Why Should You Consider a Job in the Manufacturing Field?

         It’s that time of the year again, graduation.  High school students are ending a huge part of their lives and making decisions that will shape their future.  Some teens know from a young age what they want to do with their lives, but most are still figuring it out as they go.  Should they go to college?  Should they go directly into full-time work?  Maybe join the military?  What should they major in if they do go to college?  At 17 or 18 these are life altering questions that many aren’t’ prepared to answer.  Or, if they do have an answer, they don’t know how to go about accomplishing their goals as college can be very expensive.  Most people can get college loans, but do you want to start of your adult life with huge debt already hanging over your head?  This is where a career in manufacturing comes in. 
       Long gone are the days where a career in manufacturing meant long hours in a dark and dirty shop doing manual work for little money.  Today’s jobs require skill and ingenuity.  So, why should you consider a career in manufacturing?  I’ve compiled some reasons that should get you thinking.

 Many companies offer training, pay for school, or do apprenticeships.  CrossWind has participated in the VA Apprenticeship program for 2 of the veterans that have worked here.  We have also had online training courses that the company pays for and are willing to pay for college classes that relate to the field of machining.  It’s not just our company that does this either.  I know many other companies offer these same or similar benefits.  Many places even offer internships while you go to school.  Think of it this way, if the company invests in your future, they are also investing in their own.  If you become better at your job through education and training then it benefits the company you work for as well as yourself.

Students that excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are highly desirable in this field.  Most shops run CNC (computer numeric control) machines which need programming.  If you are considering a job in IT, this could be a great fit.  I know that finding a programmer with experience in running Swiss Screw Machines has been extremely difficult for CrossWind.  We offer good pay and benefits and we live in beautiful Grass Valley, CA and still have a very hard time finding someone to fill programmer positions.  Even if you aren’t a programmer, to be a great machinist, you need good math skills.  You use math daily in this job.  I’m not talking calculus, basic math is fine (decimals, fractions, etc), but having a firm understanding of math concepts is what’s really important.

Product Design and quality assurance are great for hands-on people.  If you are a real problem solver this is where you may fit.  The median salary for a Manufacturing Engineer is $65k.  You can even be a Design Consultant for different companies if you’ve got a mind for innovation.  Seeing things from the idea/design stage through to a finished product is exciting!  Have you always liked building things with Leggos?  How about playing Mouse Trap or doing projects for the school science fair?  Does the idea of building a catapult out of common household objects or a scrap metal pile sound like fun?  Sounds like you could find a very rewarding career in this field.

Pay is better than you think I already mentioned what an engineer makes on average, but there are other good paying jobs in the industry.  You may start off as a machine operator.  The average pay is about $16/hr for this, but between good work ethic and reviews, you can climb the pay ladder petty quickly and be earning closer to $20-$22/hr within a couple of years.  As a machinist the median pay is $20/hr, but there are often bonuses plus benefits which can add up to thousands more per year.  Quality control starts off at around $28k, but can go as high as $73k (Bureau of Labor Statistics). 

You can avoid racking up huge college loans.  Who wants to mortgage their future before they even get out there and start their career?  I know plenty of adults in their late 20’s and into their 30’s that are still paying off loans because they deferred them for so long.  You can work part-time while going to school to help pay for college.  Another option is taking advantage of many company’s training and education benefits.  You may even opt to delay or skip college and work full time for a while and decide if this is the right industry for you. 

         All-in-all manufacturing can be a well paying field with a stable future.  What other field can you actually see goods being made from start to finish?  Not to mention how exciting it is to see advancements in the field such as 3D printing and laser cutting.  In some fields, such as machine shops, architectural manufacturing, food manufacturing, and transportation equipment manufacturing, jobs over the next 10 years are expected to rise above levels from 2002 which is when the economy was doing so well and jobs were abundant (BLS.gov).  If you or someone you know may be interested in this field you should watch some videos I have posted here and go take a look at Craigslist or Indeed and see what’s out there.  There is quite a plethora of jobs and careers to consider.


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