13th Jun 2022

Manufacturing Jobs: A Comprehensive Career Guide


Article Summary:

Manufacturing is a growing sector with lots of jobs on offer. If you’re looking for a career with plenty of opportunity, this guide will walk you through the basics of gaining employment in manufacturing. You will learn some of the different jobs, how to apply and where to apply as well as CV writing advice and career development.

Introduction

Jobs in the manufacturing industry will focus on the production of goods and materials. The sector includes a variety of occupations, from assembly line workers to managers and engineers. The manufacturing industry is an important part of the economy in the UK and around the world. Working in manufacturing can be rewarding and challenging. It is a sector that offers a wide range of career opportunities, from entry-level positions to senior management roles. If you are interested in a career in manufacturing, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Manufacturing work will involve the production of new products. This is undertaken either by assembling raw materials or using technical processes and machinery such as those in a car plant to construct products for consumers.

Main Section

The manufacturing industry is changing rapidly. New technologies and processes are being developed all the time, so it is important to be able to adapt to change. Manufacturing jobs can be physically demanding, so you need to be comfortable working with your hands and using tools and machinery. Although there are many different types of manufacturing roles available, they are largely divided into the following categories:

Food Production - Jobs in food production involve the collection and processing of animals and agricultural products such as crops either to be used as ingredients in the manufacture of other food products or sold directly for consumption.

Beverages – This area of manufacturing specialises in the production of alcohol, soft drinks, and bottled water.

Textiles and Leather - Jobs in the textile and leather industries involve the production of clothing, footwear, upholstery, and other textile products.

Wood and Paper - Jobs involved in the wood and paper industries include forestry, logging, sawmilling, paper production, and furniture making.

Computers and Electronic Devices - Jobs in the computer and electronics industries involve the production of computers, mobile phones, televisions, and other electronic devices.

Electrical Appliances, Equipment and Components - Jobs in the electrical appliance, equipment and components industries involve the production of a wide range of products such as lamps, batteries, and wires.

Primary Metal, Fabricated Metal and Machinery – Specialist primary metal, fabricated metal and machinery industries involve the production of raw materials such as iron, steel, and aluminium. These materials are then used to create products such as cars, engines, and machines.

Transportation Equipment – Jobs in the transportation equipment industry involve the production of vehicles such as cars, buses, trains, and airplanes.

Chemicals and Petroleum – Jobs in the chemicals and petroleum industries involve the production of a wide range of products such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, and gasoline.

Non-Metallic Minerals – Jobs in the non-metallic minerals industry involve the production of a wide variety of products such as glass, clay, and cement.

Main Responsibilities and Typical Work within Manufacturing

The duties of workers in the manufacturing industry are diverse and fast paced. Many production lines must fulfil high volumes of orders quickly, efficiently and without error. Therefore, understanding production lines, systems and processes is essential for any work in the manufacturing industry.

Workers on the production line are responsible for ensuring that products are made to the correct specification and quality standards. This may involve working with machinery, tools, and other equipment.

Quality control is an important aspect of manufacturing. Workers may be responsible for checking products at various stages of the production process to ensure they meet the required standards.

Maintenance and repair work is also often required in manufacturing. This may involve fixing machinery or other equipment, and can be carried out both during and outside of normal working hours.

Safety is a key concern in manufacturing. Workers must follow health and safety guidelines at all times to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.

The working environment in manufacturing can vary depending on the type of product being produced. Some environments may be clean and well-lit, while others may be noisy and dusty.

Working hours in manufacturing are typically long, and may include shift work. Overtime is often available, and workers may be required to work weekends and public holidays.

Types of Positions in the Manufacturing Sector

There are a wide variety of positions available in the manufacturing sector. Some of the most common include:

Production Line Worker

Production line workers are responsible for ensuring that products are made to the correct specification and quality standards. A production line worker plays an essential role in the day to day operations of a busy production line. Their role is to keep the production line running as smoothly as possible through tasks such as checking machinery, monitoring product quality as it moves through the different stages, and assembling products to make sure they meet quality and safety standards. A production line operative will often feed raw materials into equipment and monitor through the process.

Requirements for a Production Worker

To fulfil your duties as a skilled and competent production worker, employers will be looking for the following in job applicants:

·      The ability to work well in a high pressure environment

·      A good sense of organisation and attention to detail

·      Strong team player

·      Good physical strength

·      Ability to stand or work on foot for long periods of time

·      At least one year of experience in manufacturing or warehousing

 

Quality Control Inspector

Quality control inspectors check products at various stages of the production process to ensure they meet the required standards. In certain industries where quality and product safety are paramount, the quality control inspector will ensure that each product on a production line meets the required standards. Their role is very important as they will ensure that goods are safe and compliant. Where necessary, products will be checked against specifications as well as ensuring all of the necessary tools required for inspection are available. The inspector will also offer suggestions on how manufacturing processes can be made more effective to improve quality standards.

Requirements

For most quality control roles, you must have a strong track record in the field and employers want candidates with the following skills and attributes:

·      Bachelors degree in a field related to quality control

·      Proven experience as a Quality Control Inspector

·      Expertise in quality assurance

·      Knowledge of industry products and processes

·      Excellent communication, presentation, reporting and written communication skills

 

Maintenance Engineer

Maintenance engineers carry out repair and maintenance work on machinery and other equipment. Downtime in a busy production line can be extremely costly for an organisation. Therefore, the maintenance engineer is primarily responsible for the completion of scheduled breakdown maintenance of equipment to either keep the production line running or bring it back online as quickly as possible. The duties of a maintenance engineer will usually involve planning and overseeing scheduled maintenance of systems and equipment, fault finding and diagnostics, ensuring that equipment meets safety standards, developing maintenance procedures and schedules and responding to breakdowns when components fail or systems stop working.

Requirements

Finding employment in this area is possible for graduates and school leavers. A graduate will need a degree in a relevant discipline, while school leavers will need a Higher National Diploma or a higher apprenticeship. Other attributes that employers look for include:

·      An ability to work well under pressure

·      Advanced technical knowledge and understanding

·      Problem solving abilities

·      Teamworking skills

·      Innovation, problem solving and developing new solutions

Safety Officer

Safety officers are responsible for ensuring that workers follow health and safety guidelines. As a production line is a busy and challenging environment, sometimes safety protocols can be overlooked or working practices become unsafe. The role of the safety officer is to conduct risk assessments and monitor the levels of risk so they do not present a threat to production line operatives. Safety officers must be alert for any dangers or risks in production line operations, undertake routine safety inspections and focus on prevention by ensuring that staff are properly trained and equipment is serviced and maintained regularly.

Requirements

If you would like to pursue a career as a Safety Officer, employers want:

·      An NVQ Level 3 in Safety

·      Higher accredited qualifications

·      Experience as a safety officer

·      Knowledge of relevant legislation, hazardous practices and materials

·      Experience in writing reports and policies

·      The ability to undertake data analysis

·      Degree in Safety Management

 

Production Manager

Production managers oversee the production process and ensure that products are made to the correct specification and quality standards. The production process is complex and the production manager will be responsible for the reliability and efficiency of a production line. They will plan production schedules, monitor compliance with health and safety, establish and monitor quality control standards, oversee the production process, supervise the work of production line employees and assess the needs of the production line in terms of resources and equipment.

Requirements

Candidates looking for a production management role will need to possess the following to be considered by employers:

·      A basic understanding of grading and patterns

·      Knowledge of retail maths and the ability to undertake resource requirements planning and calculate wholesale costs

·      An understanding of Lean manufacturing

·      Knowledge of material requirements planning systems

·      At least five years of plant management or operations experience

·      Bachelors degree in production, manufacturing or materials science

Manufacturing Entry, Middle and Senior Roles

As with many other industries, there are different tiers or levels in terms of employment in manufacturing. Entry level roles would typically include positions such as production line workers and quality control inspectors. Middle management roles might include positions such as production managers and safety officers. Senior management roles could include positions such as plant managers and directors of manufacturing.

Recruiters/Employers in Manufacturing

When it comes to finding work in manufacturing, there are many large organisations who are frequently looking for staff. If you want to join a well known organisation, they include companies such as Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Associated British Food and Rolls Royce.

Popular jobs boards such as Indeed, Total Jobs, LinkedIn and industry specific websites such as Jobs In Manufacturing and Manufacturing Jobs all list the most up to date vacancies.

If you prefer, you can register with a recruitment agency who specialise in this type of work, particularly if you prefer contract, temporary or short term job openings.

Work in Manufacturing

The specific requirements for each role in manufacturing will differ. However, as a general guide, most employers will be looking for applicants with:

- A good standard of education, including GCSEs (or equivalent) in Maths and English

- Relevant work experience

- The ability to follow instructions and pay close attention to detail

- Good communication and interpersonal skills

- The ability to work well as part of a team

- The ability to stay calm under pressure

- The ability to work shifts, including weekends and public holidays if required

- A full driving licence (for some roles)

If you have the relevant qualifications and experience, then there are many opportunities available to progress your career in manufacturing. With the right skills and experience, you could move into a management position such as production manager or safety officer. Alternatively, you could move into a more specialized area such as quality control or maintenance engineering.

Interview Questions

When it comes to interviewsfor manufacturing jobs, employers will typically want to know about your:

·      Work experience

·      Skills and abilities

·      Education and qualifications

·      Reasons for wanting the job

·      Availability to work shifts

·      Ability to work in a team

·      Ability to stay calm under pressure

·      Ability to follow instructions

·      Communication and interpersonal skills

Use the STAR technique to structure your answers and give examples to back up your claims.

Example Questions

·      Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team in a manufacturing environment.

·      What experience do you have of working on a production line?

·      Tell me about a time when you had to pay close attention to detail.

·      What qualifications do you have in Maths and English?

·      Why are you interested in this particular job?

·      Are you available to work shifts, including weekends and public holidays if required?

·      Tell me about a time when you had to stay calm under pressure.

·      Tell me about a time when you had to follow instructions.

·      What communication and interpersonal skills do you have?

What to Highlight on Your CV

When it comes to your CV, there are certain things that employers in the manufacturing industry will be looking for. Be sure to highlight:

- Any relevant work experience

- Any qualifications in Maths and English

- Any relevant skills and abilities

- Any relevant education and qualifications

Even if you don't possess any experience in manufacturing, draw attention to the transferable skills that you have such as attention to detail, problem solving and excellent communication skills. These are qualities that all employers appreciate so including them on your CV and showing how you used them successfully will always help you stand out.

Conclusion

How to develop your career in manufacturing

If you're looking to develop your career in manufacturing, there are a few things that you can do. Firstly, it's important to keep up to date with any new developments or technologies in the industry as this will make you more employable. Secondly, consider undertaking some relevant training courses or qualifications to help improve your skillset. Finally, try to gain some experience in management as this will help you progress into more senior roles.

Manufacturing presents several career pathways and areas of specialism that you can pursue to develop your career. The six pathways that you can following include:

·      Health, safety and environmental assurance

·      Logistics and inventory control

·      Maintenance, installation and repair

·      Manufacturing production process development

·      Production

·      Quality assurance

Depending on the route you choose, there are several ways in which to progress in your career. Although some manufacturing roles require a degree to progress, there are other routes that allow you to progress with on the job training and experience. Employers also offer workplace specific training that will allow you to pursue your professional development goals. This guide has provided everything you need to find, secure and progress in a career in manufacturing.

You can also use apprenticeship or training pathways to follow develop your career and as you progress through each of the levels you will gain more experience and take on more senior duties. Always be aware that when you obtain  a certificate, diploma, degree or apprenticeship in one area, this could open up opportunities for you to explore other career pathways in the manufacturing industry. The level of education, experience and skills you need will depend on the role you would like to pursue, but it’s always worth speaking to your employer once you gain employment to see what opportunities exist and the routes you can follow to pursue them.

Further Reading and Resources

Explore additional resources, advice and information on all things manufacturing:

https://www.pertemps.co.uk/candidates/career-advice/life-at-work/5-reasons-to-consider-carving-a-career-in-manufacturing/

https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/top-tips-start-career-in-manufacturing/

https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/manufacturing-jobs

https://myport.port.ac.uk/guidance-and-support/careers-support/getting-into-your-chosen-career/career-guides/engineering-and-manufacturing

https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-categories/manufacturing