Makery survey: the new fablab jobs

Fabmanagers, entrepreneur makers, administrators… Makery wanted to know more about the job situation in the labs by surveying the maker community, in France and abroad. So we sent out a questionnaire, and we analyzed the results.

Published 4 April 2017 by Carine Claude

What is the profile of a typical fablabber? As the lab movement has considerably broadened and diversified (our map lists more than 850 labs in 2017, compared with 400 at the end of 2014), new professions are forming within the maker ecosystem. 73 people (53 in French, 20 in English) responded to our online questionnaire about age, gender, education, professional skills, job title, seniority, salary, as well as time spent on managing and mediating, and of course, making. These are the results.

The typical fablabber in 2017

Internationally, our typical fablabber is a young (27-year-old) man, university graduate, with a background in business or design. He identifies as a volunteer maker, working either for free or for a small fee under 1000€ per month. In France, the profile is pretty much the same (29-year-old man, BA or MA in IT) but he is paid between 1000€ and 2000€ per month.

Improved gender diversity, but not everywhere

Gender diversity (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte

First good news to come out of this survey: in France, the percentage of women working in fablabs has progressed from 15% in 2014 to 24.5% this year. We still have a ways to go, but at least it’s better than internationally, where the glass ceiling stagnates at 15%.

Generation Z on the rise

Pyramid of age demographics (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte

56% of people surveyed are under the age of 35. In France, 1988 is a good year for makers, as 11% of survey respondents were born that year, while internationally, one-third were born in 1990.

Big brains

Education level (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte

Almost 65% of those surveyed have at least a master’s degree.

Design, IT and art lead the way

While internationally, the fields of design and business dominate the profiles, in France, the majority of people working in a fablab have a background in IT (51%), followed by design (38%). All responses combined, design tops the list, followed by IT and cultural disciplines.

Skills distribution (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte

Stabilizing jobs

Fablab jobs are becoming increasingly more professional. Currently 75% of people working in a fablab in France are paid, compared to 50% in 2014. Internationally, volunteers abound, as only 55% of survey respondents declare being paid for their activity. Almost 64% claim to take home more than 1000€ per month and 44% have occupied their position for more than two years.

Monthly salary (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte
Seniority (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte

Cumulated mandates

Unsurprisingly, fabmanagers top the list of job titles (23.4%). Rarer are the digital inventors and prototypers (1.7% each), more common are the special assignment managers and project managers (10%). Many wear several hats, of fabmanager and founder (9.5%), director (3.5%) or entrepreneur maker (9.5%). The cloud of “others” includes animators, technicians, coordinators, trainers… There was even a “fab connector” and a sign-language translator.

Job title (out of 73 people in France and abroad, March 2017). © Pauline Comte

New professions, new functions

Professions related to mediation and community management are also emerging: mediators (4.3%), facilitators (6.9%), administrators (3.4%), community managers (8.6%).

While these professions, or more precisely these functions, are becoming increasingly visible in fablabs and other third spaces, they are sometimes hard to define. “What is facilitation? A subtle balance between animation of a community and a space, understanding of a technical environment, educational sensitivity and thematic awareness,” sums up the Faclab at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, which offers a university degree in facilitation.

Distribution of work hours

Finally, the majority of respondents devote one-fourth of their working hours to mediating activities and one-third to training. The rest of the time? To making, of course!

Originally published at on April 4, 2017.

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