A Positive Outlook for Manufacturing Careers

The biggest employer in the U.S. goods-producing industries supersector, manufacturing is a large, interdisciplinary industry that encompasses a diverse range of sectors. Its primary focus is the production of goods from raw or intermediary materials and components, mostly at an industrial scale. The North American Industry Classification System defines manufacturing as “the sector (which) comprises establishments engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products.” This may include everything from industrial mills, plants, and factories to small-scale bakeries and artisanal cheese producers.

Because the U.S. is well into the postindustrial phase of its economy, the past few decades have seen a major shift in focus from manufacturing to services. While this seems to indicate that growth in the manufacturing sector has come to a standstill, recent developments prove otherwise.

According to an Institute for Supply Management report released late September, manufacturing activity in the U.S. has grown at a pace faster than any seen since April of 2011. Market predictions made early this year were murky thanks to sluggish economic growth overseas, a slowing demand for goods, and fiscal austerity; however, demands for furniture, auto parts, steel, and appliances have gone up, bolstering hopes that the manufacturing sector is at last recovering its footing after a shaky start. This has resulted in the creation of new manufacturing jobs and a surge in nationwide production.

All this is good news for engineers, machinists, operation controllers, logistics workers, and other professionals currently in or seeking out manufacturing careers. Manufacturing jobs have begun to open up nationwide in industrial production settings as well as in offices, workshops, and laboratories. Openings for the following positions may be expected in the coming months: industrial engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, materials engineer, electrical engineer, health and safety engineer, engineering manager, and other job titles that fall under the umbrella of manufacturing.

Responsibilities associated with manufacturing jobs include handling supply and distribution logistics, operating industrial tools and machinery, designing and modifying materials and processes, researching materials specifications, and developing new products for manufacturing.2 These roles are crucial in every stage of manufacturing.

All manufacturing careers require a certain measure of technical knowledge and problem-solving abilities. Attributes favorable to a successful long-term career in manufacturing include close attention to detail; strong organization and coordination skills; a knack for ensuring consistency, quality, and cost-effectiveness; and a respect for safety standards and procedures.

While many manufacturing jobs do not require more than a bachelor’s degree in engineering or any related field, an advanced degree such as an online Master of Industrial Engineering can be of use to workers looking to move from the factory floor to the higher levels of manufacturing. Ongoing education in technology operations, administrative and management services, and current industry trends can go a long way toward advancing a career in manufacturing.

With manufacturing in the U.S. currently on the mend, now is a strategic time for professionals to gain a much-needed competitive edge. Learn more about the Lawrence Technological University online Master of Industrial Engineering program by clicking here.