Manufacturing Career Paths
Manufacturing career paths include jobs inside and outside the plant. In today’s supply chain environment, these positions are changing rapidly and providing a lot of career growth and opportunity. Manufacturing jobs produce goods and services across wide ranges of industries. Most every industry relies on manufacturing of some sort to produce, house, maintain, and repair goods or allocate services.
While some of these careers can be attained via specialized job boards, the higher end leadership and c-suite positions should be sought with the help of manufacturing recruiters and executive search firms.
Manufacturing Career Paths: Inside the Plant
Career paths inside the plant include:
- Production Line Workers: (Hourly wages)
- Quality Control Technicians ($38K – $50K per year)
- Engineers ($66K – $115K per year)
- Maintenance Technicians ($49K – $90K per year)
- Logistics and Supply Chain Managers ($101,800 – $130,500)
Production Line Workers:
Production line workers assemble and package products in a manufacturing plant. Their assembly line work includes attaching parts, inspecting products, and operating machinery. People who work in this role need attention to detail, safety training, and above average hand-eye coordination.
Quality Control Technicians:
The job of quality control technicians is to ensure that products meet quality standards set by the manufacturer. Product inspection, durability testing, reliability monitoring, and ensuring they comply with safety regulations are just some of the roles quality control techs perform. Individuals who pursue this career path should have a strong attention to detail, excellent communication skills, and knowledge of industry-specific quality standards.
Engineers inside manufacturing plants literally keep the lights on and the wheels turning. They play a crucial role ensuring proper and adequate layout of the space along with the product optimizations. When engineers aren’t developing new products, they’re using technical expertise, skills, and materials knowledge to come up with new and creative solutions to manufacturing problems.
Ensuring that machinery and equipment inside the plant are running at optimal speed and performance is the main role for maintenance technicians. Maintenance techs are required to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained. They also need the ability to diagnose and repair said equipment, as needed. It’s also essential that safety standards are met and followed at all times while performing this job. To work in this role, you should have a robust understanding of machinery and equipment, heightened problem solving skills, and the ability to thrive under pressure.
Logistics and Supply Chain Managers:
Logistics and supply chain managers control inventory, transportation and distribution processes. They work side by side with production and sales teams, making sure that all manufactured products are delivered on time. Their primary objective is to ensure that productions are delivered to customers on time in the most cost effective way possible.
Manufacturing Career Paths: Outside the Plant
- Supply Chain Manager ($81K – $104K per year)
- Logistics Coordinator ($30K – $52K per year)
- Quality Assurance Manager ($104K – $132K per year)
- Technical Sales Engineer ($82K – $105K per year)
- Manufacturing Engineer ($83K – $93K per year)
Supply Chain Manager:
Supply chain managers oversee the acquisition of raw materials and produced goods from the source to the customer. In other words, they line up the things needed to build the widget and figure out how to get the widget to the end user. They also plan and forecast demand and design inventory levels and transportation logistics accordingly. Supply chain managers need a high proficiency level in communication skills, the ability to quickly think critically and strategically and a thorough training and understanding of supply chain management best practices.
Logistics coordinators help to get things through the supply chain while also tracking shipment progress. They manage flow of goods and materials, coordinate transportation, track shipments and monitor inventory levels. People in these roles should be highly organized and able to work under pressure and tight deadlines. This also requires a strong understanding of logistics best practices.
Quality Assurance Manager:
Quality assurance managers make sure products live up to the expectations of the customers. Is the quality of the product as advertised? Duties in this role include the development and implementation of quality control measures. Quality assurance managers also have to analyze data which identify areas for improvement and be able to use trends to predict where things might go wrong. These managers work closely with other departments to address quality issues. Excellent analytical skills are needed for this role as well as a heightened sense of collaboration in order to properly communicate what needs to be done when in order to control for quality.
Technical Sales Engineer:
Technical sales engineers literally sell the company’s products and services. They sometimes engage the consumer end user and sometimes wholesale end users. Technical acumen is used to explain how the products operate and the ways in which a customer can benefit from their use. Sales engineers need to have excellent communication skills and be able to work independently. They also need a robust understanding of the technical aspects of the products they sell.
The design of and improvement to manufacturing processes lies with the Manufacturing Engineer. These improvements optimize efficiency and help keep operational expenses down. This is done by analyzing data to find areas of improvement as well as designing new production lines and equipment. Manufacturing engineers need excellent analytical skills, the ability to work collaboratively with others and a strong understanding of manufacturing processes and technologies.
Manufacturing career paths pretty much run the gamut of the supply chain. From engineering and logistics to planning, operations, and maintenance. These essential roles have become even more dynamic in a Pandemic world as digitization and automation continue to create rapidly shifting business and operational norms. However, despite this fluidity, the field is ripe for transition as talent shortages still remain. The future of American manufacturing is unclear but recent developments suggest that America could be producing a lot more finished products in the next 10-15 years. Reshoring and near shoring are happening faster than a lot of people thought, which makes these manufacturing career paths a lot more attainable and lucrative.