create prototypes, test the effectiveness of their prototype, make any necessary changes and build a final product. Some mechanical engineers also supervise machinists to create parts for products and machines correctly.

6. Safety Specialist

National average salary: $102,529 per year

Primary duties: Safety specialists ensure that a facility meets all necessary health and safety standards and offer suggestions to help improve its safety policies. They can inspect the area, determine any potential safety risks or health challenges and record their findings in a safety report. Some safety specialists also perform safety training sessions to educate a facility's staff about how they can improve the overall safety of their workplace.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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