Huge demand, diverse industries, career growth potential
Watch video: 4 Myths About Manufacturing
Artificial intelligence, robotics, luxury cars. Sound interesting? Welcome to modern manufacturing, which touches industries ranging from medical technology to aerospace. If you want to get into a field with huge demand, a wide range of jobs, and a focus on technology, then manufacturing could be right for you.

What is Manufacturing?

"Manufacturing no longer needs legions of trainable employees that specialize in a single skill. The prevalence of computer‐controlled demands manufacturing workers that possess a combination of math skills, intuition, stamina."
Justin Guinn, content analyst

When you hear "manufacturing" you might think: loud machinery, assembly lines, danger. And that used to be true. But the face of manufacturing has changed. These days, robots have replaced much manual labor and, for many positions, you're more likely to reach for your digital toolbox than a wrench.

Old World New World
Learning one or two specific technical roles Mechanical reasoning, logic trouble shooting, and spatial visualization
Physical strength and flexibility Personal flexibility, communication, and cooperation
Ability to follow fixed, unchanging procedures Initiative, persistance, and independence
General attention to production and safety procedures Attention to detail, self-control, and dependability
Following orders Making independent decisions
Operating, maintaining, designing mechanical machinery Operating computers or computerized machinery and using computers for a wide range of critical functions

Modern manufacturing jobs can involve everything from operating computers to troubleshooting mechanical problems. What they have in common are skills like: comfort with technology, logical troubleshooting, and attention to detail.

Why Manufacturing?

Growing demand

Forget what you've heard: automation isn't replacing human workers, but changing the skills they need. Demand in manufacturing is huge and growing.

currently open, unfilled manufacturing jobs in America as of Aug 2018.
jobs expected to open in the next 10 years (with 2 million that may go unfilled given the skills of the current labor pool).
new manufacturing jobs are projected in Oregon alone by 2024

Higher salary, better benefits

Wages in manufacturing are typically 27% higher than comparable‐level jobs in other sectors, and are much more likely to have health insurance and retirement benefits.

Oregon Manufacturing Jobs

Entry‐level role: Assembler $17/hour
Mid‐level role: Machine Operator $20/hour
Upper‐mid‐level role: Machinist $24/hour
Specialist roles: Engineering Technician Up to $44/hour

Diverse career paths

Manufacturing touches almost every industry—aerospace, computer, transportation—and a huge variety of positions—assembly, operations, quality control. Whatever your interests, there's a manufacturing job to match. And it's not just large corporations either. Many small and medium‐sized business offer opportunities as well.

Job Description
Assembler Assemblers and fabricators put together pieces of products, and also assemble finished products. They use their hands, as well as tools and machines. Most assemblers and fabricators work in manufacturing plants.
Welder Welders, solderers, cutters, and brazers use equipment to cut and/or join metal parts. These positions require an eye for detail, the ability to operate equipment, and the ability to read blueprints and diagrams.
Machinist Machinists and tool and die makers set up, maintain, and operate computer and mechanically‐operated machines that are used to create parts for the manufacturing process.
Production Manager Production managers oversee the day‐to‐day operations at manufacturing plants. They ensure that production stays on schedule, they hire and manage workers, and they fix any production problems.
Quality Control Inspector Quality control inspectors examine materials and products for any hazards, defects, or deviations. They generally work in manufacturing plants, inspecting products.
"You could be helping build a luxury vehicle, developing the latest in food manufacturing, or creating lifesaving medical devices."
— Alicia Chan, Workforce Solutions

Career growth potential

Many manufacturing companies are actively recruiting young people, viewing them as more comfortable with new technology. Add in the fact that manufacturing employers are more likely to promote from within and offer on‐the‐job training and manufacturing offers lots of growth potential.

"It's great to have people who grew up with computers enter manufacturing because they will have a more high‐bandwidth, data‐driven approach."
Greg Mark, CEO MFG Jobs

Is Manufacturing right for me?

There are so many diverse opportunities across manufacturing, that there's probably a position that's right for you. Ask yourself:

  • Do you like working with machines and technology?
  • Do you like the troubleshooting problems?
  • Do you find satisfaction in creating something tangible?
  • Do you want a position that offers training and growth potential?

See what it's like to live a day in the life of a Prototype Fabricator, Manufacturing Engineer, or Mechanical Engineer.

How would I get started in Manufacturing?

Once you've decided which industry to target, start your manufacturing career with a certificate or degree from a trade school. This will give you the hands‐on, practical training that employers want to see from job applicants and can help you advance faster in your career.

Apprenticeship Certificate/Diploma Associate's Degree
Cost $1,400/year $2,200‐$3,500 $12,000‐$20,000
Length 1 year 3 months+ 1‐2 years
  • Get on‐the‐job training
  • Less expensive
  • Enter the workforce quickly
  • Gain a competitive edge over certificate holders
  • Pre‐requisite for advanced positions like welder inspector
  • Less common, harder to find
  • Cost/time off work
  • Cost/time off work
  • Start your career in an entry‐level position
  • Start your career in an entry‐level position
  • Start your career at a mid‐level position
  • Be positioned for faster advancement

Ready to get started?

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More Manufacturing FAQs

Read up on welding, CNC machining, and industrial maintenance to see if these specialties could be right for you.

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