If working in high-tech fields interests you, you may want to consider a career in advanced manufacturing.
The types of manufacturing that usually come to mind—assembly lines, smokestacks over the factory gates—are increasingly being performed in other countries or by computers and robots. Instead, modern manufacturing creates state-of-the art products and components using high-tech equipment operated by specialized, skilled workers.
And it’s possible to qualify for many advanced manufacturing jobs just by earning an industry-approved credential. The field on the whole is one of the most well-regarded and fastest-growing career areas, with companies often complaining that there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill open positions. In other words, your prospects are good.
Here are just a few of the career fields available within advanced manufacturing:
- Precision machining—Somebody has to make all of the components in manufacturing, and that role is handled by precision machinists. All machining—using machine tools to produce parts and instruments—is precise work, but doing so at this level means creating very small or complicated pieces. Workers usually begin in less-complicated machining positions and, through a combination of experience and education, work their way up over time. Learn more about precision machining here.
- Composite fabrication—This field is focused on aerospace, creating the lightweight structures and materials needed to build aircraft. Fabricators must be knowledgeable about various plastics, resins and other advanced composite materials, and know how to safely handle and manipulate them. Credentials are usually contingent on completing coursework and passing competency exams with live materials. Learn more about composite fabrication here.
- Electronics engineering—Working as a technician in this field means building, testing and repairing electronic components in computers and industrial machines. Training, including for associates’ degrees, is available at technical schools or some community colleges, though it is also possible to train up as an apprentice or with on-the-job training. Learn more about electronics engineering here.
- Manufacturing production—Moving materials through the manufacturing process until they become finished goods needs to be fast, safe and efficient. Working in advanced manufacturing production has less to do with actual assembly than it does making sure that the machinery works properly, adjusting it if necessary and managing the workspace. This is a challenging field, and becoming a technician often requires more education to start, but brings the benefit of very high demand and a good job market. Learn more about manufacturing production here.