Manufacturing Career Pathways

Jobs in manufacturing are extremely diverse and can be found in large facilities or in research labs in big cities or small towns. Most of the time, people expect manufacturing jobs to be solely in production, but the industry offers opportunities in engineering, law, research and design, marketing, human resources, sales, and more. Training and education requirements for manufacturing careers depend on the role, but regardless of which path you choose in the sector, you can expect to find good paying and rewarding careers that match your interests and goals.

Types of Manufacturing

Manufacturing as an industry is very diverse and can involve mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials to create products like cars, clothing, modular homes, health supplies, or microchips. Some manufacturing fields rely on automation and robots programmed and designed by engineers and robotics technicians, while others involve machine operating and cutting of raw materials.

Training & Education

Trade School or Certification
Associates Degree
Bachelors Degree
Advanced Degree

  • Shipping Coordinator
  • Inspector
  • CMM Operator
  • Desktop Support Specialist
  • Electrician
  • Laboratory Inspector
  • Data Entry Specialist
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Lab Manager
  • CAD Modeler
  • Web Designer
  • Welder
  • Customer Service Rep
  • Sales Analyst
  • Electrical Technician
  • Mechanical Technician
  • Logistics Manager
  • Materials Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Cyber Security Specialist
  • Network Admin
  • Programmer
  • HR Manager
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Commercial Planner
  • Financial Controller
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Research and Development Engineer
  • Lawyer

Qualities & Skills

Depending on the role you take on in manufacturing, you will need to have great written or oral communication skills while being able to stand on your feet most of the day or comfortable working behind a desk in a sterile lab. Overall, workers in the industry should be able to work as part of a team, attentive to detail, responsible, and critical thinkers.

Salary & Wages

Just as you’ll see is a common theme, pay will vary per the job, but roles that hold more responsibility or require more training will pay higher. On average, manufacturing jobs pay 40% higher than other private-sector jobs in Idaho and 9 out of 10 employees in manufacturing are eligible for health benefits from their company.

Career Pathways

People in these roles operate manufacturing equipment and machines to create and assemble products, oversee product quality, and/or prepare finished goods.
Examples: machinist, CNC operator, welder
Maintenance, Installation, and Repair
These types of jobs involve installing and repairing machinery, electronics, robots, and other industrial equipment to keep the operations functioning properly.
Examples: Industrial machinery mechanic
Process Development (STEM)
These roles are responsible for early stages of manufacturing with creating or improving product design and the manufacturing process.
Examples: Industrial engineers, mechatronics technician, robotics technician
Quality Assurance, Inspection, Testing, Health, Safety, and Environmental Assurance
These jobs involve conducting tests and inspections to determine quality and safety and/or workplace safety through establishing procedures and investigating incidents.
Examples: Quality Control Systems Managers, Non-Destructive Testing Specialist, Hazardous Materials Removal, Environmental Safety Specialist, Health and Safety Specialist
Transportation and Material Moving
People in these jobs handle products and raw materials to get them where they need to be.
Examples: Truck Driver, Fork-lift Operator, Hand Laborer and Material Mover
Office, Corporate, and Administrative
These workers do not interact with the product regularly, but maintain staff operations, maximize productivity, and promote or protect the company and its assets.
Examples: Accounting, Human Resources, Lawyer, Marketing
Management, Business, and Financial Operations
These workers oversee manufacturing operations and ensuring the longevity and growth of the company.
Example: Logistician, Operations Manager, Purchasing Manager, Sales Representative

Manufacturing Sub-Categories

Food Manufacturing
Involves the production of food such as fat & oil, juice, chewing gums, cereals, animal feeds, coffees, and more. This sub-category can be also be separated into different categories like Grain and Oilseed Milling, Sugar and Confectionary Product Manufacturing, Dairy Product Manufacturing, Seafood Product Preparation and Packaging, etc.
Beverage and Tobacco Product
Is the manufacturing of beverages and tobacco products, including ice manufacturing because it uses the same production process as water purification.
Textile Mills
Specializes in the production of woven fabrics, carpets, yarn, braids, threads, rugs, and more from basic fiber (natural or synthetic).
Apparel Manufacturing
This sector deals with cutting and sewing fabric and manufacturing clothing garments. It may also create clothing from other materials like fur and plastics.
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
This sector works on animal hides and turns them into leather through tanning or curing and then into products for final consumption (including footwear, but excluding apparel). It also includes manufacturing leather substitutes, such as rubber, plastics, or textiles.
Wood Product Manufacturing
Includes manufacturing lumber, plywood, wood flooring, prefab buildings, and more. The production processes includes sawing, planing, shaping, laminating, and assembling of wood products using different cuts of wood.
Paper and Printing Manufacturing
Paper manufacturing includes making pulp, paper, or converted paper products. Printing and Related Support manufacturing focuses on print products, such as newspapers, magazines, sheets, stationery, and other materials, and may include support activities like bookbinding.
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
This manufacturing refines raw materials like coal and crude into lubricating oils, asphalt coatings, petrol, diesels, and other useful refined resources
Chemical Manufacturing
Takes organic and inorganic raw materials through a chemical process to manufacture products such as pharmaceutical drugs and medicine, resin, synthetic materials, pesticides, fertilizer, paint, adhesives, and more.
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
Processes plastics materials and raw rubber to make goods.
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
Converts sand, gravel, clay, refractory materials, and other mined or quarried nonmetallic minerals into products for intermediate or final consumption. The processes include grinding, mixing, cutting, etc. and usually incorporates heat and chemicals.
Metal Manufacturing
Has two main groupings: Primary Metal Manufacturing and Fabricated Metal Manufacturing. Primary Metal Manufacturing is the smelting and/or refining metals from ore, pig, or scrap, using electrometallurgical and other techniques. It includes Iron and Steel Mills, Aluminum Production and Processing, Nonferrous Metal Production and Processing, and Foundries. Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing changes metal into intermediate or end products, excluding machinery, computers and electronics, and metal furniture. Processes in Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing are forging, stamping, bending, forming, machining, welding, and assembling.
Machinery Manufacturing
This manufacturing creates the equipment that is used to perform work across all manufacturing industries.
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing
Is the manufacturing of computers, computer peripherals, communications equipment, and components for these products by using integrated circuits and highly specialized miniaturization technologies.
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing
Is the manufacturing of products that generate, distribute and use electrical power like lamp bulbs, lighting fixtures, household appliances, electric motors, generators, transformers, batteries, insulated wires, electrical outlets, and more.
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
Is the production of equipment for transporting people and goods, including motor vehicles, ships, boats, airplanes, railcars, trolleys, and more.
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
Is the production of household and commercial furniture and related items, such as mattresses, window blinds, cabinets, and fixtures. This sector may also include design services.
Medical Manufacturing
Is the manufacturing of medical devices for therapy, implants, surgery, monitoring, and diagnostics.

Visit Next Steps Idaho to see if manufacturing is a fit for you