Building a Successful Career in Manufacturing: What to Do

Building a Successful Career in Manufacturing: What to Do

  • Acquiring academic knowledge and practical experience boosts your prospects in the manufacturing industry.
  • Staying updated with industry trends and technological advancements is crucial for career growth.
  • Large manufacturing firms offer diverse roles, advanced technology, and structured career paths.
  • Networking within the industry can lead to new job opportunities and partnerships, enhancing career success.

The manufacturing industry offers a wealth of opportunities for career growth and profitability. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, $2.74 is added to the economy, making it the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. Moreover, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and BLS reported that manufacturing workers earned an average of $88,406 annually, including pay and benefits. This highlights the sector’s potential for lucrative careers.

Furthermore, the industry is poised for growth, with the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte projecting that nearly 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed in the next decade. As such, embarking on a career in manufacturing offers significant potential for both financial gain and job security.

However, ensuring manufacturing industry success requires more than a technical understanding of production processes. To truly thrive in this dynamic field, here are a few steps you should take:

Develop Academic and Practical Skills

presenting in front of the team

To excel in the manufacturing industry, you need a combination of both academic and practical skills. It will take years to master everything academically and practically, but it will be worth it for a successful career. Here are a few steps to consider:

Gain a Solid Educational Foundation

The manufacturing industry is a complex field that requires a solid understanding of various subjects, including mathematics, engineering, and physics. Therefore, earning a degree in a related field, such as Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Manufacturing Technology, can provide you with the theoretical knowledge necessary to understand and operate complex manufacturing processes. Additionally, taking business management or economics courses can also be helpful, as these subjects can help you understand the commercial aspects of the industry.

Engage in Hands-on Training

While theoretical knowledge forms the foundation of your manufacturing career, practical application plays an equally important role. Engaging in internships, cooperative education programs (co-ops), or apprenticeships can give you valuable hands-on experience in a real-world manufacturing environment. These opportunities allow you to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom, gain practical skills, and understand the day-to-day operations of a manufacturing plant.

Pursue Industry Certifications

Industry-recognized certifications are a great way to demonstrate your proficiency in specific manufacturing areas. Certifications such as Certified Production Technician (CPT ), Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE ), or Lean Six Sigma Green Belt enhance your resume and could increase your job prospects and earning potential. Consider enrolling in prep courses or boot camps to prepare for these certification exams.

Keep Up with Technology and Industry Trends

In an industry as dynamic as manufacturing, staying updated with the latest technologies and industry trends is crucial. This could include learning about new manufacturing processes, software tools, equipment, or regulatory changes. Regularly attending industry trade shows, subscribing to industry publications, and participating in relevant professional organizations can help you keep abreast of advancements in the field.

Explore Career Opportunities at Big Firms

Big manufacturing firms often present an ideal platform for career success. These companies typically have a more comprehensive range of manufacturing job openings, allowing you to find a position that aligns best with your skills and interests. The larger the organization, the more diverse the roles and responsibilities, offering a broader learning and professional development scope.

Working in a large firm also means being at the forefront of technological advancements, as they usually have the resources to invest in the latest machinery, software, and training programs. This broadens your skill set and keeps you updated with cutting-edge industry trends.

Moreover, big firms often have a well-structured career progression path. You may start at an entry-level position and gradually climb the ladder to managerial or leadership roles. The availability of multiple departments also presents opportunities for lateral movement, so you can explore various facets of the manufacturing industry and find the area you are most passionate about.

Lastly, large companies usually offer more substantial benefits, including competitive salaries, health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, contributing to job satisfaction and long-term career growth in the manufacturing industry.

Learn How to Network

man on the phone

In an ever-evolving industry like manufacturing, networking is an invaluable tool for career growth and success. Connections within the industry can provide opportunities for new jobs, partnerships, or learning experiences that would otherwise remain inaccessible. Building a solid professional network can lead to advantageous introductions, valuable knowledge sharing, and increased visibility within the industry. These relationships can provide a competitive edge, ensuring you stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies and potentially opening doors to exciting career opportunities.

Here are some strategies to help you build a robust professional network within the manufacturing industry:

  1. Industry Events:  Start by attending industry conferences, trade shows, seminars, and networking events. These platforms provide a unique opportunity to meet industry experts, potential employers, and peers with similar professional interests. Be proactive in starting conversations, asking insightful questions, and exchanging contact details for future correspondence.
  2. Professional Associations:  Joining professional associations or organizations related to manufacturing can grant access to a network of individuals engaged in similar work. These associations often host events, discussions, and workshops, fostering an environment conducive to networking. Examples of such organizations include the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute, and the Association for Manufacturing Excellence.
  3. Online Networking:  Utilize professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect with peers, industry leaders, and organizations. Participate in relevant group discussions, share insightful posts, and engage with content shared by others to increase your visibility and credibility within the industry.
  4. Building Relationships:  Networking isn’t just about meeting new people; it’s also about maintaining and nurturing those relationships. Regularly check in with your contacts, share valuable resources, and offer help. Networking is reciprocal, and building strong, mutually beneficial relationships is critical.

By integrating these strategies into your career plan, you can effectively leverage networking to navigate the manufacturing industry, ultimately paving the way to a successful career.

Final Thoughts

The manufacturing industry offers diverse career opportunities, but building a successful career in this field requires more than just technical knowledge. To thrive, you must have academic and practical skills, stay abreast of industry trends, and build a robust professional network. Additionally, exploring career opportunities at big firms can provide the resources and support needed for long-term growth.

Share On:


About the Author