Manufacturing jobs are occupations that create many new products from either raw materials or components. Many of these jobs are in factories, plants and mills both here and abroad.
Professionals who work in manufacturing often are in management and supervisory positions, and are responsible for ensuring that the manufacturing and production schedule is adhered to so that the company makes a profit. The focus in this profession is to create products as fast and as inexpensively as possible and in the quantities needed.
With a degree in manufacturing, you will be responsible for ensuring that manufacturing processes are working as efficiently as possible so that they company can earn money and stay competitive with other companies in the same industry.
Manufacturing and production professionals in the 21st century are skilled employees who are able to ensure that the company is keeping up with the demand for products and producing them in a way that a suitable profit can be earned.
What Is Manufacturing?
As technology is improving, manufacturing is changing, and so are the jobs that are needed in the field. As production of goods is improved in manufacturing processes, it is possible that the number of manufacturing jobs will drop. But the jobs that are still available are paid higher, and this is the case for professionals with a manufacturing degree.
Some of the trends in technology that are leading to advances in manufacturing that you will may work on in your career include:
- Nanotechnology, which is creating new generations of microelectronics that are growing in demand across the world.
- Lighter steel, aluminum and carbon fibers that are making vehicles lighter and consume less fuel.
- Bioengineering that is allowing for more pharmaceuticals to be customized for individuals.
- 3D printing that creates product prototypes by combining tiny particles rather than traditional stamping or casting. These processes are being used more often to manufacture aerospace components.
- Robots are becoming more intricate and sophisticated.
- Big data is being used more often today to analyze consumer trends and to show companies how to create better products that more people want.
There are limited opportunities in some manufacturing fields in America today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS the employment of industrial production managers, which is related to manufacturing, is going to show little to no growth in the coming years. Many such managers are working in many manufacturing industries in America, and there is a trend of outsourcing these jobs to areas of the world with lower costs.
However, there are some manufacturing jobs that are being brought back to the US as some companies are moving to cheaper areas in the southern US with no union representation.
There are also some manufacturing jobs that cannot be easily outsourced. Food is still heavily manufactured in the US, which includes bakeries and confectioneries. Also, there are good prospects for manufacturing jobs in sectors that produce complex products that require extensive R&D.
One area with some growth is for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives. These professionals with a manufacturing degree background sell products to manufacturers and wholesalers. It is anticipated that this field will see a 6% increase in jobs by 2026, which is about as fast as average. Employment should be even stronger for companies that work at independent sales organizations. More of these activities are being outsourced to independent companies to increase revenue and reduce costs.
Another possible area for career opportunities is operations manager. These professionals are responsible for monitoring and managing operational costs. They also handle vital decisions on compensation, hiring, promotions, discipline and supervising department and company operations. This field should see 7% to 9% job growth in the next several years.
It is estimated by BLS that there are 1.5 million wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives in the country as of 2016 in these industries:
- Merchant wholesalers and durable goods: 29%
- Merchant wholesalers: 19%
- Wholesale electronic markets: 17%
- Manufacturing: 15%
- Retail trade: 4%
There are approximately 170,000 industrial production manager jobs in the US presently in these industries:
- Transportation equipment manufacturing: 11%
- Fabricated metal product manufacturing: 10%
- Chemical manufacturing: 8%
- Machinery manufacturing: 7%
- Food manufacturing: 7%
BLS reports that industrial production managers earn a median salary of $97,100 with a range between $58,600 and $165,400. Median pay by industry is as follows:
- Chemical manufacturing: $105,600
- Transportation equipment manufacturing: $101,000
- Machinery manufacturing: $96,600
- Food manufacturing: $90,600
- Fabricated metal product manufacturing: $90,200
The median wage for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives was $57,100 with a range between $27,500 and $121,000. Wages per industry were as follows:
- Wholesale electronic markets: $64,600
- Manufacturing: $60,600
- Merchant wholesalers: $55,100
- Retail trade: $51,000
A bachelor’s degree in manufacturing management can assist you in getting started in a career in manufacturing or make you more eligible for a promotion into management. Students who earn this degree can earn an entry level or mid level position in lean manufacturing, distribution, materials planning, production management, project engineering and distribution. You may take courses in areas such as applied engineering basics, lean six sigma, applied quality, managerial finance and organizational behavior.
A master’s degree in manufacturing can be a good idea if you want to move into an upper level management position in a manufacturing organization. Some of the possible topics you may study in a graduate level program are process modeling, intelligent manufacturing, simulation, production modeling and monitoring and product development.
To be admitted for a master’s program in manufacturing and related fields, you will need to have qualifications such as:
- GPA of 2.75 or higher in undergraduate work
- GMAT or GRE scores may be needed
- Updated resume
- Letters of recommendation
- Prerequisite courses
- Writing samples
At Georgia Tech, you can earn an online master’s degree in manufacturing leadership with courses in the following critical areas:
- Supply chain management
- Leadership and organizational behavior
- Manufacturing reliability
- Quality control and lean manufacturing
- Principles of management
- Foundational and emerging technologies
When you complete a degree in manufacturing, it will be an endeavor that will cost a considerable amount of money. To help you with this expense, you may be able to find scholarships and grants that can assist with the cost. Here are some possible financial aid programs that may be a benefit:
- Chief Executives Network for Manufacturing Scholarship: $1000
- Conductix-Wampfler Scholarship for Tool and Die: Various amounts
- Wayne Kay Scholarships: Various amounts
- KD Delta Educational Scholarship: $1000
- NTMA Brock Babb Memorial Scholarship $1000
- Shell Oil Scholarship Opportunities for High School Seniors: $2500
- SME Education Foundation: Various amounts
Professionals in manufacturing often earn certifications in Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. These certifications can be earned through a variety of consulting organizations, as well as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing enhances the quality of manufacturing and marketing by leading to as few manufacturing errors as possible. There are two levels of certification – green belt and black belt.
Professionals who work in manufacturing can enhance their career prospects by belonging to a variety of industry groups and associations. Below are some of the most popular ones that can be useful to boosting your career in terms of educating and networking:
- National Association of Manufacturers
- Council of Manufacturing Associations
- Association for Manufacturing Excellence
- Association for Manufacturing Technology
- Fabricators and Manufacturers Association
There are still solid manufacturing management positions available in the US that you can obtain with a degree in manufacturing. With this degree, you will have plenty of solid job prospects for years to come.
- Manufacturing Jobs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/manufacturing-jobs-examples-types-and-changes-3305941
- Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/wholesale-and-manufacturing-sales-representatives.htm#tab-6