It’s time to change your perception about manufacturing careers
Five years ago, in a blog article, we extolled the many benefits of manufacturing careers. What was true then is still true today. Manufacturers use the latest technology, provide opportunities for growth, pay well, and jobs are plentiful.
Perceptions about manufacturing careers have also improved over the last few years. The Manufacturing Institutes’ 2022 Manufacturing Perception Study revealed that parents are more likely to encourage the next generation to pursue a career in manufacturing. More Americans now also believe that manufacturing jobs are creative, innovative, and use problem solving skills.
Yet, it’s also true that perceptions about manufacturing careers – while improved – have not caught up to reality. Consider a finding from the manufacturing perception study:
Even as domestic manufacturing is viewed as increasingly important to the economy, public perceptions of manufacturing are not in line with the current reality. For instance, many Americans are not aware of the increasingly high-tech nature of manufacturing, which is improving employee productivity and providing cutting-edge, transferable skills.
The reality of manufacturing careers, however, is impressive. Consider the following:
- Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million Americans, making it one of the largest sectors of the economy in terms of jobs.
- Over the next decade, four million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2.1 million are expected to go unfilled. Thousands of positions are available right now.
- Manufacturing jobs offer opportunities for good pay, additional training, and career advancement.
- Manufacturers have one of the highest percentages of workers who are eligible for health benefits. Ninety-one percent of manufacturing employees were eligible for health insurance benefits in 2022 – significantly higher than the 78% average for all companies.
- The manufacturing industry provides stable and secure careers. The average tenure of workers in manufacturing jobs is the highest among all private sector industries at 5.2 years.
Sources: Manufacturing Institute: Facts About Manufacturing | NAM and Bureau of Labor Statistics: Industries at a Glance: Manufacturing: NAICS 31‐33 : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)
Opportunities in Manufacturing
Many people may not realize that manufacturing offers robust career paths, numerous types of jobs, and multiple ways to get hired.
A career path is simply a sequence of jobs that helps employees meet their short-and long-term career goals. Career paths common in manufacturing include production, maintenance, installation and repair, health, safety, and environmental assurance, logistics and inventory control, manufacturing production processes, and quality assurance.
Career paths only hint at the variety of specific jobs available in the manufacturing sector, however. Job opportunities include not only the obvious production line workers and machine operators, but also maintenance technicians, inventory/supply chain coordinators, and logistics/shipping specialists.
Other types of jobs available in manufacturing tend to be overlooked. These include positions in information technology, health/safety, compliance, and quality control, as well project management, research/development, human resources, training, finance, marketing, and supervisory positions.
How to Get a Job in Manufacturing
There are many ways to begin a manufacturing career. Some people pursue a degree in a field of study related to manufacturing. Relevant degrees include engineering (mechanical or materials), operations management, information technology, quality management, and industrial design.
However, a four-year degree is not necessarily required to get a job in manufacturing. Some people leverage a two-year degree in a field such as manufacturing technology or computer-aided design to obtain their first position. Others begin on the assembly line and work their way up to other positions.
There are also an increasing number of internships and apprenticeships available for high school and college students interested in manufacturing. Simplex, for example, is currently participating in two such programs.
One program is facilitated by GPS Education Partners who work with both high schools and companies. In this program, a high school student interns with Simplex for the school year. They are paid and work a few hours in the afternoon. They work/train/shadow in all areas of the company for the first semester. During the second semester the student picks a specific area to focus on. Once the school year is over, the program is complete.
The second program, The Project Hire-Ed Apprenticeship Program, is accredited by the Illinois Department of Labor and offered through the College of DuPage. Through this program Simplex pays for two years of tuition at the college. The student, who is paid, works for Simplex while also going to school. After graduation, the student is required to work at Simplex for two years.
A Change of View
In our previous article, three Simplex employees – Gordon Merry, Grant Miazga and Chris Janiec talked about their careers and the misperceptions that people have about manufacturing careers.
Gordon Merry – General Manager. People assume everyone who works in manufacturing is blue collar, not educated or intelligent. They think everyone is a laborer – not able or willing to do anything else. What they don’t realize is that there are many types of jobs in manufacturing including “white collar” positions that require degrees and education.
Grant Miazga – Quality Control Manager. A lot of people think that you just stand at a conveyor belt for hours a day. When they hear the word factory they imagine a sweat shop – a place that is loud and dirty. They assume that there is no room to grow or move ahead. This could not be further from the truth.
Chris Janiec– Project Manager. Manufacturing isn’t glorified in the media like other professions. It’s not necessarily “flashy” – a lot happens behind the scenes. I also think people have a perception that you can’t have a good career unless you have a college degree. That’s just not the case.
Do not overlook the many good career opportunities available in manufacturing. Learn more about manufacturing job titles, duties, and training here or perhaps consider joining our team at Simplex. We have opportunities for individuals who are eager to learn and have a passion for producing a superior product. Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook. Browse open positions on our career page or call us at 630-766-8401 for a personal tour of our modern manufacturing facility.
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