Manufacturing Career


By: Felecia Brasfield

Companies and industries alike are evolving to attract talented workers, with the manufacturing industry being no exception. If you’re trying to decide how to grow your manufacturing career, several routes are open for you to accomplish this goal. 

The U.S. Manufacturing sector directly impacts the economy, so having quality jobs and workers is imperative. However, shifts in job opportunities and those looking to fill open positions have changed. There are around 56 million professionals who fall within the millennial age group, making them the largest generation of individuals working. With 87% of millennials saying that career development is a top priority, it’s no wonder growing your manufacturing career becomes a logical next step. 

Career Growth in Manufacturing 

There are many reasons for advancing career pathways. The changes within the manufacturing industry are providing more reasons and opportunities. Growth within such an essential industry allows job seekers to gain additional education, on-the-job training, and professional development. 

It’s a Growing Industry

Gradually more positions will be needed to keep up with industry demands in the future. The manufacturing industry is building back quickly, despite labor and supply-chain hurdles, according to Deloitte. 

Innovative Manufacturing Technology 

New technology platforms are integrated into the manufacturing industry, like robotics, automation, and advanced machine capabilities. Job seekers looking to expand their careers in manufacturing will need to learn new skill sets and new tools to manage these technologies. The good news is that many companies are amenable to supporting additional training for current and new employees. 

Freedom to Adapt and Expand 

New challenges bring on new growth opportunities. Some companies are more than willing to invest the time and resources needed to ‘upskill their employees. 

The need for labor standards, wages, and policies that span the entire workforce will create more quality jobs and more safety for individuals who work in this sector. 

Manufacturing Career Clusters

Jobs within the manufacturing sector require a unique set of skills depending on the specific industry in which an individual works. Manufacturing jobs, in general, facilitate processes where raw materials are transformed into products that are then sold. The manufacturing industry includes the line production workers but also engineering and management.

Some of the most common Manufacturing career pathways fall within six different categories. Each one has its unique job opportunities, which are continually evolving. The common ones are health and safety, logistics and inventory, installation and repair, process development, production, and quality assurance. 

Manufacturing Career Pathways 

There are numerous career pathways within the manufacturing industry, with new opportunities offered every year. Denise Ball, a Workforce Development Specialist at Tooling U-SME, discusses what’s needed to gain sustainability within the manufacturing sector. Key factors include access to talented job seekers and retention strategies for the current workforce. As a job seeker, there are some topics that the individual can focus on to help broaden horizons.

Advancements in Technology

These industrial technology advancements include 3D printing, robotics, airplanes, etc. “Making things such as robots, participating in maker camps, or working with 3D printing” are ways to engage with technology, according to Jose Anaya, Dean of Community Advancement at El Camino College in Los Angeles. By learning more about these new technology stacks, the individual realizes their importance within the industry and how it impacts their earning potential. 

Shifts in Salaries & Hourly Wages

Last year, workers in the manufacturing sector saw their wages slowly increase. Individuals who retained their jobs saw a 6% increase and pay. For those who are just coming into The industry, they are seeing a 6.8% increase in wages.

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Focus on Apprenticeship Programs

There are many ways in which experienced workers and students can gain new competencies in manufacturing. Traditional avenues such as two-year technical degrees and cooperative models are still solid choices. While apprenticeship programs have been around for decades within this industry, many companies are ramping up their availability. Some organizations have defined knowledge tracks in areas targeting electronics and engineering technology. 

Moving Forward 

As industry changes continue, companies will adjust roles, responsibilities, and career pathways to include new technology trends. Clearly defined development paths create a better understanding as job seekers learn new skills. While the future job market in manufacturing looks different, it’s made new opportunities for current workers and new employees evolve.  

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