how to break into manufacturing

How to Get into Manufacturing: A Guide

When it comes to the question of “how to get into manufacturing,” the answer is simple: education and training.

In order to succeed at something, you must dedicate time and effort to learning it. So, in order to successfully break into manufacturing, you must learn the trade and practice it. An educational program can play a big part in this learning process. Whether at the certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree level, postsecondary education can be an essential advantage when trying to break into the manufacturing field.

In fact, many manufacturing jobs today require at least some postsecondary education. While the old days of manufacturing required a lot of physical labor, today’s manufacturing workforce requires skilled and innovative specialists. An estimated 57 percent of manufacturing workers have some college education under their belts today. Jobs that require a bachelor’s degree now make up one-third of the manufacturing workforce. In order to make an impact, stand out to employers, and land a great job, a manufacturing education is recommended.

Fortunately, there are many educational pathways depending on your professional career goals, and ability to commit to school. Today, you can get into manufacturing through accelerated programs, certificate pathways, associate degrees, and bachelor’s distinctions, to name a few. You can also specialize in various areas of manufacturing — such as CNC machining, mechatronics, welding, quality management, and more — depending on your interests.

Read on to discover the ways you can get into manufacturing through a postsecondary program, as well as key insights into the particular skills Connecticut manufacturers are looking for in new hires.

Educational Paths to Get Into Modern Manufacturing

Career-Focused Manufacturing Certificates

1.) Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining Certificate

CNC certificate programs strengthen students’ knowledge of material processes and properties, quality, and safety. Entry-level CNC machining certificate graduates also develop technical drawing and mathematical skills while gaining advanced manufacturing machine experience.

2.) Mechatronics Certificate

A mechatronics certificate gives students a modern education to operate and maintain electromechanical computer-controlled systems in automated manufacturing environments. With a curriculum that combines computer, electrical, and software skills, learners study courses like Computer-Aided Design (CAD), motor control, and industrial robotics.

3.) Welding Certificate

Welders who have attained a certificate in the trade typically learn welding fabrication, hands-on methods, and safety fundamentals. In convenient, workforce-ready welding programs like Goodwin University, students practice on state-of-the-art machinery like virtual reality welding machines and earn their certificate in as few as eight months.

4.) Accelerated CNC, Metrology, and Manufacturing Technology Certificate

At Goodwin, students wishing for a fast-track into the manufacturing field can pursue a certificate in CNC machining, metrology, and manufacturing technology. This program provides learners with two scheduling options — complete the program full-time in as few as five months or through part-time evening classes that can be finished in just four semesters. Compared to Goodwin’s standard CNC Machining certificate, the CNC machining, metrology, and manufacturing technology program contains additional courses in metrology and calibration, lean manufacturing principles, and materials and processes in manufacturing.

Expert Associate Degrees

5.) Associate in CNC Machining

An associate degree in CNC machining, like the one offered at Goodwin University, contains a curriculum of general education courses, a core class on team dynamics, and an in-depth understanding of the skills needed to program manufacturing tool locations, motions, feeds, and speeds. The collective courses also offer the necessary practice of operating milling and turning machines. Program outcomes for an associate degree in CNC machining include developing the skills to meaningfully participate in manufacturing operations — for instance, practicing critical thinking and creativity, ultimately empowering graduates to reach their academic, personal, and professional goals.

6.) Quality Management Systems Associate Degree

A quality management systems associate degree is an education that enables graduates to earn a nationally recognized credential as a Certified Production Technician. A quality management system associate degree program also permits future quality management professionals to:

  • Apply financial metrics to the manufacturing decision-process
  • Characterize trends in manufacturing
  • Demonstrate competency in research, product development, and the test process, and
  • Establish quality assurance processes

The core quality management systems curriculum encompasses classes in calibration, interpreting engineering blueprints, manufacturing principles, quality inspection techniques, supplier quality control, technology in advanced manufacturing, and more.

Examples of occupational options for associate degree quality management systems graduates include careers as a logistics analyst, manufacturing quality inspector, quality consultant, and quality supervisor.

A Beneficial Bachelor’s Degree

7.) Bachelor’s Degree in Manufacturing Management

A focused bachelor’s degree in manufacturing management, like the offering at Goodwin University, provides students with three concentrations to choose from — CNC machining, supply chain and logistics, or quality management systems.

Generally, the core manufacturing management degree curriculum covers green manufacturing, leadership, logistics, management, production processes, safety techniques, teamwork, and quality control.

Manufacturing management program outcomes prepare future leaders to control material flow efficiently, strategically plan for the long-term sustainability of a manufacturing business, and establish a quality management process.

Examples of manufacturing management careers with a bachelor’s degree include inspection supervisor, inventory manager, production manager, and shipping and receiving supervisor.

Developing the Skills to Get Into Manufacturing

According to the 2021 Connecticut Manufacturing Report, the vast majority — 88 percent — of manufacturers have struggled with difficulties finding workers. 41 percent of employers named the skilled labor shortage the main obstacle to employment growth.

The question is, why is there a shortage in manufacturing workers? According to the executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, Carolyn Lee, the shortage is largely a result of younger workers having misconceptions about the manufacturing field: “Many recent college graduates view manufacturing as an industry that’s earmarked for people who did not pursue postsecondary education. In actuality, there are many manufacturing jobs that require college degrees and some that require doctorates.”

Another reason for the gap is that there are not enough skilled workers to fill today’s manufacturing jobs. Due to advancements in technology, cutting-edge innovations, and a high demand for quality and sustainable products, manufacturers across the U.S. are seeking workers who are skilled in advanced manufacturing trades, like CNC.

In fact, in a 2017 Survey of Connecticut Manufacturing Workforce Needs, manufacturers specified the sought-after skills most important to their company’s competitiveness:

  • 93% listed engineering-specific skills
  • 89% named CNC machining, and
  • 86% reported CNC programming as imperative to their organization’s success

Manufacturing Careers in Connecticut

Today, 3,796 manufacturing companies are operating in the Nutmeg State, with 153,000 manufacturing employees — accounting for 10% of Connecticut’s workforce.

The average manufacturing compensation in Connecticut was also listed as $100,662 — well above the average for occupations statewide.

The advanced manufacturing industry is looking for inventive producers like you.

Are you ready to make your mark and learn how to get into manufacturing? Click here to find out more about creative manufacturing careers!