The Evolution of Manufacturing Careers

[dot_recommends] October 18, 2021 Manufacturing Trends

The Evolution of Manufacturing Part II: Rewarding Opportunities

Evolution of Manufacturing Careers will help fuel better opportunities for workers. This chart shows trends in revenue and employment for the manufacturing industry from 2013 through 2026 by Ibisworld. It appears that employment and revenue both will take more then four years to recover from the downturn that occurred in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Not Your Grandparents’ Workday!

For those of us close to the industry, the evolution of manufacturing careers is obvious. But new manufacturing career opportunities haven’t gotten enough attention.

Even with automation, the human factor in manufacturing operations remains as critical as ever. For example, I recently met with a manufacturer who invested in automation but struggles to find a person to program the machines.

Today’s Manufacturing Careers: What the Data Says

What many people don’t know is that automation has improved the kind of work available in manufacturing. Manufacturers need highly skilled workers able to think critically and operate within digitized and automated environments.

This isn’t just talk. The data backs it up.

Essential Cross-Cutting Skills for Manufacturing Workers

The latest research by Neil Ridley of Georgetown University shows that cross-cutting skills have become essential.

  • Problem solving
  • Coordinating with others
  • Communication: Active Listening and Speaking
  • Knowledge and Ability Across a Variety of tasks
  • Critical Thinking


Typical Manufacturing Work Activities

Manufacturing work activities that appear across many manufacturing career profiles.

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Obtaining and Evaluating Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment


Compensation & Education

Manufacturing remains one of the few industries where workers can earn a good living without a college degree. Below are the 2019 median pay and education requirements for in-demand jobs.

  • Production Workers
    • $31,420 median pay
    • High school diploma
  • Machinists
    • $47,040 median pay
    • Long-term on-the-job training
  • First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers
    • $62,850 median pay
    • High school diploma plus on-the-job training
  • Stationary Engineers and Boiler (Mechanical Equipment) Operators
    • $64,680 median pay
    • High school diploma plus on-the-job training
  • Industrial Production Managers
    • $108,790 median pay
    • Bachelor’s degree


The take-away – technology advancements have removed many of the tedious, repetitive tasks from workers. We’re seeing a premium on higher-level skills with the evolution of manufacturing careers.

Now that you’ve seen the data, please share it! Young people and Millennial career changers need to recalibrate their ‘brand perception’ of working in manufacturing from the 1960s or 70s to 2021. Let’s all spread the word to foster the health and growth of our manufacturing sector.

Managing Partner

Image source: IBISWorld

Managing Partner | + posts

With over two decades of experience, Parin leads an expert demand-generation agency, StratMg, that helps industrial manufacturing clients achieve unambiguous and quantified organic sales growth across the US, EMEA & APAC.

Parin has built & positioned StratMg to be a value-added marketing services provider that strives to create a culture of quantified sales-driven marketing initiatives leading to sustained business growth through channel management, diversification, new customer acquisition and retention strategies and tactical execution.

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