What Types of Jobs Exist in Manufacturing?

December 1, 2023
Written by: Micki Vandeloo

Among the myths about manufacturing is the statement that “there are only dead-end jobs in manufacturing”.  As with many of these myths, this one is patently false!  Not only are there a multitude of well-paying jobs in manufacturing with tremendous opportunities for advancement, but there are job opportunities to match the passions of almost every individual.

Here are some of the types of manufacturing jobs that exist ranging from the traditional to the more non-traditional.

Machine Operator

This traditional manufacturing jobs appeals to individuals that possess some skills utilizing technology, are able to follow procedures, take pride in their work, are safety-minded and like to be active. Machine operators make sure product is produced with the highest quality by safely and efficiently using production floor machinery.  This job usually requires only a high school education or GED.

Material Handler

Also known as forklift drivers, this is also a more traditional manufacturing job. The only requirement for this position is a Forklift Driver certification.  This position is perfect for individuals looking for an entry level job who can operate machinery safely and like a lot of variety in their daily routine.  Material Handlers make sure that product is transported safety throughout the plant and are also responsible for packaging and loading product onto trucks.

Quality Control Inspector

This is an often-over-looked job in manufacturing, but a very important one. Quality Control, or QC, Inspectors are responsible for ensuring customers receive a high-quality product.  They also perform quality control testing and are responsible for adherence to customer quality certifications.  Many QC Inspectors are promoted to that position from the production floor.  There is usually specialized training for the testing procedures, but manufacturers will either bring in someone to train the QC Inspector or send the employee out for training. This is a perfect job for an employee who is detail oriented, likes variety in their daily routine and is excited to learn new things.

Safety Engineer

This is also a more non-traditional job in manufacturing, but, again, a very important one. Most medium to large manufacturing companies employ at least one Safety Engineer.  This position is responsible for ensuring the safety of employees by training employees on safety operating procedures, developing those procedures, and performing safety inspections.  This job usually requires either a 2- or 4-year college degree, but some Safety Engineers are promoted from a floor position after going back to school.  This position is perfect for someone who is committed to safety, is a lifelong learner, and likes to teach.

Manufacturing Engineer

This is a position that is often not thought of by those not familiar with manufacturing jobs. This is a skilled position, but, similar to the Safety Engineer, some manufacturing floor employees will go back to college after working on the floor awhile to obtain the degree required for this job.  Manufacturing Engineers work with the customers and the manufacturing company’s operations staff to help design products and production processes to produce product to customer specifications.  They are often the primary contact for a customer who has issues with product quality or function.  This job requires a strong attention to detail, technical skills and a desire to travel, as visits to customers are often required.

Production/Operations/Plant Managers

Many Manufacturing Managers start on the production floor or in one of the other positions above and work their way up to this job. This job requires experience on the production floor, and doesn’t always require a degree.  These managers are responsible for overall operational efficiency and manage Floor Supervisors and other key employees.  This job is perfect for individuals with manufacturing experience, a desire to lead and ability to travel, as this person often represents the company at various customer and supplier events.

Continuous Improvement Engineer/Manager

This is a more non-traditional job but is perfect for people who love to improve processes and work with people to do jobs better and more efficiently. Continuous Improvement (CI) Engineers/Managers typically have a 2- or 4-year college degree, but like some of the positions above, employees can go back to school or take training classes to obtain the necessary skills and be promoted to this position.  CI Engineers typically work with production floor and quality personnel to utilize Lean Manufacturing techniques to reduce and eliminate waste in production and office processes.

Purchasing Manager

This, again, is not a job people usually think of as associated with manufacturing. Purchasing Managers are responsible for working with internal operations staff and suppliers to ensure product is procured and delivered in a timely manner.  They also competitively source new products and are responsible for Supplier Certification program development and execution.  Purchasing Manager usually have a 2- or 4-year Finance or Accounting degree, but also receive specialized training through their employers.  This job is great for people who like numbers, are detail oriented, and like working with people.

I hope this article has enlightened you on the multitude of opportunities in manufacturing for people of all skill levels.  Now, go out and pursue the jobs that fit your passion!

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