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Production worker (manufacturing) Process operative, factory worker

Production workers manufacture goods and parts in industries like pharmaceuticals, food and drink, construction and engineering.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £20,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 42 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, but some employers may ask for a good standard of general education.

Some employers may prefer you to have previous experience on a production line, and forklift training could be useful for some jobs.

You may have to take a test to assess your practical skills.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • good practical skills
  • the ability to work quickly and methodically
  • the ability to concentrate while doing repetitive tasks
  • the ability to follow instructions

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • measuring, grading and feeding batches of raw materials into production machinery
  • operating production line equipment, like a conveyor line in a canning factory
  • assembling goods on a production line, like fitting circuit boards into computers
  • reporting equipment faults to maintenance staff
  • finishing products, for example applying protective coatings
  • monitoring the production process and carrying out basic testing and quality checks
  • storing goods and raw materials in the factory or warehouse
  • using lifting equipment and forklift trucks
  • packing goods ready for shipment
  • cleaning and maintaining work areas and machinery
You’ll usually work as part of a team under the supervision of a shift leader, carrying out several tasks within the same shift.

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £17,000

Experienced: £18,000 to £20,000

You may get extra payments for unsocial shifts and overtime, and productivity bonuses.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually cover a variety of shifts, including days, nights and weekends. Overtime is often available.

You’ll mainly work in a factory on a production line. You may spend a lot of your time standing while operating machinery, or sitting at a workbench or assembly line.

You’ll usually wear protective clothing, like overalls and safety shoes.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could be promoted to shift supervisor or move into quality control.

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Last updated: 08 December 2016