Manufacturing is a vibrant, innovative field with an array of in-demand career paths. It is no longer an industry that’s defined by physical labor and dark factory settings. Rather, advanced technologies and computerized systems are paving new paths for modern manufacturing workers. Much of today’s manufacturing careers are lean, green, high-tech, and highly creative, allowing people of all skillsets to take part in producing goods for our greater economy.
Over 70 percent of Americans view manufacturing as important, as well as the most important industry for a strong economy and national defense. If you are considering breaking into manufacturing, rest assured there are a variety of important career paths you can take within the field. And there is opportunity in all sectors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of February 2021, there are about 538,000 job openings in manufacturing across the country. On top of this, the National Association of Manufacturing predicts that full-time employment within manufacturing will reach its highest point since 2018, in 2021.
The opportunity is clear, but the question remains, what are the different manufacturing career pathways, and which direction is right for you?
The Manufacturing Career Clusters
There are six key “career clusters,” or career pathways, within the manufacturing industry. Within each bucket there are many different job titles you can pursue. Below is an outline of the six manufacturing career paths, along with examples of top careers within each:
When many people think of manufacturing, it is production that comes to mind. Production is the process of creating and assembling goods. The production career pathway is meant for those who are innovative, and interested in bringing designs to life. These professionals may work with machines, materials like metal, glass, and wood, electronic systems, and specialized welding equipment. Examples of career paths in this cluster include, but are not limited to:
- CNC Machinists
- Automotive industry workers
- Production Supervisors
- Certified Production Technicians
- Precision Machinists
- Manufacturing Production Process Development:
This manufacturing career path is dedicated to the design sector of the industry, and is a necessary step in the production of manufacturing goods. Professionals within this cluster are responsible for designing the goods that will be produced, as well as developing and programming the processes that will be used to produce them. In order to develop these designs, professionals will interview their target customers/audience, evaluate the current market for a product, and collect feedback from current consumers of the product. Examples of careers within manufacturing production process development are:
- Industrial Designers
- Industrial Engineers
- Engineering Technicians
- Research Analysts
- Logistics and Inventory Control:
Logistics refers to the planning and movement of materials to and from manufacturing sites. Inventory control, similarly, involves organizing the transportation, receipt, and delivery of both materials and products, from acquisition to distribution. Those working in this manufacturing career cluster oversee activities like the purchasing inventory, the transportation of products, and the warehousing of goods. They ensure that there is a constant movement or cycle of inventory, and that materials and products are all accounted for on a daily basis. Examples of careers within this manufacturing pathway include:
- Shipping and Receiving Specialists (and Supervisors)
- Inventory Control Specialists
- Industrial Traffic Managers
- Inventory Manager
- Supply Chain Specialists
- Quality Assurance:
Quality assurance professionals are critical in manufacturing, as they help ensure that the production and output of goods meets high-quality standards and specifications. These professionals may test manufactured goods to certify they work and are assembled properly. They may also write the rules for quality for a company or product. At the end of the day, customer satisfaction is top-of-mind for these manufacturing professionals. Examples of careers in this manufacturing career path are:
- Quality Controller
- Quality Supervisor
- Receiving Inspector
- Manufacturing Quality Inspector
- Supplier Quality Assurance Supervisor
- Quality Auditor
- Quality Customer Service Representative
- Health, Safety, and Environmental Assurance:
This manufacturing career cluster is all about ensuring that workers and products are safe. These professionals will conduct safety and health inspections within the workplace, certifying that it is a safe environment for employees. They may also teach employees safe working practices, train them on equipment and emergency procedures, and implement incident and hazard investigations as needed. Additionally, some professionals will confirm that goods can be used safely be consumers. Examples of careers in this pathway include:
- Health and Regulatory Inspectors
- Industrial Safety and Health Technicians
- Environmental Engineers
- Health and Safety Engineers
- Safety Supervisors
- Maintenance, Installation, and Repair:
Manufacturing processes revolve around high-tech tools, machines, software programs, and equipment. Therefore, there needs to be skilled professionals on deck who can ensure these various technologies all operate smoothly. Maintenance, installation, and repair professionals provide routine checks of manufacturing equipment. In addition to installing and onboarding machinery, they may run regular tests of machines, evaluate the performance of tools, upgrade software programs, troubleshoot any problems, and/or make recommendations for new tools and technology. Their work is important for the safety of employees as well as for the quality of production. Career pathways in this cluster include:
- System Setup Specialists
- Manufacturing Repair Technicians
- Computer Maintenance Technicians
- Maintenance Supervisors
Following the Manufacturing Career Path in Connecticut
Manufacturing is fundamental to the U.S. economy. In Connecticut, it also carries great importance, making up 92 percent of all Connecticut’s exports in the year 2019. Connecticut is home to leading manufacturers like Pratt & Whitney and Stanley Black & Decker. It is also the birthplace of beloved goods like the Frisbee and Wiffleballs, the first helicopter ever, designed by Igor Sikorsky, and even color television. Today, the state is most recognized for its aerospace and defense industries, and was even funded by federal agencies to further economic development and resurge manufacturing in the United States. Manufacturing has a special place in this state, as do aspiring manufacturing workers like you.
Here in Connecticut, there are approximately 3,965 manufacturers employing over 155,900 workers. This means the job opportunity is substantial. The job security and compensation is, as well. Connecticut offers one of the highest annual salaries for manufacturing employees in the whole nation. According to the CBIA, the average manufacturing salary across the state was a notable $98,150 in the year 2019.
With the future of manufacturing open in Connecticut, which career pathway is right for you? Pursuing one of the following manufacturing certificates or degrees, specialized around the career path that interests you, could help you prepare for a career in the CT job market.
Manufacturing Management Degree
With a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Management, you can learn the skills you need to succeed in today’s manufacturing, including: the supervision of manufacturing processes; management of human and mechanical resources within budgetary and schedule constraints; and assurance of lean manufacturing processes, resulting in high quality products.
In Goodwin’s Manufacturing Management degree program, you will gain the skills and knowledge that include an understanding of: operations management, manufacturing supervision, lean manufacturing, green manufacturing, manufacturing logistics, industrial safety, production planning and control, quality management, team dynamics, purchasing, and customer service.
CNC Machining Training
CNC, which stands for Computer Numerical Control, has transformed the manufacturing industry. It offers technology-driven careers within the production field. To get started, Goodwin University offers CNC machining training at the certificate and associate degree level. Both programs integrate an understanding of the manufacturing processes, knowledge of materials, and a working comprehension of manufacturing mathematics. You’ll also gain competence in technical drawings, specifications, and computer-aided machining.
Combined classroom instruction and hands-on operation of our new CNC 3-axis milling and turning machines will provide you with the knowledge and machining experience you’ll need to be successful in the industry. In this CNC machining training program, you will also gain an in-depth understanding of advanced Mastercam skills needed for programming tool location, motion, and feeds and speeds.
Quality Management Degree
An associate degree in Quality Management Systems will provide you with working knowledge of manufacturing processes, and the principles of production. You will learn quality inspection techniques, supplier quality control, statistical process control, measurements and testing, calibration, lean manufacturing, and how to interpret blueprints.
The quality management degree program will prepare you to earn nationally recognized credentials as a Certified Production Technician. You can take this to achieve titles in the quality assurance career cluster, like Calibration Technician, Quality Assurance Supervisor, and Quality Controller.
For those interested in production and a hands-on manufacturing career path, the welding certificate is a great option. Just 24 college credits, this certificate program covers everything from welding safety and fabrication to common welding methods, like shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding, and thermal cutting. Students learn how to navigate a welding worksite and operate welding equipment safely.
Mechatronics is an advanced sector of manufacturing, designed for those interested in the technological aspects of this industry. The mechatronics classes at Goodwin University prepare students to work with the automated manufacturing systems changing the industry today. Students gain skills in the mechanical, electrical, computer, and software driven operations of manufacturing.
Whether you are starting your career or already work in the field, Goodwin University’s manufacturing programs can prepare you for an industry driven by technology, innovation, and creativity. Learn more online or contact us to get started.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.