Introduction to Manufacturing Jobs and Careers


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The economy sucks and is getting worse. People are losing their jobs left and right. What are recesssion- or future-proof jobs -- here in the United States and around the world? How about jobs in the Manufacturing sector? How do they compare with other sectors -- and what are future prospects for Manufacturing and Industrial jobs and careers?

We will attempt to offer you no-bullshit advice on job-hunting in the Manufacturing sector...

“Manufacturing” covers a wide range of industries, including food, beverage, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, textiles, lumber, tobacco, automobiles, aerospace, and petrochemicals. In manufacturing, there are two types of goods produced: durable and nondurable. Durable goods have a long life span and hold up over time; examples of durable goods are cars, airplanes, and washing machines. Nondurable goods have a shorter life span and include such products as food, cosmetics, and clothing.

One of the most promising segments of the manufacturing work- force is engineering. Engineers’ work focuses on research, development, analysis, planning, survey, application, facility evaluation, and more. They may manage a staff or manage projects from start to finish. Those responsible for research and development refine the production process and make recommendations to their companies based on their research findings. Engineers work with computers, in robotics development and implementation, and plant safety. Technicians, who work closely with and assist engineers in manufacturing, help to execute various projects by conducting research, running tests, and fulfilling other duties.

Today, there are a declining number of manufacturing jobs, and the jobs that exist are less viable than they were 10 or 20 years ago. One reason for the decline in domestic manufacturing is that many factories continue to relocate to foreign countries with lower labor and material costs. As a result, labor unions have lost some of their strength to negotiate for better contracts and wages for manufacturing workers. The other key reason for the continuing decrease in factory jobs is automation. To cut labor costs, manufacturers are replacing much of their labor force with robotics-based machinery. In many cases, these machines are more efficient and productive than human workers. In order to remain competitive, many companies are striving to become even more automated, which will in turn eliminate even more jobs. However, while many assembly line jobs will disappear, the demand for engineers—the individuals who program, install, and maintain the automated machinery—should be strong.

Textile and apparel manufacturing is projected to decline more than any other manufacturing industry through 2014, due primarily to increasing imports. However, pharmaceutical manufacturing is one industry segment that is expected to show healthy employment growth. A growing population, particularly among the elderly, and the frequent introduction of new drugs, medicinals, and botanicals to the public will continue to bolster the pharmaceutical market.

Each article in this guide discusses in detail a particular occupation in the manufacturing field. The articles have been updated and revised with the latest information from the U.S. Department of Labor, professional organizations, and other sources. The following paragraphs detail the sections and features that appear in this guide.

The QUICK FACTS section provides a brief summary of the career including recommended school subjects, personal skills, work environment, minimum educational requirements, salary ranges, certification or licensing requirements, and employment outlook. This section also provides acronyms and identification numbers for the following government classification indexes: the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the Guide for Occupational Exploration (GOE), the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Index, and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) Occupational Classification System (SOC) index. The DOT, GOE, and O indexes have been created by the U.S. government; the NOC index is Canada’s career-classification system. Readers can use the identification numbers listed in the QUICK FACTS section to access further information about a career. Print editions of the DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Indianapolis, Ind.: JIST Works, 1991) and GOE (Guide for Occupational Exploration. Indianapolis, Ind.: JIST Works, 2001) are available at libraries. Electronic versions of the NOC (http://www23.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca) and O*NET (http://online.onetcenter.org) are available on the Internet. When no DOT, GOE, NOC, or O*NET numbers are present, this means that the U.S. Department of Labor or Human Resources Development Canada have not created a numerical designation for this career. In this instance, you will see the acronym “N/A,” or not available.

The Overview section is a brief introductory description of the duties and responsibilities involved in this career. Oftentimes, a career may have a variety of job titles. When this is the case, alternative career titles are presented. Employment statistics are also provided, when available. The History section describes the history of the particular job as it relates to the overall development of its industry or field. The Job describes the primary and secondary duties of the job. Requirements discusses high school and postsecondary education and training requirements, any certification or licensing that is necessary, and other personal requirements for success in the job. Exploring offers suggestions on how to gain experience in or knowledge of the particular job before making a firm educational and financial commitment. The focus is on what can be done while still in high school (or in the early years of college) to gain a better understanding of the job. The Employers section gives an overview of typical places of employment for the job. Starting Out discusses the best ways to land that first job, be it through the college career services office, newspaper ads, Internet employment sites, or personal contact. The Advancement section describes what kind of career path to expect from the job and how to get there. Earnings lists salary ranges and describes the typical fringe benefits. The Work Environment section describes the typical surroundings and conditions of employment—whether indoors or outdoors, noisy or quiet, social or independent. Also discussed are typical hours worked, any seasonal fluctuations, and the stresses and strains of the job. The Outlook section summarizes the job in terms of the general economy and industry projections. For the most part, Outlook information is obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and is supplemented by information gathered from professional associations. Job growth terms follow those used in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Growth described as “much faster than the average” means an increase of 27 percent or more. Growth described as “faster than the average” means an increase of 18 to 26 percent. Growth described as “about as fast as the average” means an increase of 9 to 17 percent. Growth described as “more slowly than the average” means an increase of 0 to 8 percent. “Decline” means a decrease by any amount. Each article ends with For More Information, which lists organizations that provide information on training, education, internships, scholarships, and job placement.

This guide also includes photographs, informative sidebars, and interviews with professionals in the field.

Manufacturing Jobs and Careers:

  1. Introduction


  2. Aerospace Engineers


  3. Automotive Industry Workers


  4. Manufacturing Cost Estimators


  5. Glass Manufacturing Workers




  6. Industrial Designers


  7. Industrial Engineers


  8. Industrial Machinery Mechanics


  9. Industrial Safety and Health Technicians


  10. Machine Tool Operators


  11. Manufacturing Supervisors


  12. Mechanical Engineering Technicians


  13. Mechanical Engineers


  14. Millwrights


  15. Numerical Control Tool Programmers


  16. Packaging Engineers


  17. Pharmaceutical Production Workers


  18. Plastics Products Manufacturing Workers


  19. Quality Control Engineers and Technicians


  20. Sporting Goods Production Workers


  21. Toy Industry Workers

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