Top 5 Reasons to Consider a Career in Manufacturing

By JDP Search Group

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October 3rd, 2014 marked the 3rd annual ‘Manufacturing Day’ and this year’s event was bigger and better than ever before. President Barrack Obama even gave his support by issuing a presidential proclamation declaring October 3rd, 2014 National Manufacturing Day.

The aim of the event is to “address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t.”

To add to the work they’re doing, I thought I’d add my top 5 reasons to consider a career in manufacturing.

Access a diverse range of opportunities

With over 17.4 million jobs in the manufacturing sector in the U.S. the sheer range of roles on offer is staggering. The old image of production lines and overalls is no longer the norm. With the influx of technology and growth, the industry has adapted and grown into a diverse sector with all manner of roles. Nowadays, it’s not all shop floor jobs and engineering. If you’re the inventive type you might want to work in prototyping, developing the products of the future. Alternatively, if you’re less practical and are better in an office, there’s still a place for you. You could consider working as an HR professional, or if you’re creative you might want to explore working in marketing, ensuring that customers find out about your company’s range of products. Whatever your skills, manufacturing needs you and there’s never been a better time to get involved.

There is a widespread skills shortage

The manufacturing sector is desperately in need of skilled workers. A 2011 skills gap report from the National Association of Manufacturers shows that 67% of employers reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers and this looks set to get worse in the coming years. A recent report from showed that 80% of the current manufacturing workforce is between the ages of 45 and 65. With 1/3 between 55 and 64 years old and starting to look towards retirement, manufacturing is facing a ticking time bomb if we don’t encourage young people to get into it now.

Pete Selleck, president and chairman of Michelin North America said during a keynote address in 2013 that unfortunately "very few students in school aspire to work in manufacturing." In South Carolina (where the tyre manufacturer's North American headquarters is located), manufacturing disappointingly ranked 14th out of 16 curriculum choices. This is something that needs to change if we are to develop a sustainable and thriving economy.

Higher than average earnings

According to an OECD study the average earnings for workers in the U.S. stands at $54,450 a year. In comparison workers within the manufacturing sector earn on average $77,000 a year. In addition, 90% of manufacturing workers receive medical benefits and have the highest job tenure in the private sector. If that wasn’t enough, with every $1 of goods produced, manufacturing generates an additional $1.43 for the economy, so whilst you’re earning money, you’re effectively giving back to the economy too which has obvious positive outcomes.

Opportunities for career progression

With skills shortages increasing, once you have your foot in the door of the manufacturing sector there are many opportunity to progress and grow. Employers tend to be more dynamic in terms of training from within than other sectors and accredited qualifications that you can do whilst in employment are on the rise. There are also a wealth of qualifications that you can do outside of work, if you see an area for development. With the aforementioned skills shortages, I’ve also noticed employers being more flexible in the level of experience and qualifications that they are expecting so there’s never been a better time to apply for roles that you may have previously thought were slightly out of your reach.         

Create something tangible

Unlike the swathes of service industry roles where the fruits of your labour are merely numbers or ideas, working in manufacturing allows you to create something tangible. There’s nothing better than seeing a product develop through the prototype stage and on to production. There’s something truly satisfying about being a part of that process and in getting a product to market. Whether you’re behind the scenes or on the shop floor, you’ll have played an integral role in creating something worthwhile.


Contributed by John Palcisko, President of JDP Search Group, who are specialist Manufacturing & Engineering recruiters in the US. Reach out to see how they can help you to hire outstanding candidates or find your next manufacturing role, by phone 216-661-5996 or on twitter @JDPsearch


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