The Manufacturing Industry is a very large and diverse industry that includes a variety of sectors, companies and professionals.
Professionals in manufacturing may work in factory or industrial production settings, laboratories, workshops and offices. Other fields may require vocational training programs or experience learning skilled work relevant to the sector.
What is manufacturing?
Manufacturing is the production of goods or products from raw materials, using machines, tools and bio-chemical modification. Most manufacturing occurs at large-scale industrial production where goods and products such as food and beverage products, electronic equipment, construction and paper products, pharmaceutical materials and parts for vehicles and machinery are produced.
Manufacturing careers can be found in many industries from food to textiles to equipment, furniture, electronics and more. The duties of manufacturing jobs are varied too, with some people assembling goods, some painting, upholstering or otherwise covering merchandise and others involved in quality control, inspecting products for flaws and making sure the goods meet set standards.
Manufacturing Job Market
Although there is an ongoing need for manufactured goods, manufacturing careers are on the decline. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) details a projected deceleration in manufacturing jobs over the next few years, citing automation and importing goods as the major causes for job loss in the manufacturing industry.
That’s not to say that there won’t be any growth in manufacturing, as some manufacturing sectors are expected to have more job growth than others. On the average, manufacturing jobs are expected to grow by only four percent by 2022, with machinist jobs and quality control inspectors increasing six to seven percent.
The top two occupations in manufacturing are team assemblers and machinists. The third most populous occupation, which may be thought of as quality control employees includes
- Logistics workers
- Operation controllers
- Delivery drivers
- Crafts workers
Typically a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement for most types of manufacturing jobs. Much of the knowledge and skills needed is learned on the job.
Training lasts anywhere from one month up to two years, depending on the type of work being done. Tool and die makers and machinists require the most training because of the expertise needed.
Vocational schools and technical colleges offer certification programs that provide the training. Machinists and tool and die makers then go on to serve apprenticeships before they’re considered fully trained.
Manufacturing employees may seek voluntary certifications from credentialing organizations, including the American Society for Quality (ASQ). These certifications, while not required, may enhance employment and advancement opportunities. For example, quality control inspectors may seek to be certified by the ASQ as a Certified Quality Inspector. Certification requirements include a GED or high school diploma, two years of experience and the passage of a certification exam.
Prospective candidates may enter the manufacturing field after completing high school. These new hires may receive on-the-job training on handling power tools, assembling parts and using specific quality-control instruments to verify dimensions. Additionally, new employees may participate in employer-sponsored classroom assignments on topics ranging from occupational safety to assembly line controls.
Some positions may ask for postsecondary education. For example, inspectors may benefit from having earned a certificate in computer-aided design. These 6-12 month programs may include instruction on design setup, scaling and modification. Similarly, machinists may be required to have completed a 2-year associate’s degree program or 4-year apprenticeship. Apprentices may receive training on reading mechanical drawings, setting up equipment and operating specialized machinery, such as CNC machines.
Manufacturing careers pay fairly well, considering they don’t require extensive education. Different types of manufacturing jobs pay more, some pay less, but on the average the annual income is between $28,580 and $39,500 for full-time work.
Quality control inspector’s fall somewhere in the middle with a median hourly wage of $16.57, according to the BLS. Working full-time hours that works out to $34,465 per year.