Why One Should Consider a Career in Manufacturing


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Part-time employment in a low-paying field does not have to be your destiny. Mortgaging your future to enormous student loan debt, that may or may not assure you a job capable of paying off the loans, does not have to be your destiny, either.

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report on the earnings of new hires in manufacturing that documents how much better the earnings of new hires in manufacturing are compared with alternatives.

Why should one consider a career in manufacturing? The earnings are better, that’s why. According to the report, which analyzed quarterly workforce indicators data and validated it against the current population survey:
1. New hires in manufacturing enjoy an earnings premium relative to other new hires. This premium peaked during the recession, but has returned to near its pre-recession average. At the end of 2011, the manufacturing earnings premium for new hires stood at about 38 percent.
2. Since the recession began, real average earnings for new hires in manufacturing grew 5 percent, while earnings of incumbents in manufacturing grew about 2.4 percent. Over the same time, real earnings for hires in other industries were flat, and earnings for incumbents in other industries declined.
3. Over time, the earnings of new hires relative to incumbents have been consistently higher in manufacturing. From 2000 to 2011, the earnings of new hires were about 70 percent of incumbents’ earnings in manufacturing, compared with an average of 60 percent in other industries.

Earnings are better in manufacturing. That is important, but what about what it takes to get hired? Unlike jobs requiring a 4-year degree and the tens of thousands of dollars of college debt that most graduates owe ($35,200 is the latest average amount of student debt outstanding for recent grads we’ve seen), a skilled job in manufacturing can begin from earning an operator’s certificate from a local community college. Many of the new hires in precision machining found jobs during their first term of community college coursework. And many community colleges report that they have more open jobs posted on their bulletin boards than they have qualified students to fill.

CNC operators, multi-spindle machine operators, setup operators, grinders, quality control, lead men, estimators, process engineers, supervisors and engineering technicians are just a handful of the job titles that are available to grow into as part of a career in precision machining and manufacturing. Some people move from the shop to the office in purchasing, estimating, IT or CAD work.

Once on the job, opportunities to further one’s skills and education, and get additional training, are widely available. Many employers offer supplemental training through on the job programs, including employer-sponsored courses from Tooling U, machine builders and tuition reimbursement arrangements for continuing education.

A career in manufacturing offers challenging and worthwhile work using the latest technologies, including CNC machinery and CAD systems. You’ll also be involved with making products that are essential to everyday life: airplanes, automobiles, medical devices, appliances, electronics, and so on.

The chance to grow your education along with your career without debt by learning as you earn is a singular opportunity. To find out more about a career in precision machining: short.productionmachining.com/careerview

To find machining training programs near you: short.productionmachining.com/trainopps

To read the Department of Commerce report on earnings of new hires: short.productionmachining.com/newearning

— Precision Machined Products Association