Common Manufacturing Career Misconceptions

February 11, 2020

Manufacturing careers have a bad public image. People see it as dirty, polluting manual labour - not the sort of environment in which any sane person would aspire to work.

The truth, however, is that that is no longer the reality (if it ever was). Today, manufacturing is a clean, advanced industry offering just as many opportunities for career advancement as any other, just look at the roles offered by our Manufacturing Recruitment division.

It's no longer boring, robotic work, where workers sit in lines in terrible conditions, waiting for some awful machine to chew off the ends of their fingers. Current jobs in the industry include production managers, quality and compliance engineering, health and safety inspectors, and product packaging design engineers - in other words, highly-skilled professionals.

It's time that we dispelled some myths. Here are some of the most common manufacturing career misconceptions and why they're wrong.

Misconception 1: Manufacturing Jobs Are Dead-End Jobs

The idea that manufacturing jobs are dead-end jobs is wrong: dead wrong. 

Manufacturing is a far more advanced and technical industry than it ever was in the past. Thus most companies try to hire experienced professionals with STEM backgrounds.

The opportunities for progression are enormous too. There are numerous roles for managers, senior managers, supervisors, and specialists who understand highly specific manufacturing processes. There are also countless technical jobs, including for those who program and maintain machines. All these careers are a great pathway to climb the ladder and achieve higher pay grades.

Misconception 2: Manufacturing Jobs Aren't Safe

Manufacturing was one of the first industries that technology disrupted. Over time, machines replaced labor, and workers had to go into jobs in other sectors.

Now that that process is mostly complete, the opportunities for machines to replace labor are somewhat limited. We're a long way off a situation, for instance, in which a computer can fix another device without human assistance.

Misconception 3: The Demand For Manufacturing Jobs Is Low

Modern economies might be service-centric, but that doesn't mean that there's no demand for manufacturing jobs: quite the contrary.

Data from SME suggest that manufacturers will create around 3.5 million jobs in 2019 alone.

Misconception 4: Manufacturing Jobs Are Poorly Paid

According to Reed’s salary checker the average manufacturing worker earns around £34,058 per year in the UK.

And remember, that's just the average. Most career-orientated people who go into manufacturing can expect to get paid much more than that. Specialists and managers regularly see their pay exceed six figures.

Misconception 5: Manufacturing Jobs Are Dirty

The idea that factories are dirty places comes from the nineteenth century. It is now nearly 120 years since the end of that particular century, and yet many people continue to believe that manufacturing jobs are dirty.

This idea simply isn't true. It can't be true. Modern manufacturers cannot make high-precision goods in dirty environments. Doing so would damage the quality of their products.

Today, most manufacturing facilities look like clean rooms. For example, you have to look at Nissan’s factory in Sunderland or Rolls Royce’s factory in Goodwood where you will see some of the most advanced production processes in the world. Operatives have to wear masks and hairnets to prevent their bodies from contaminating the surrounding environment, not the other way around.