When the term "production" or "producing" comes up, many people think of Hollywood and the film industry-or fruits and vegetables. Production occupations are actually a vital career category, responsible for providing so many of the goods and services people enjoy and rely on every day. When people go grocery shopping and buy a steak, they may not think twice about what it took to get that steak from the animal it was to a grill away from delicious. Production occupations bring a product from its unformed parts to a ready-to-use (or wear or eat) state for consumers to access. Behind every product are many steps and many people; behind the best products are workers who have a sincere skill and affinity for what they do.
Manufacturing is a critical component of the national and global economy, and while manufacturing work has migrated oversees, there are still many opportunities in a variety of occupations here. Manufacturing and production is a highly specialized industry, and each product can have a specific, unique method and process. Production can also refer to good and services, such as clean water or electricity. Trained professionals are needed to oversee and manage a complex system designed to improve or create an important resource.
Cabinetmakers, butchers, machinists, power plat operators, welders, and many more jobs fall under this category!
Duties can include:
- Preparing, maintaining, and repairing machinery for optimal and efficient use.
- Supervising the production process to ensure all safety and health codes are strictly followed
- Operating complex tools and machines
- Assembling products with all of its components and ensuring that the finished products match design plans
- Examining finished products to evaluate the quality and consistency of that quality
- Ordering supplies and materials necessary for the process and keeping track of inventory
- Receiving and processing customer orders
BECOMING A PRODUCTION WORKER
The path to a career in this category depends less on what your skills are than how you want to use them.
Many of the professions in this category are considered trades, and as such, do not require a great deal of formal education beyond a high school diploma. This is not to say, however, that workers do not need to be educated! General skills in business and computers are beneficial for some jobs and for workers who want to be a part of the production and business on a larger scale. Further education in math, shop, woodworking, and blueprinting can be very helpful. And while some universities offer in-depth programs for certain trades, vocational schools, technical schools, and community colleges offer the widest variety of training programs.
In many cases, the actual skills and work on the occupation are taught in person, on-the-job. The training process to get started can be relatively short and take place over a period of weeks for less-skilled labor, but some trade require several years of training and/or apprenticeship before being ready for advanced work. Workers with significant experience educate and supervise new workers, and may formally take on an apprentice to train long-term. Some employers will sponsor an apprenticeship, and some operate alongside community and technical colleges that offer formal programs.
Certificate programs are also sometimes offered, depending on the trade or work, and can be beneficial for job applications. It provides a tangible way for applicants to demonstrate the quality of work they can do to prospective employers.
- Detail oriented The work process, and the employee's place in it, must be carefully planned and executed. Workers need to be able to catch flaws, errors, and discrepancies in their own tasks.
- Dexterity. Work in this field often requires a hands-on approach, or at least a hands-on-machinery one. Many jobs, including assemblers, require intricate and detailed work.
- Math skills. Workers may need to use algebra, geometry, statistics-in a few cases, calculus-to plan, design, and operate production processes. They may need to calculate weights of materials and spaces for them, to measure and calibrate and evaluate data and products.
- Mechanical skills. Workers often use complicated equipment and machinery in the production process. Excellent mechanical skills enable the worker to understand the tools and functions of of them in his or her work.
- Physical stamina. Manufacturing and production can require a lot of active work and long periods standing. Workers should be able to maintain solid energy levels to produce the same quality of work at the end of the day as in the beginning.
- Technical skills. Workers often have to use computers, plan and coordinate complex tasks with drafts and blueprints, and perform highly specialized skills in their occupation.
Overall, this category of occupations should grow at a slower rate than the national projections for all occupations, and in a few cases will actually decline. This is partly due to slow economic growth overall and the increased automation of the manufacturing processes.
Workers who have been trained on modern and new techniques and equipment may have an advantage, as well as those who have completed formal apprenticeships. Those with advanced skills and training will have a solid competitive edge. Workers will also be needed to replace those who retire or leave, especially in sectors that do not retain workers for long periods, like the meat packing industry. Despite streamlining the production processes, which reduces the number of jobs, there will still be job opportunities because workers often leave the business.
|Occupation||Description||Entry-Level Education||2012 Median Pay|
|Assemblers and fabricators||
Assemblers and fabricators assemble both finished products and the parts that go into them. They use tools, machines, and their hands to make engines, computers, aircraft, toys, electronic devices, and more.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$28,580|
Bakers mix ingredients according to recipes to make breads, pastries, and other baked goods.'
|Less than high school||$23,140|
|Butchers and meat cutters||
Butchers and meat cutters cut, trim, and package meat for retail sale.'
|Less than high school||$28,490|
|Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians||
Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians construct, fit, or repair devices that increase function in the lives of patients. These devices include dentures, eyeglasses, and prosthetics.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$33,070|
|Food and tobacco processing workers||
Food and tobacco processing workers operate equipment that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients used in the manufacturing of food or tobacco products.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$25,780|
|Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers||
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, manufacture, and sell jewelry. They also adjust, repair, and appraise gems and jewelry.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$35,350|
|Laundry and dry-cleaning workers||
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers clean clothing, linens, drapes, and other articles, using washing, drying, and dry-cleaning machines. They also may clean leather, suede, furs, and rugs.'
|Less than high school||$19,930|
|Machinists and tool and die makers||
Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically-controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$40,910|
|Metal and plastic machine workers||
Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$32,950|
|Painting and coating workers||
Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$32,850|
|Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers||
Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$68,230|
Printing workers produce print material in three stages: prepress, press, and binding and finishing. They review specifications, calibrate color settings on printers, identify and fix problems with printing equipment, and assemble pages. '
|Associate's degree or postsecondary non-degree award||$34,100|
|Quality control inspectors||Quality control inspectors examine products and materials for defects or deviations from manufacturers’ or industry specifications.'||High school diploma or equivalent||$34,460|
Semiconductor processors oversee the manufacturing of semiconductor devices, which are commonly known as integrated circuits or microchips. These microchips are found in all electronic devicesâ€”including cell phones, cars, and laptopsâ€”and are an important part of modern life.'
|Slaughterers, meat packers, and meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers||
Slaughterers, meat packers, and meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers kill, clean, or prepare animals for sale or further processing. They also cut, prepare, or package meats for wholesale or retail sale.'
|Less than high school||$23,320|
|Stationary engineers and boiler operators||
Stationary engineers and boiler operators control stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or for industrial purposes.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$53,560|
|Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators||
Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators manage a system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$42,760|
|Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers||
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers weld or join metal parts. They also fill holes, indentions, or seams of metal products, using hand-held welding equipment.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$36,300|
Woodworkers build a variety of products, such as cabinets and furniture, using wood.'
|High school diploma or equivalent||$28,440|