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Attn: Assembly Workers. Have You Heard About Cleanroom Jobs?

man working in lab

When you hear the word “cleanroom,” what do you think of? Hint: It has little to do with cleaning.

A cleanroom is a highly controlled environment that differs from the traditional assembly atmosphere. It presents a growing opportunity for people working in assembly jobs. What’s more, some cleanroom work is uniquely designed to impact humanity for the better.

We learned all of this from industry expert Sherri Richardson, an Aerotek on-premise executive, working with a cleanroom company in Irving, Texas. Read on to see what you can expect from a cleanroom job and how to qualify for one.

What do you do in a cleanroom?

Cleanroom jobs overlap with several fields.

In a cleanroom, you may manufacture part or all of the following:

  • Medical devices like pacemakers and artificial limbs
  • Aerospace equipment
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Cell phones
  • Smart watches
  • Laptops
  • Circuit boards that go into a wide range of electronics

The sterile environment ensures that delicate components aren’t contaminated by dust and other debris. Most tasks involve assembling intricate components. Additional responsibilities may include supervising the work, or handling the data entry side of the business, like documentation and inventory. It’s similar to other assembly lines, except it's done in a sterile environment.

What skills do you need to work in a cleanroom?

Cleanroom employers are looking for assembly workers who are both detail- and team-oriented. They also look for computer skills and detailed documentation experience.

While some cleanrooms might require special certification, it’s not universal. Richardson says, “One particular cleanroom requires that new personnel undergo several days of training with an experienced technician, particularly with entering and exiting a cleanroom. Adhering to special procedures when going in and out can be the difference between a clean cleanroom and one that’s been compromised.”

This type of job focuses more on the right skills than on beefed-up credentials, so the right assembly work experience paired with a GED or high school diploma can get you in the door.

What is a cleanroom environment like?

Working in a clean room isn’t necessarily hard, but it’s rigorous and systematic. To reduce skin particles, dirt, dust and allergens in the room, you have to wear:

  • A protective suit
  • A face mask
  • Gloves
  • A hair net
  • Sleeve protectors
  • Boot covers
  • Facial hair covers

It’s a cold, slightly pressurized facility, where gearing up for the job isn’t just about what you wear — it’s also about what you can’t:

  • No makeup
  • No jewelry
  • No fake nails or fake eyelashes
  • No cologne or perfume

“I think the strongest reaction I get from candidates is probably about the makeup,” Richardson says. “Another thing to consider is that working in a cleanroom isn’t like sitting at your desk. You don't have all your personal items around you, including your cell phone, which in many workplaces is considered to be a distraction. Here, it's also a contaminant.”

But if you think about what products people develop and test in locations like these — it’s a job that can make a difference in other people’s lives. In the case of assembling medical devices, this difference can even be great enough to save lives.

How can you advance in a cleanroom career?

Assembly workers with a strong work ethic and proficiency in the detail-oriented and documentation skills we’ve mentioned can become trainers or team leads, both of which offer an increase in pay.

“It's a great field to get into,” Richardson says. “Our future will see a huge growth in the need for cleanroom professionals at all levels. Because there is a limited supply of trained cleanroom personnel now, there’s a real opportunity to get in at the ground floor, and I only see the trends going up.”

So, if you feel like you’re ready to move on from traditional assembly work, explore cleanroom opportunities on our job board.