What it takes to be a production technician: skills and jobs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 November 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.

Production technicians test new products before they're put on sale. They might use product tests to identify safety issues or functional defects before considering ways to fix these problems. If you're a detail-oriented person passionate about delivering a positive customer experience, you may build a successful career as a production technician. In the article, we offer lists detailing the key skills, certifications and career options vital to this career path before providing salary data and a job description.

What it takes to be a production technician

To build a successful career as a production technician, you may benefit from having skills that make it easier to uphold high standards of production at your organisation. The list below provides a clear picture of what it takes to be a production technician by outlining five relevant soft and technical skills:

Critical thinking

One skill that you can benefit from having is critical thinking, which you may use to devise workable solutions to complex problems. By developing this skill, you could find it easier to identify a problem's cause, recognise its impact on the production process and develop quick yet informed solutions.

For example, if you're testing a word processing app, you may be concerned if lag time exists between typing text and it appearing on the screen. In response, you may consider the potential causes of this issue, such as poor code or running several apps at once. You can then troubleshoot each potential cause, starting with the most simple and continuing until you resolve the issue. If the problem stems from poor code, you might advise developers on how to rewrite it.

Related: How to think critically and improve problem-solving skills

Data analysis

You can also benefit from developing data analysis skills as these attributes can make monitoring a production line's performance easier. Senior production technicians use data analytics tools to assess the overall output per resource expended during a production process. They can also break down the data to determine the efficiency of different stages of the production process before considering ways to boost total productive efficiency. Besides monitoring production, production technicians can use data analysis skills to measure the test product's performance against several measures to judge if it's ready for commercial release.

Related: How to analyse data: definition, steps, benefits and skills

Attention to detail

If you're attentive to detail, you can perform product tests in a thorough and regimented manner, accounting for every possible safety flaw or design fault. This might help the organisation to ensure lasting brand loyalty as customers receive consistently high-quality products. You may also use attention to detail to monitor your colleagues' adherence to national workplace safety regulations.

Related: Detail-oriented skills: definition, tips and examples

Empathy

A fourth skill that you may benefit from possessing is empathy as this skill makes it easier to appreciate what consumers expect new products to deliver. In this situation, you could design several testing metrics to judge the product's ease of use or if it serves its intended purpose. You could also design several customer profiles, each with unique personality traits. You could then determine if the product effectively serves each persona's needs, recommending that developers make functional changes if required.

Related: Empathic skills: definition, examples and how to improve

Research

Research skills are the ability to resolve work problems by sourcing data from outside sources, interpreting it and applying to practical tasks. Examples of such skills include performing online research, assessing primary source data or taking observational notes. As a production technician, you can use research skills to gain new insights about production theories, such as lean or agile methodologies. You can then consider how applying these ideas to production may increase output or deliver improved customer experiences.

Related: Research skills: definition and examples

Educational opportunities

This list details different educational pathways that you may follow to build the technical knowledge required begin a career in this industry:

Level 3 Assessment and Quality Assurance

One course that you might enrol on is the Level 3 Assessment and Quality Assurance pathway, regulated by the City and Guilds. Here you can study for three Level 3 Awards: the Award in Understanding the Principles and Practices, the Award in Assessing Competence in the Work Environment and the Award in Assessing Vocationally Related Achievement. By earning these qualifications, you can study quality assurance principles and practises, before learning how to enact these ideas in real-world production processes.

After finishing each Award scheme, you can earn the Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement. This certificate provides accredited proof that you possess the technical skills and expertise delivered by each Award scheme.

Technical apprenticeship

If you wish to combine work and study, technical apprenticeships may provide a useful pathway into a career as a production technician. For example, you could apply for a position on the Level 3 Science Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship scheme. The scheme's entry requirements usually expect candidates to possess at least five GCSEs in different subjects, including mathematics, English and science. This apprenticeship usually lasts for between 12-24 months, though its exact length can vary depending on your prior work experience.

During your studies, you can learn how to use machinery to start, operate and halt manufacturing processes. You may also study quality assurance procedures, regulatory compliance and workplace safety standards.

Job options for production technicians

This list details four jobs that you can secure as a production technician:

1. Assembly technician

National average salary: £23,547 per year

Primary duties: Assembly technicians produce specific components or functions for new products based on blueprints drafted by senior developers. Depending on their technical specialism, assembly technicians could create a wide range of specialist components. For example, software experts may design a song skip function for a music streaming app, whereas car assembly experts may design anti-lock brakes. Before integrating the component into the final product, these professionals might test it to judge if it functions as expected. If not, they may evaluate the assembly process to discover the problem's root cause.

Related: How to become an assembly operative: a useful guide

2. Manufacturing technician

National average salary: £25,302 per year

Primary duties: Manufacturing technicians may instal, maintain and monitor the performance of productive equipment used to manufacturer certain products. They may maintain updated records to provide proof that the manufacturing process meets government health and safety standards. They regularly assess productive equipment to proactively identify potential weathering or impending system breakdowns, fixing these issues before they could disrupt production. Manufacturing technicians often audit production processes to identify potential inefficiencies and consider ways to reduce resource wastage.

Related: What is manufacturing? With five manufacturing processes

3. Quality assurance analyst

National average salary: £31,319 per year

Primary duties: Quality assurance analysts test software products before commercial release to ensure they function as expected. They could advise software developers on improving a new app or operating system's processing speeds, user interface or data storage capacity, considering a project's budgetary constraints. They might compile this advice into a report outlining the root causes of software problems, how developers can amend software code and the resulting performance benefits. Quality assurance analysts can also design the control measures used to evaluate software performance.

Related: What is quality assurance and why is it so important?

4. Quality assurance manager

National average salary: £42,368 per year

Primary duties: Quality assurance managers design the internal procedures that production line colleagues follow to develop safe and functional products. They may review these policies regularly, using data analysis to evaluate their effectiveness and identify useful improvements. They're also familiar with national quality assurance, product safety and workplace safety regulations, accounting for these rules when creating internal standards. Quality assurance managers may draft training programmes to teach junior colleagues to adhere to these standards during shifts.

What are a production technician's responsibilities?

If you're employed as a production technician, you're responsible for ensuring customers always receive safe and functional products. You could carry out extensive tests on new or modified products to ensure that they perform as expected, identifying possible faults before they're made available for general sale. Depending on your professional interests, you may specialise in testing certain types of products, such as food items or anti-virus software. You could also provide equipment maintenance and product safety training to production line colleagues to minimise disruption caused by production errors.

This bullet point list details a production technician's core responsibilities:

  • assessing a product's quality, safety features and functionality

  • inspecting productive equipment and reporting faults to senior management

  • using production data to measure efficiency and consider improvements

  • recommending changes to improve the effectiveness of quality assurance measures

  • training junior colleagues to use productive equipment, abide by workplace safety regulations or follow quality assurance procedures

  • using preventative maintenance techniques to minimise disruption to output

  • studying modern production methods before introducing them to the production process

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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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