At its core, manufacturing is about turning materials into products, or finished goods. Sometimes it’s about assembling various components into a finished device or item. It could also be taking those raw materials and breaking them down or modifying them for use in product design or installation. In a broad sense, manufacturing includes a range of industries, tasks and career opportunities as a result. Whether you’re working in engineering, bio-manufacturing, technology or something else entirely, there’s sure to be plenty of opportunities for growth and development.
Manufacturing also happens to be one of the largest sectors in the United States, contributing significantly to the nation’s economy. Manufacturing employs 8.7 percent of the U.S. population, which makes it the third-largest industry in the country regarding jobs and career growth. Unfortunately, many graduates and younger professionals tend to avoid the industry for unknown reasons. Maybe it seems boring or uninteresting? Maybe the pay isn’t considered suitable?
Whatever the case, we think it’s crucial to highlight some things you’ll want to know about the manufacturing. Some of these may change your impression of the industry or influence your decision altogether.
1. You See Your Work to the Bitter End
One of the biggest benefits of working in the manufacturing industry, especially for creatives, is that you get to work with tangible goods and see them to completion. Even working via an assembly line environment — which is not the only path to take in the industry — you still get to see the finished product at the end of the line. It requires patience, dedication and focus. There’s a special feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing you had your hand in the direct development and creation of beloved products. For all you know, you could be making the next big smartphone, children’s toy, gadget or fashion piece.
It’s difficult to explain the true sense of pleasure you get from simply proclaiming “I made that.”
2. You Will Need These Skills
It’s safe to say that every career or job opportunity out there has its own set of skills and abilities that are necessary for success. Manufacturing is no exception to that rule. What skills should you work on improving or growing? Some of the best skills to have or improve are critical thinking, collaboration and social engagement, STEM skills, problem-solving, knowledge flexibility and even foreign language. You don’t need to have every single one of these skills, and they don’t all need to be at an expert level, especially when you’re first starting. However, it’s always a good idea to have a core list to focus on.
3. It’s Safe and Engaging
Two common myths among those not involved in the industry are that it’s not generally safe, and that most of the work you’ll be doing is boring or uninspiring. Neither of these things is true. When it comes to safety, the history of manufacturing is dark. In the past, dangerous chemicals, machines and varying environmental hazards were rampant issues. Thanks to modern technology, legal and social standards, and better efficiency, the industry is safer and cleaner today. In fact, automation hardware and advanced robotics are making things even safer, by taking the more tedious and dangerous tasks from their human counterparts.
4. You Get to Work With Innovative Technologies and Hardware
Another misconception is that manufacturing involves working with outdated and ancient machines or hardware. That’s not the case at all. In fact, you are more likely to be working directly with innovative and commercially viable hardware that no one else ever has. New tech like IoT, 3-D printing and additive manufacturing, drones, and even robotics are being adopted every day. Many of the tech is deployed or used before it sees the public eye. That makes the industry especially lucrative for anyone who loves technology or gadgets. Throw tinkering and development into the mix, and you have a veritable digital heaven for modern techies.
5. Opportunities Abound
Sadly, not long after you graduate, you’ll end up taking a job where you’ll be spending the next few years, maybe even longer. Right out of the gate, there isn’t always the potential to grow or move up in your industry. That’s not true in manufacturing. There’s so much room to grow in all directions. You can also hop industries, going from welding to research to distribution in a short time. Add in the fact that older generations like the baby boomers are soon retiring, and you’ll find even more opportunities. Plus, you don’t have to work with production and development specifically. In the manufacturing industry, there are also sales and marketing, human resources, and management opportunities. They need someone with manufacturing experience, yet don’t require you to have hands-on experience with the machines in question.
In other words, there’s something for everyone.
6. Helping the Community
To some, this is the most important and most rewarding aspect of any career opportunity. How are you giving back to your community and country on a personal level? The manufacturing industry is one of the most influential in our local economy, and in the rest of the world, too. It has an immense impact on jobs, personal and societal livelihoods, and the overall state of the economy. Research ranks manufacturing as one of the most important industries in the nation. Being as it’s directly responsible for the modern standard of living and many goods and services we use today, there’s no contest.
When you enter the manufacturing industry you are making a difference, and that always feels good — whether you’re young or old.
Manufacturing Offers Promising Career Opportunities for Just About Everyone
The list of opportunities in the industry is seemingly endless, although that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have an easy go of it. You still need to focus on the skills and abilities discussed above, and you must also be willing to put in the time. There are plenty of benefits to be had for entering the industry, especially if you’re looking to start your own manufacturing business.