3 Ways to Find Out If a Manufacturing Career Is Right for You

cars in an assembly lineWe hate to break it to you, but there is no perfect job.

In the Harvard Business Review, John Lees explains that “when people think about getting their ideal role, they’re falling into an all-or-nothing trap. It’s a kind of challenge to the universe—give me everything now, or leave me alone. Which of course reveals how passive the whole idea is: you may talk about ‘finding’ the perfect job, but secretly you hope it finds you. The deep, dark secret of ‘all or nothing’ is that it gives you and me permission to do absolutely nothing. If something wonderful comes along, you might take a look, but otherwise the same lukewarm plan will do.”

Yikes—that’s a scary thought. However, Lees brings up a good point: Eventually, we need to stop making sure that a career could be “perfect” for us, and instead attempt to find a career that’s “right” for us. There can be many career paths that are right for us without being perfect. In the end, the good must outweigh the bad.

At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind the advice from our favorite blue-collar hero, Mike Rowe, about the fallacy of following your passions: “Like all bad advice, ‘Follow Your Passion’ is routinely dispensed as though its wisdom were both incontrovertible and equally applicable to all. It’s not. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean that you will. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a thing you’re passionate about? Of course not. The question is, for how long, and to what end?”

Rowe also brings up an important point. For example, just because you may not be passionate about welding now does not mean that you might not be passionate about it eventually.

If you’ve thought about a manufacturing career before, here are a few criteria to determine whether or not the industry could be right for you. Keep in mind that there are so many different jobs that cater to different personalities, so these are not foolproof tips. However, they are a few guidelines for those among us who have wondered where their perfect job is, and if it could be in the manufacturing industry.

  1. You enjoy being useful. Many successful manufacturing workers derive pleasure from producing something for others or creating a product that they know will better the lives of those around them. “You have the opportunity to build stuff you’re passionate about,” says Brian Sweeney of the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “I mean, how cool would it be to build the aircraft you see in a video game, or to make guitars? If you like using your hands and technology, and also using your brain, manufacturing is a chance to make a difference.”
  2. You desire a comfortable lifestyle: There are plenty of jobs out there where people do what they love, but aren’t on the higher end of the pay scale. If you’re looking for a career where you can be financially successful as well as enjoy your work, many manufacturing workers find that blend in their careers. Check out this website to find average pay scales for areas you may be interested in.
  3. You prefer nontraditional learning environments: If you have less than a high school diploma, manufacturing has occupations that you can enter with a lower level of education and learn on the job. Industrial truck and tractor operators don’t require a high school degree, and these jobs still can pay a median annual wage of approximately $30,000 per year. If you prefer vocational training or learning by doing, a manufacturing apprenticeship could be a good fit.

Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Leave them in the section below, anytime!

photo credit: Regie in the Fifties via photopin (license)