Guess What, Kids? You Don’t Really Want A Job In Manufacturing

I just stumbled across CNN/Money’s list of Best 100 Jobs for 2012. The list shows those jobs that are expected to grow and earn more money in the US over the next decade.

I was shocked – but not at all surprised – at the number of manufacturing-related jobs that made the list. Maybe you will be too. But probably not.

The answer is zero. Nada. Nuthin’. Goose eggs.

Oh, there are titles that suggest ‘manufacturing’ – somewhat. But you look at the list and you tell me.

Being very, very liberal in my impressions, I counted a total of 10 growth jobs on the list that even remotely dance around the primary creation of manufactured goods. They include Biomedical Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Civil Engineer, Petroleum Engineer, Applications Engineer (no, not a manufacturing process applications engineer – this one is for computer applications), Telecommunications Network Engineer, Construction Project Engineer, and – the absolute closest title to manufacturing I could spot – Supply Chain Analyst.

Check the list yourself, and while you’re at it scope out the average anticipated salaries. You’ll also notice that each job has been rated in four general categories: personal satisfaction; low stress; benefit to society; and flexibility.

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but as manufacturing has finally entered the national debate in a big way, we’re recognizing that we have a serious skills shortage & its impact on our ability to innovate. Various estimates indicate salaries for manufacturers, machinists, and high-tech shop-floor managers at anywhere from $50-70k per year. So how on earth could not one manufacturing job make this list?

Were those jobs simply not considered? Was there some bias from the start? Are we being fed a social engineering agenda to keep manufacturing out of the equation?

I think you know the answer to those questions. It’s a seemingly small thing, this list. But it’s indicative of the disconnect between a necessary and valuable section of our economy and the rest of the population.

This is a sin of omission that none of us that understand manufacturing should accept. Those kids that are gifted to become our next generation of makers deserve a better – and more accurate – message.

AJ Sweatt
  1. AJ; I’m not surprised to hear this. In light of the recent election it is obvious people need to learn to think for themselves. Make decisions based on what they see and how they feel. Not what they hear on TV. Sometimes people get the life and the government they deserve.

    Personally, I love working in manufacturing. People that are not attracted to manufacturing, don’t know what they are missing. Manufacturing has something for everyone.
    Jim Glass

    • Jim! Thanks so much for the simple, direct, and uplifting message. I’ve seen and heard a lot lately that suggests people are giving up on manufacturing. ‘We’ve lost it,’ they say. I say that’s not true. We’ve been in worse pickles, and we’ll get through this one. But subtle messages like the one sent via the CNN list sure don’t help. Thanks again for the visit, and the note.

    • Jim – Don’t know who you voted for (actually I think I do) and it’s irrelevant to my statement. Which is….I find it interesting that so many people think that if one does not vote for the same person they did that one is not thinking for themselves. I do, however, agree with you that people do need to start thinking for themselves but I would not use the recent election as proof to the theory that they do not. And sorry to say too often people DO make decisions on what they see on TV whether it is the obvious right leaning Fox or the left leaning MSNBC and do not do any of their own research.
      I do, by the way, also agree with you that a job in manufacturing is a rewarding one. Wish I had taken one when I was younger. The omission of any from the list benefits only companies looking to send these jobs to countries where they will be done cheaper. Made In The USA is unfortunately a shrinking label and one I am sorry to see disappearing.

  2. AJ, I’ve recently climbed on the STEM, and now STEAM bandwagon. I have a feeling, that just like everything else that gets “promoted” effectively, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are no exception. So with the addition of “Arts and Design” and a few celebrities like Will.i.am http://us.myspace.com/whats-hot/2012/8/28/listen-will-i-am-debuts-reach-for-the-stars-on-mars-starts-war-with-aliens we need to add some sizzle in order to get the addition manufacturing needs. Attention is the necessary first step. As Jim Glass suggests, once you get a taste of it, the rest takes care of itself. But let’s stay positive about what government has done recently or just leave it out of the equation, altogether. Growth in the manufacturing sector during the last 3-1/2 years is running at a pace that hasn’t been seen in 40 years. The U.S. government invested $30 million in an initiative to fund Additive Manufacturing R&D http://roboticsonline.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/government-initiative-to-fund-additive-manufacturing-rd/ so the U.S. can take and maintain the lead in an important new technology. The government took a risk to save the U.S. automotive industry and with it a million jobs in manufacturing and thousands of metalworking and other manufacturing shops. (For a reason I still cannot understand, there are many people in manufacturing wanted the auto industry to fail.) The government is funding $50 million to private sector development of commercial space flight. http://www.informationweek.com/government/leadership/nasa-commercial-space-flight-faces-delay/231903392 . And there are other very positive signs that for the first time in a long time, our government is starting to catch on to the importance of manufacturing.

    • Nick, I love your optimism. I share it, and I agree with most of what you say here. I do think that some of those who do not support the automotive bail-outs are as militant as you suggest – many of them that I’ve spoken to would’ve preferred to see them enter & emerge from bankruptcy to become more efficient and effective than before, to update and redefine themselves meaningfully to be more competitive globally. To their way of thinking, by infusing cash into those companies we have maintained the status quo, and have merely kicked the can down the road. While I empathize with that opinion, I agree that it would’ve been ultimately unwise to shed any manufacturing jobs at a time when we need all that we can get to maintain any hope of revitalizing our innovation engine. As always, thanks so much for the great takes and the thoughtful notes. You rock.

  3. Ah yes, the all-mighty free market that solves every economic problem for the betterment of mankind. And no doubt, men somewhere in the kingdom of man would have been better off had the free market ridden roughshod over our auto industry. But at the time shouldn’t we have been most concerned about the betterment of mankind in the good old USofA.

    But STEM to STEAM… that was your theme. We digressed.

    • Yeah, I think we’re all sick of the invisible hand bitch-slapping us upside the head. And it’s hard not to digress around this topic – you gots to get back to the root cause, after all. Still, that CNN article speaks volumes about the image problems we’re up against.

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