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Full & Part Time Positions at Manufacturing Plants: Laborer, Machine Operator, Maintenance Technician, Manager & More
Industry Statistics: The multitrillion dollar-per-year manufacturing industry represents one of the largest employment sectors in the U.S., which comprises roughly 9 percent of the entire American workforce, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Employment in the industry continues to grow steadily as companies like McMaster-Carr and auto manufacturers increase profits and broaden market reaches. An estimated 12 million entry-level workers and career professionals hold manufacturing jobs as of July 2014, with the number of available jobs projected to sit around 17 million in the next five to ten years.
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Typical Working Conditions and Salary Options: Many manufacturing jobs feature inherently dangerous work due to the use of large machinery or hydraulic moving parts. Factories where manufacturers work also feature large amounts of noise pollution, which facilitates the need to wear ear protection in addition to headgear, like helmets, to reduce risk of serious injury. To offset the risks associated with working in the industry, manufacturing firms often provide generous pay and employment benefits. Most employees work full-time in the industry and receive an average of $24.00 per hour. Individuals in entry-level assembler or production help jobs usually make around $20.00 an hour, while supervisors and general managers may make in excess of $60,000 to $70,000 annually. Life insurance plans, disability coverage, medical care options, and 401(k) retirement plans also serve as regular work benefits provided to eligible manufacturing employees.
Unions and Positions Available: A large percentage of manufacturing jobs come with union backing. Unions ensure fair labor practices remain in place at manufacturing plants and provide additional resources for job seekers and current professionals alike. In the U.S., between 10% and 11% of all manufacturing workers belong to or receive representation by unions. Labor unions often provide monetary assistance to workers as well as options for healthcare and savings plans. The most common positions in the manufacturing industry include technical work and assembly line jobs. The general category of production helper or worker also represents a large portion of entry-level jobs available in the manufacturing field.
Popular Manufacturing Job Descriptions
Assembler – An essential part of the manufacturing process, the position of assembler involves the production of parts and components as well as finished goods. The common manufacturing job, which often comes with the title of fabricator in addition to assembler, largely entails the assembly of products according to specific blueprints and schematics. Assemblers also ensure the proper working order of all components handled during the manufacturing process and sometimes play a role in product development by consulting with engineers during the design phase. Highly experienced fabricators may even gain opportunities to assemble prototypes or try new products. Assembler jobs require employees to work with hand tools and other equipment to create a variety of finished products ranging from toys and electronics to cars and appliances. Typically industrial in nature, most assembly work takes place in factories and other manufacturing facilities where employees must stand or sit at the same station for long periods of time. Assemblers sometimes work evenings and weekends and generally qualify for employment by having a high school diploma or the equivalent, though certain positions requiring specialized skills often demand higher levels of education and training as well. The median pay rate for assembler jobs rests between $13.00 and $14.00 an hour, which amounts to an annual salary of about $28,500.
Machinist – Unlike assemblers, who put together a finished product, machinists focus on the production of certain parts used in the manufacturing process. Machinist jobs often involve producing either large batches of a single part or smaller quantities of highly specialized components, like a specific type of bolt or screw. Workers in machinist positions regularly follow blueprints created with computer-aided design (CAD) programs and must therefore possess the ability to use CAD software. Machinists also monitor and operate manual as well as automated equipment, such as grinders, lathes, and milling machines. Employees frequently use computerized machinery and need to maintain high levels of computer literacy. Machinists tend to work in the machine rooms of factories and manufacturing plants. The job typically represents a full-time commitment, with evening and weekend work sometimes proving necessary. In addition to needing basic computer skills, aspiring machinists should possess a high school diploma with an emphasis on math courses, particularly geometry and trigonometry. Machinists usually secure employment after completing apprenticeships or taking relevant classes at technical schools, as well. Once employed, machinists can expect to earn between $19.00 and $20.00 per hour, or more than $40,000 a year.
Inspector – Primarily concerned with quality control, inspectors monitor and maintain the standards of the manufacturing process to ensure the perfect condition of each finished product. Quality control inspectors examine manufacturing operations, make adjustments to assembly procedures, and test the assembled creations. Inspector jobs also entail the rejection of faulty products and the removal of damaged equipment, flawed materials, and defective parts. Quality control inspectors use a variety of manual and electronic tools to evaluate equipment, parts, and products. The job also requires workers to maintain test reports, which contain inspection results and related data. In the manufacturing industry, quality control inspectors typically perform tasks from a single workstation. Most inspectors work full-time, with overtime hours sometimes arising as production deadlines approach. Job seekers pursuing inspector positions usually benefit from participating in postsecondary vocational programs and gaining relevant work experience. Various certifications offered by professional trade organizations may also strengthen the candidacy of an otherwise average applicant. Quality control inspectors typically make about $16.00 or $17.00 per hour, for a median annual salary of over $34,000.