Employability Skills for Manufacturing Jobs by Heidi Garski Hammer

Manufacturing jobs are some of the most in-demand opportunities in the workforce. These jobs are often associated with blue-collar work and images of factories, production lines, and assembly workers come to mind for many people. But manufacturing has changed a lot in recent years and now requires a variety of skills and training. If you’re interested in working as a manufacturing engineer or another type of manufacturing professional, it’s important to understand what skills you need to get hired. Whether you want to build cabinets on your own as a cabinet maker or manage teams as an industrial engineer, knowing what they look for can help you stand out from the competition. To excel at any type of manufacturing job, it’s useful to develop your employability skills – or transferable skills that can be applied across roles and industries. Here’s everything you need to know about the employability skills required for successful careers in manufacturing jobs.

What Is A Transferable Skill?

A transferable skill is any skill that can be applied to a variety of industries and roles. These are the kinds of skills that employers look for because they can be applied across different types of positions and industries. Some examples of transferable skills are:

  • Critical thinking: This skill is used to analyze situations and see the connections between different parts of a project or issue.
  • Interpersonal skills: This includes skills like communication, team-building, or influencing others.
  • Negotiation skills: This includes the ability to work with people to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. These skills can come in handy in almost any field, so it’s important to build them up. If you focus on developing these skills, you can take them with you to almost any job.

Developing Your Employability Skills

Manufacturing jobs require a variety of skills, but many of them can be considered employability skills. Here are a few tips to help you develop these skills:

  • Build up your professional network: You never know where your next job opportunity will come from. Building relationships with people in your industry, as well as your colleagues, can help you explore new opportunities.
  • Develop a specialty: Building up your skillset makes you more desirable to employers. But specializing in a certain skillset, like electrical engineering, will help you stand out even more.
  • Pursue a certification: Earning a certification can help you expand your skill set while also showing potential employers that you’ve put in the effort to improve your abilities.
  • Build your academic knowledge: You can’t rely on your on-the-job skills alone. You need to have a strong academic foundation in order to apply your skills in the right way.

Manufacturing Job Skills List

Here are a few skills that are common among manufacturing professionals. You can use these as a guide to help you identify which skills you need to develop.

  • Critical thinking: This skill is used to analyze situations and see the connections between different parts of a project or issue. Critical thinking skills are often applied in manufacturing to solve problems or model potential outcomes for a project.
  • Interpersonal skills: This includes skills like communication, team-building, or influencing others. Interpersonal skills can help you lead project teams or collaborate with other departments inside your company.
  • Negotiation skills: This includes the ability to work with people to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Negotiation skills are often used between departments or with suppliers to create win-win scenarios.
  • Teamwork: Manufacturing work often requires a team-based approach. These skills can be applied to your career and help you work more effectively in teams.
  • Planning: Planning for projects is an important factor for success in manufacturing. Planning for the right resources and materials, as well as forecasting and scheduling, is essential to manufacturing work.

Negotiation and Influencing Skills

These skills often overlap, but they all play a role in manufacturing. Negotiation, for example, can be used to work with suppliers to create a mutually beneficial contract. Or, you can use these skills to team up with other departments to create win-win situations for your company. This can help you collaborate more effectively across teams. Influencing skills are also helpful in manufacturing because they allow you to motivate others to complete tasks or help support your goals. Following the right leadership skills can also help you stand out as a leader to your team members.

Electronic Engineering and Computer Programming Skills

Electronic engineers are responsible for designing and building electrical circuits and systems. These engineers use computer programming skills to create the systems they design. Computer programming skills often go hand-in-hand with electronics engineering. If you’re interested in developing these skills, you can find a variety of courses at local colleges or online. You can also find part-time or freelance work as a programmer if you want to explore these skills without getting a full-time job.


If you’re interested in a manufacturing career, it’s important to understand what skills are necessary for success. You can use these skills to help you explore the many different manufacturing fields and find the best fit for you. Knowing what skills are important for manufacturing jobs can help you better prepare for these careers. If you’re interested in manufacturing, it’s important to develop these skills to help you succeed.

Why You Should Consider a career in Manufacturing

Why You Should Consider a career in Manufacturing

You'll be joining a high-demand industry. The manufacturing industry is experiencing a skills gap – meaning there will be more available jobs than there are qualified workers. A few reasons for that is a shift to “reshoring” or bringing manufacturing back to the US from overseas, as well as the Baby Boomer generation soon entering retirement. This means there’s a high demand for hardworking employees. In fact, it’s estimated that there will be 3.5 million new skilled manufacturing jobs created in the next decade.

Manufacturing offers good pay and benefits.

According to DataUSA.com, the average manufacturing salary is over $63,000. Many full-time jobs also come with benefits such as health insurance and retirement fund contributions. While wages can vary based on location, employer, and experience, the bottom line is you can make a good living with a career in manufacturing. 

You'll avoid student debt.

The average student debt of a college graduate today is over $31,000. The rising cost of higher education has made a four-year college degree unrealistic or not the sure investment that it used to be. If you’re graduating from high school or looking to switch to a new career, you can gain an entry-level position in manufacturing without accumulating student debt that will follow you for years. This also gives you the chance to start adding savings for retirement sooner. There are many different paths into a career in manufacturing including apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

Work with new technologies.

If you like learning about and using the latest gadgets, you could turn that passion into a career. Manufacturers are constantly adding new technologies to improve productivity, quality, and safety. Some examples include 3D printing, robotics, analytics, internet of things (IoT) connectivity, blockchain, and more.

Have job stability.

As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, not all industries are safe during uncertain economic times. However, many manufacturers were considered essential businesses and stayed open while other industries were shut down. Plus, since the job market is in high demand, employers are offering higher wages and better benefits to retain skilled workers.

Have access to opportunities for advancement.

Once you get your foot in the door with a manufacturing employer, there are many different ways you can advance your career. From working up to a manager role to transitioning to a different department such as sales or operations, you have opportunities to shape your future.

Take pride in making something real.

When so much of our lives are digital today, there’s something fulfilling about making something tangible that you can hold or use. Depending on your job, you can make products that are used in everyday life or you see out in the real world. You could also take pride in making products that help others such as medical devices, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Stay active.

Not everyone is interested in sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. If that sounds like you, good news – many manufacturing jobs keep you moving, active, and collaborating with others.

Get involved in a personal interest.

Since manufacturing is used in so many different industries, you could find a career working in an area that matches one of your personal interests. For example, if you are a motorsports fan, you could work in automotive manufacturing. Or if you like technology, you could help build the next big electronic device. 

Use creativity and problem-solving skills.

Contrary to popular belief, manufacturing jobs are not all repetitive, assembly-line style tasks. Actually, many modern manufacturers are looking for workers who offer fresh, creative thinking and can solve problems – for example, figuring out a better way to set up a machine for a job.

Top 10 Reasons to Consider a Career in Manufacturing

Top 10 Reasons to Consider a Career in Manufacturing

"What do you want to do when you graduate?” Finding a career that’s right for you can feel overwhelming. There are many boxes to check, including a role that matches your interests and skillsets, allows you to provide for yourself and your family, and offers the right combination of stability and opportunities. Whether you’re just starting your career or looking to change your path, here are the Top 10 Reasons why now is a great time to get into manufacturing!

Source: https://getfreepoint.com/top-10-reasons-great-work-manufacturing/

1. It’s Exciting

Manufacturing covers a wide array of industries – it’s difficult for people not to find it interesting. Manufacturing spans some of the most interesting high-tech industries, such as aerospace, food technology, machine monitoring, and pharmaceuticals. Not everyone gets the opportunity to tell friends about their day-job, but when you’re working on the latest developments in aerospace, people want to listen.

2. It’s Safe

To the contrary of what’s widely believed, the days of workers crammed into darkened sweat-boxes, handling dangerous chemicals and machines that would gladly rip off a limb are now, mostly, resigned to history. Things have come a long way. Robots, machine monitoring, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and automation are all employed to ensure that the workplace is a smart and safe one.

3. You’re Creating Tangible Things

Manufacturing is all about producing things which go on to help people live their lives. And there’s very little that’s more satisfying than seeing the fruits of your labor and saying “I made that”. Workers in manufacturing are responsible for bringing products into stores, and maybe even set pieces into blockbuster movies. If you work in a bank, you shuffled some numbers today – and those numbers got shuffled by someone else. Manufacturing produces tangible products.

4. There’s A Career Path

There’s more to manufacturing than fabrication and welding – although, these days, these are highly skilled roles. Automation has taken a lot of the dangerous, repetitive work away from the factory floor, leaving many specialized tasks behind for talented individuals.

As the baby boomers retire, there are opportunities in leadership, as well as opportunities in sales, business development, marketing, product research and development, and HR. Manufacturing can provide stability and life-long career paths.

5. The Cutting Edge

Manufacturing has always driven innovation: 3D printing, the IIoT, drones, robotics, for example. We adopt new technologies before they become widely available on the consumer market, so we get the opportunity to use and perfect the development of these cutting-edge technologies. It’s a great reason to get up for work in the morning.

6. Contributing

Manufacturing makes a significant contribution to home and global economies, as well as puts food on the table at a local level. With a substantial contribution to GDP, manufacturing helps raise the standard of living for workers and consumers, while lubricating the economy. We’re also producing products that make lives easier, so not only is the contribution financial, but we’re adding to the quality of life for millions of consumers.

7. There’s a Need

There’s a huge skills gap in manufacturing. In 2011, the National Association of Manufacturers identified that there was a 67% deficit in available, qualified workers. That means that there’s a huge opportunity for training, and for those hoping to develop life-long skills. The world of work has become transient as our economies have shifted to a service-based focus; the “job for life” in those industries has become a thing of the past. But manufacturing is here to stay and needs skilled workers, especially as the baby boomers are retiring, leaving huge gaps in the workforce. 

8. Diversity

With the massive demand for skilled people, there’s a huge array of career progression opportunities in manufacturing. The image of repetitive production lines and grubby overalls is not the new norm. Of course, those roles are still available for those who want them, but technology has stepped in, leaving wider possibilities for skilled workers. It’s not all shop-floor working; there are opportunities in prototyping, product development, as well as the many office and marketing roles.

9. You Get Paid

Manufacturing offers competitive pay and benefit packages. There’s a higher percentage of workers in manufacturing with retirement plans, in comparison with other private sector industries. And there’s often a good range of health care benefits available, and on a more generous basis than in other industries.

Pay, on average, is higher for equivalent roles in other industries.

10. New Skills

As manufacturing adapts to new technologies, so do the roles. There’s a distinct push for people with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills, as machines require programming and new software needs development.

Companies are struggling to recruit people with these skills; partly because it’s not widely understood that these skills are required. But for highly qualified, technical specialists, manufacturing offers excellent potential for a great career.

So, there you have it – ten reasons why it’s great to work in this exciting industry. If you’re interested in getting involved, speak to your local careers advisor, or approach your local manufacturer directly and let them know what you have to offer them.