A career in manufacturing often gets a bad reputation, as it can often be associated with black and white photos of the Industrial Revolution, factory assembly lines, and workers covered in dirt, grime, and oil as they tirelessly toil away for hours upon hours every day. Unfortunately, even though manufacturing has changed and grown dramatically since then, this stereotype (over 100 years old, may we add) often still causes parents and mentors alike to hesitate when a student voices interest in entering the manufacturing industry.
One particular “head scratcher” or “brow furrower” is the mention of trade school. This, too, gets a bad rap, as colleges are seen to be a place for higher education and high paying jobs. However, we beg to differ.
Ending the Stigma
While many see college as the first and only option, trade school is quickly coming up as an excellent alternative. Let’s look at it comparatively. The average tuition of a four-year college is $22,000. In addition, the average student loan debt after this four-year college is approximately $35,000. Some choose to earn an Associates’ Degree at a community college for an average of $8,000 in tuition and then go on to receive on the job training along with relevant courses that will help them move up in their field. You see, community colleges can teach students the skills needed to fill one of the millions of vacant manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in a short amount of time (in comparison to a four-year degree). In addition, a large number of community colleges have even formed close partnerships with local companies in order to match students with open positions. On top of all of this, the average salary for a manufacturing worker in the U.S. is nearly $80,000! That’s significantly higher than that of the average American, and it is likely to only increase as the field continues to grow and thrive.
Employment Increase in Manufacturing – Nowhere but Up!
While manufacturing is currently at a peak, it’s not about to cease momentum! In fact, the manufacturing field is expected to grow around 20% in the next ten years! “McKinsey Global Institute finds that the United States could boost annual manufacturing value added by up to $530 billion (20 percent) over current trends by 2025.” (McKinsey). This means more and more employment opportunities will be opening up to candidates with the skills and education needed, which can be gained through trade school programs. In fact, with two million jobs in the manufacturing industry that are likely to be vacant by the year 2025, it’s more important than ever to encourage young students to break the norm and pursue their passions in manufacturing, especially if that means investing in trade school or vocational schooling. With so many jobs ready and waiting to be filled, this places students with concentrations in these field at great value to many employers, and they are likely to have their pick of well-paying, comfortable jobs.
Career Opportunities and Culture
However, many still view jobs in the manufacturing industry as “gritty,” unstable, or unprofessional. This is far from the truth. Technical prowess is viewed very highly by prestigious companies all over the globe, and organizations like Lockeed Martin, Boeing, and NASA consistently and actively search for young professionals proficient with technology who are eager to join their manufacturing team. In regards to manufacturing workplace culture, the field has experienced a dramatic improvement in culture and atmosphere over the last few decades. Flexible shift options and a better work-life balance has become a central focus for a good portion of the industry. This is because leaders in the industry realize that there is a direct correlation between employee morale and increased efficiency and productivity. We believe this heightened focus in workplace culture along with the industry’s fervent effort to dispel stereotypes will work to shrink the skills gap in manufacturing. The team at Leading Edge Industrial look forward to helping more young people find their passion and their place in this valuable industry.