Companies that manufacture products have a wide variety of employee positions at every stage of the manufacturing process. Manufacturing jobs range from managerial positions to building maintenance. Although each company has its own special needs, some of the jobs necessary in the production area may be engineers, technicians, and assemblers. Many companies have a research and development or design department, sales representatives, or other specialty departments. Jobs may be permanent with benefits, temporary, contract work without benefits, or negotiated differently.
The majority of employees in the manufacturing sector are production workers. People may perform these manufacturing jobs in an assembly-line style or by workers in individual cells or workstations, depending upon the type of product and the needs of the company. Generally, entry-level employees make the product with the support of other departments, such as technicians, material handlers, and supervisors.
The type of technical staff needed for support depends upon the company's manufacturing process. Electronics manufacturers need technicians with different skills than a clothing manufacturer. Some of the technician jobs for manufacturing companies include calibration technician, repair technician, and quality technician. In small companies, workers may perform more than one job and the technician may double as the department supervisor or perform other essential jobs.
Supervision is another manufacturing job that varies depending upon the company's needs. Often a supervisor or lead is a worker who accepts the responsibility for leading assigned workers. Most technical colleges offer courses for certificates or associate degrees in supervision. In larger companies, supervisors do not work on the product but concentrate on ensuring that production flows smoothly and the company's goals are met.
Other support personnel jobs include maintenance, material handling, quality, and other departments. In some facilities, the material handler is part of the shipping and receiving department, but some companies assign the job to the line supervisor or a worker. Various factors determine the size and scope of the quality department or even if a company needs one. In large companies or companies whose products are heavily regulated by a government or other authority, the quality department may require many employees who are highly trained. Many small companies do not have a quality department.
Another group of specialty manufacturing jobs involve employee training. Many companies do not hire a trainer and require one of their workers to double as a trainer. Other companies have a staff of trainers. Trainers generally teach the workers proper manufacturing processes, such as techniques and special requirements; safety matters, such as general safety issues and proper equipment usage; and manufacturing techniques, such as LEAN manufacturing and ISO requirements.
Other support departments include the office personnel, managerial staff, engineering and product development personnel, and others. In some manufacturing jobs, the sales department works closely with the line workers whereas in other companies they are two independent departments. Sometimes the support staff works within a department. An example of this may be a computer numerical control (CNC) machine operator who relies on a setup person to set up the machine and a CNC programmer to write the machine code.
Manufacturing jobs are available in any field that produces a product. Some examples of this wide variety of industries include the food industry; plastics; automobile, marine, or aerospace equipment; and recreational equipment, such as game, sporting, or hobby equipment. A person seeking a manufacturing job should choose a job in an industry that appeals to him or her as well as selecting a job process in which he or she is skilled. Many times a person's physical abilities determine which job he or she is able to do. For example, a job that requires a person to lift heavy items may be impossible for some people.