Manufacturing Careers: Job Titles, Skills and FAQs

Updated 25 April 2023

Manufacturing is a broad field that includes a wide range of job titles and duties. Each job has a vital position in the production of new materials, and different manufacturing professionals work together to ensure product quality. Learning about the many roles in the manufacturing industry can help you choose a career path in the field that suits your interests and your professional goals. In this article, we explain the best and highest paying manufacturing careers and the types of jobs in the manufacturing cluster and answer common questions about manufacturing skills.

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What are the best manufacturing careers?

Determining the best manufacturing careers involves finding those that suit your interests, knowledge, talents and goals. If you think you might enjoy working with automated equipment to set parameters and create coding that ensures product consistency, you might pursue a manufacturing career in robotics or programming. If you prefer to use practical skills at work, such as bonding sheet metal to create product elements, you might consider a manufacturing career in metalworking. Exploring your options can help you determine the best manufacturing job for you.

Related: What Does a Production Supervisor Do? (Plus Helpful Skills)

What are the highest-paying manufacturing jobs?

The highest-paying manufacturing jobs depend on the professional, their experience and skills, their level of education and their employer. For example, a welder who has worked for the same company for 20 years may earn more than an entry-level programmer. Professionals with university degrees and advanced technical skills often receive more than others in the field at any point in their careers. One of the highest-paying fields within manufacturing is engineering. An engineering lead earns an average salary of $153,647 per year.

What jobs are in the manufacturing cluster?

Career clusters refer to the many general career pathways people can choose from when entering the workforce. The manufacturing cluster includes several categories of careers, and each category involves many job types. Here are some job categories in the manufacturing cluster and career options in each one:


Programming has an increasingly important role in the manufacturing process as more systems become automated. Coders and programmers use programming languages to tell automated machines what to do and how to do it. They also integrate safety functions in the code, fix bugs as necessary and develop user-friendly interfaces that allow other manufacturing professionals to use the systems. Their work keeps manufacturing processes operating efficiently, which can increase production and revenue.

Related: What Is a Coder? Everything You Need To Know

Machine operation

Machine operation involves the operation and maintenance of equipment used to create products in the manufacturing process. These positions typically require on-the-job training or vocational training. Machine operation jobs include:

  • machine operator

  • machinist

  • mechanic

  • plant operator

  • controller

  • electronic technician

  • equipment technician

  • millwright

  • process operator

  • safety technician

Product assembly

Manufacturing careers in product assembly involve putting together elements of products and assembling finished products. Most product assembly jobs require the completion of secondary education, and some offer on-the-job training. Jobs in product assembly include:

  • assembler

  • boilermaker

  • fabricator

  • material handler

  • production labourer

  • tool and die maker

  • floor assembler

  • woodworker

  • bookbinder

  • expediter


Metalworking jobs involve using advanced techniques to cut and join metal product parts. Metalworkers typically attend vocational training programmes to learn their trade. Metalworking career paths in manufacturing include:

  • welder

  • brazer

  • cutter

  • solderer

  • pipefitter

  • blacksmith

  • gunsmith

  • steel erector

  • scrap processor

  • furniture maker

Related: What Does a Sheet Metal Worker Do? (With Salary and Skills)

Production management

Production management involves overseeing all operations at manufacturing plants, such as employment and product timelines. Many production management professionals have a bachelor's degree in business, engineering or a related field. Jobs in production management include:

  • plant manager

  • assembly supervisor

  • distribution manager

  • floor manager

  • materials planner

  • materials designer

  • operations manager

  • production foreman

  • project manager

  • safety manager

Related: How to Become a Production Planner (Plus Definition)

Quality control and assurance

Manufacturing professionals who work in quality control (QA) inspect each product for defects before releasing them into the consumer market. Quality assurance (QA) professionals focus on the quality of the manufacturing process. Jobs in QC and QA usually require the completion of secondary education and on-the-job training. QC and QA professionals may have job titles such as:

  • inspector

  • QA manager

  • QC analyst

  • QC specialist

  • QA specialist

  • QC lab technician

  • quality coordinator

  • buyer

  • customer service representative

  • shipping and receiving clerk

Related: What Is Quality Assurance?


Engineers research product ideas and manufacturing processes and use the information they gather to create new products and develop more efficient strategies. Engineers typically have at least a bachelor's degree. Some types of engineers who work in manufacturing include:

  • quality assurance

  • automation

  • process

  • electronic

  • design

  • manufacturing

  • mechanical

  • robotics

  • equipment

  • controls

Related: The 8 Main Types of Engineering Industries (With Roles)

Is manufacturing a good career?

Manufacturing is a good career because the production of goods is essential to the economy, business functions and personal lives. It also includes several types of jobs, so people in different fields can pursue a career within the manufacturing industry. According to the Australian Government's Job Outlook initiative, many job opportunities within manufacturing may increase. For example, production managers and production engineers have experienced job growth within the past five years, and the agency expects growth to continue over the next five years.

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FAQs about manufacturing career skills

Here are some frequently asked questions about skills that can help you succeed in a manufacturing career:

What are some manufacturing job skills?

Here are some examples of manufacturing job skills hiring managers may look for in candidates:

  • Digital fluency: It's important for manufacturing professionals to be comfortable with various digital systems, digital technologies, data and AI systems. You may use your computer and technology skills to help a company improve their software, hardware and digital networks with manufacturing-related digital tools.

  • Big data analytics: Big data analytics refers to the ability to organise, interpret and develop data. As many manufacturers continue to collect more data, this may involve working with large data sets and completing basic machine learning and statistical analysis.

  • Teamwork: Teamwork skills help you work well with others to achieve success. Working in manufacturing may require you to work with others to troubleshoot issues, solve complex problems and work towards common goals.

  • Attention to detail: Attention to detail and focus are essential for manufacturing jobs, as these roles often require you to operate heavy machinery, which requires precision and efficiency. Attention to detail helps you protect yourself and your coworkers.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking skills refer to your ability to analyse and solve problems. Working in manufacturing often involves thinking quickly to resolve issues, and critical thinking skills may help you troubleshoot and adequately respond to unforeseen complications.

  • Lean manufacturing: Lean manufacturing relates to updates in manufacturing processes. These processes strive to eliminate waste without sacrificing high standards.

  • Communication skills: It's essential to develop communication skills, especially verbal skills. Strong verbal skills may help you work well with others and share complex information.

  • Product design: It's important for manufacturing professionals to be creative and innovative. Product design skills refer to the ability to transform an idea into a tangible, manufacturable product.

  • Quality management systems: Quality management systems, or QMS, refer to technical skills that help you fix problems. This involves documenting processes and procedures and identifying opportunities for improvement, which may help lower costs, improve efficiency, engage staff or improve and maintain high quality.

What are some ways to improve manufacturing skills?

Here are some ways to improve your manufacturing abilities:

  • Complete on-the-job training: On-the-job training can help you develop your skills and better understand the company's specific practices and procedures. This may also help you discover new ways to apply your skills.

  • Ask about cross-training opportunities: Ask your supervisors about cross-training opportunities to learn new skills and improve existing skills. Cross-training may help you become more flexible and adaptable in your job and may also help you explore other career opportunities.

  • Enrol in training courses: Enrol in training courses to learn new skills or earn certifications. Some certifications may also require you to take follow-up courses to learn further information, which may help keep you updated with the latest trends.

How can manufacturing professionals highlight their skills?

It's important for you to showcase a range of skills while applying for manufacturing jobs. Most hiring managers seek candidates with a combination of technical and soft skills. Here are some ways to display your skills during the job application process:

  • On your CV: Create a specific section on your resume for your skills. Order them logically for the hiring manager to follow, and consider including adjectives to emphasise your strengths, and include any skills you have that the job description mentions.

  • In your cover letter: A cover letter provides you with the opportunity to show your personality and make an impression on the hiring manager. Highlight your expertise, training and skills, including high-level details about your previous experiences that involved you using the position's required skills.

  • In an interview: Your interview allows you to provide in-depth examples of your previous experiences and skills. Provide examples that illustrate how you used them to help the hiring manager understand your abilities and what you can achieve with them.

Related: How to Write a Metal Fabricator Resume (Plus Example)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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