smoke and sparks from welding

Manufacturing jobs aren’t the same as they were in the past.

What comes to mind when you think of a career in manufacturing? If you’ve never worked in the field or known someone who has, you may picture the day-to-day job as labor intensive, assembly line work. But a thriving manufacturing company relies on skilled workers in a variety of roles to imagine, design, craft, and create parts or products.

With the demand for skilled and enthusiastic employees in the manufacturing industry, there’s no better time than now to explore the options available in the field. If you’re considering a career change and want to find a job that interests you, here’s what you need to know about manufacturing:

factory at sundown

1. Manufacturing technology has advanced.

In the past, manufacturing jobs were easy to find if you were willing to work hard, had a healthy work ethic, and a strong pair of hands. Assembly lines, manually sorting through product, and quality control positions were commonplace and didn’t necessarily require any further education besides onsite training.

Today, with the increasing number of processes that have become digital and new technology changing how work happens, more manual positions have declined, or gone away altogether. That sounds bad, right? Wouldn’t that mean the opportunities in manufacturing are fewer and further between?

Far from it. As manufacturers move toward using more advanced technology and even computer-assisted or automated processes, the need for specially skilled and knowledgeable employees to run or program those processes is growing. The industry has had ups and downs in the past: Since 2010, nearly one million production jobs have returned to the economy and job openings are up by 350%.

2. Manufacturers can’t find the talent they need to fill new roles.

As manufacturing jobs become more high-tech, employers are struggling to fill roles with qualified applicants. Over 80% of manufacturers are having trouble finding individuals with the necessary skills to staff open positions, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). With the industry becoming more reliant on technological advances to power production, design, quality, and packaging, there’s a shortage of workers who are both interested and skilled enough to do the work.

Potentially, the shortage of qualified applicants to manufacturing job openings could grow through the years, with older workers retiring and new workers still viewing the industry as “a dead-end career.” This means if you’ve ever had an interest in manufacturing, love taking things apart and putting them back together again, and think learning about new technology is fun, the shortage is an opportunity for someone like you.

3. Employment in the manufacturing industry can offer options for career growth.

Besides being able to have a job that interests you and has you excited to go to work every day, there’s the potential of a solid starting salary and room for growth. The average salary for all workers in manufacturing, from manual positions to more technology-based ones, was $44,751. For those who’ve graduated from college with a two or four-year degree, the average starting salary could be as much as $56,841.

Apart from competitive wages and the appeal of a non-traditional, flexible schedule found in most manufacturing companies, there’s the satisfaction of seeing the product of your work. Whether you’re designing new tools or programming different machinery to properly perform a task, the end product is something, more than likely, millions of people around the world will use.

Take the first step toward building a career you love.

computer circuit board

Automation and reliance on technology and computers have been a scary reality for many hands-on workers over the years. Will the work that you do be taken over by a computer, leaving you to find a new position? While many positions have been replaced by computers, with the continuing advancement of technology, the need for those who are skilled in the area and passionate about progress will see more opportunity to move ahead in the industry. You can take the first steps toward a new, exciting, and growing career with an online associate degree in Manufacturing. Build your knowledge around your schedule and learn the fundamental and industry-specific skills that can help you start a new career journey today!