Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top 5 Careers in Manufacturing

As our country recovers from the recession, questions are being raised over the future of manufacturing in our country. While some manufacturing sectors are expected to decline as jobs are automated or sent overseas, other sectors have resisted the effects of the recession. Here are five manufacturing sectors with positive career outlooks for the future ahead.

1. Engineering 

Manufacturing engineers manage and coordinate all the systems and machinery that a company uses to manufacture its products. They may design or improve machinery or be responsible for repair and maintenance. In general, manufacturing engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in mechanical, industrial, or manufacturing engineering. They must also have skills in management and experience directing large projects. The outlook for a job as a manufacturing engineer is positive – in general, they earn higher salaries than most other manufacturing jobs and their jobs are not directly impacted by improvements in technology. They will have to gain new skills as technology improves, but there will always need to be someone to design new machines and ensure that they are properly maintained.

 2. Food and Beverage 
The food and beverage manufacturing industry is relatively stable compared to other manufacturing sectors because humans need food to live. Food and beverage manufacturing produces a variety of products, from processed meats, frozen foods, and ingredients supplied to restaurants, as well as all kind of beverages. Although companies continue to invest in technologically advanced machinery to do parts of the processing, certain tasks have proven difficult to automate, so labor jobs remain plentiful. Quality control is an important task in food and beverage processing – demand for these types of jobs will continue to be high. As the population grows and demand for convenient foods remains high, the future for food and beverage processing is quite positive.

3. Pharmaceuticals
As the Baby Boomer generation gets older and new drugs continue to be developed, jobs aren’t going away in this sector anytime soon. In particular, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is renowned for its breakthroughs in research and development. Although most of the manufacturing process is automated, quality control and assurance are incredibly important in this industry. Work conditions are much better than other manufacturing industries as well, since the products must be kept stable and avoid contamination.

4. Alternative Energy
The largest area of growth in the energy manufacturing sector is towards green and sustainable forms of energy. As other manufacturing sectors decline, many companies are looking towards manufacturing wind turbines, solar panels, and other products use to produce renewable forms of energy. Since many forms of renewable energy manufacturing are relatively new industries, the job outlook is quite positive. Since many products, such as photovoltaic panels and turbine blades, are difficult to make, skilled workers will be needed for these jobs.

5. Metalworking/Machinery
All manufacturing sectors rely on machines to increase productivity. The sector of manufacturing responsible for metalworking and machinery is responsible for making these machines. Although much of the production process is automated, skilled workers are needed to operate machines, create precision tools, and assemble parts. Import competition does not affect machinery manufacturing as much as other manufacturing industries because it relies on local, highly skilled workers.

Dawn Lovett has worked in engineering for over 20 years. She also owns the site  Online Engineering Degrees for students interested in getting an online degree in engineering.

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