Ever considered a job in manufacturing? If not, now is the time to consider switching to this booming industry. In a recent webinar with Fairygodboss, Influential Women in Manufacturing co-founder Christine LaFave Grace shared that in 2018 alone, over 264,000 jobs in manufacturing were added in the United States. There are currently more open roles than people with the technical skills to fill them. And with the average mid-level manager making $118,000 a year, she says it's the perfect time to switch into the industry.
Together with Linda Freeman, business development manager at Rockwell Automation and an Influential Women in Manufacturing 2018 honoree, the women shared what manufacturing looks like today and how to get a job in the industry — no matter your current expertise or education level.
While stereotypes suggest that manufacturers work in dingy facilities for meager pay, Freeman was quick to bust this myth. She reiterates that there are many career paths in today's smart manufacturing — manufacturing that integrates smart technologies that automate work and employ high levels of adaptability and rapid design change. And, for the record, the facilities are beautiful.
Because manufacturing encompasses everything it takes to make a product (or many products), a person working in manufacturing may work in product engineering, packaging design, data science, process management, supply chain or other diverse areas of the manufacturing industry. LaFave Grace told listeners many jobs in technology — such as cybersecurity or blockchain transparency – can also be found in the manufacturing industry.
So, now that you know there are many diverse jobs in manufacturing available (and that they pay well), how do you land one? Freeman and LaFave Grace shared some great steps to finding the manufacturing role that is right for you.
Because manufacturing is such a large industry, reading about the various areas you can work in to decide which best fits your talents and career goals can be advantageous. Freeman suggests reading the biographies of the women voted 2019's influential women in manufacturing to see which areas of manufacturing they represent and whether you'd like to pursue their career path. She also suggests reading about the lives and roles of people in manufacturing on social media or employer blogs.
Once you've decided which area of manufacturing you're interested in, it's time to find a career path within that sector that best fits your talents and interests. You can search for specific roles you'd like to apply to using online job pages, like the one on Fairygodboss. Or, Freeman suggests calling your local Chamber of Commerce. She says they'll have a firm grip on which companies in your area are hiring, allowing you to narrow your search even further.
Freeman and LaFave Grace share that many manufacturing companies are launching return to work programs, which help reintegrate people who've taken time off the workforce into the industry. These programs will sometimes cover the costs of training and education, making them worthwhile to investigate.
Now that you have a grip on what jobs you'd like to apply for and their requirements, it's time to fill in any gaps. Freeman says local community colleges and trade schools tend to have programs that teach many of the technical skills required of the industry. If you're looking for a remote learning option, she suggests looking into LinkedIn's series on manufacturing or pursuing other online programs.
Once you've completed the requirements of the roles you're interested in, it's time to apply. In order to invest your time interviewing in a role that sticks, apply to jobs that fulfill your needs and goals. Freeman shares that she has a friend who works remotely in a data analysis role, providing her the flexibility she needs to be a military spouse. Apply to roles that meet your needs in a similar way. Investigate benefits like healthcare policies, flexible work options, retirement benefits or maternity leave policies ahead of time using resources like Fairygodboss.
In an ever-changing field like manufacturing, it's important to stay on top of news and trends to be informed during the interview process and demonstrate your dedication to the role and industry. Freeman suggests staying up to date by investing in manufacturing magazines, which you can find with a quick Google search, or e-mail newsletters. Influential Women in Manufacturing also offers a news page.