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Fun Jobs That Pay Well? Think Manufacturing (For Real)

Fun Jobs That Pay Well

We know what’s on your mind: Where are the fun jobs that pay well? And we know that you’re likely tired of hearing us say that they aren’t where you might expect. We’ve told you that customer service jobs and warehouse jobs are on the rise in Texas. But there’s another area we need to talk about: manufacturing. Manufacturing? Fun…really? Yes! Give us a chance to state our case:

Manufacturing Needs You

The manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. Manufacturers are scrambling to fill positions at every level as the cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone.  

It’s a significant gap for many manufacturers as they have more open job positions than there are workers ready to fill them. The Austin Regional Manufacturers Association (ARMA) commissioned a study with Civic Analytics that found one third of the major employers in the Austin area are manufacturers. Austin Business Journal reports that there are about 65,000 manufacturing workers in the region, with the need to add 20,000 or so “over the next three to four years” to keep up with anticipated demand. 

The bottom line is, it’s an exciting time to be in manufacturing. We’ve entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. But don’t let thoughts of the smog-filed cities, terrible working conditions, and child labor that defined past industrial revolutions fill you with dread.  As points out, this revolution is characterized by the rapid pace of digitalization adoption in the manufacturing industry and encompasses robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, wireless communications, and more. And many of these manufacturers are deemed some of the best places to work in the country, with working conditions that rival (or even beat) many desk or retail jobs.

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This digitization that’s part of Industry 4.0 brings with it entirely new and exciting jobs, many of them tech related. outlines a few including:

  • Predictive supply network analysts who rely on digital tools to move materials through a digital supply network to provide just-in-time (JIT) deliveries.
  • Manufacturing cybersecurity strategists who help prevent network security threats and hackers from creating breaches and stealing data.
  • Smart factory managers who use machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to manage inventory levels and build schedules.
  • Digital twin architects who make virtual representations of processes, products, and systems.
  • Smart quality assurance (QA) managers who use digital tools to manage product quality.
  • Collaborative robotics technicians who set up, monitor, and maintain collaborative robotics systems.

Even traditional manufacturing jobs now require some digital skills. But don’t worry if your digital skills are non-existent (and those job descriptions above make no sense to you). As we covered in a previous post, Hao Dinh, Director of Global Digital Insurance Operations at Electrolux, encourages job seekers to look into fairly simple reskilling and upskilling to be part of this new era of manufacturing. Take a look at that post to read more about the basic digital skills now common among frontline workers including:

  1. The need to interact with and manage increased automation.
  2. Basic office software skills.
  3. Skills to communicate in a digital environment.
  4. Technology skills in the workplace.

“There’s plenty of opportunities now when it comes to digital space,” Dinh points out. “But the problem is we need to build that bridge to get people who aren’t very digital savvy to go and get trained so that they can partake and engage in these digital solutions.”

The Pay Can Be Great And The Options Are Many

ARMA reports that average earnings per worker are generally higher in the manufacturing sector compared to other industries in the Austin economy (about $45,000 higher according to their research). ARMA CEO Ed Latson recently stated that manufacturing as a sector can provide high-paying jobs for people without a bachelor’s degree, adding that the average wage in the Austin area is about $90,000 a year.

Large manufacturers are boosting those numbers with names like 3M, Applied Materials, and Dell Computers leading the charge for years. More recently, Flextronics expanded to produce Apple’s new Mac Pro and Tesla came to town. Samsung recently announced that it chose the far Austin suburb of Taylor as the location for its new $17 billion advanced chip-making plant. The move marks the largest investment made by Samsung in the US and is expected to create about 1,800 new jobs locally (we’ll talk more about that in the coming months).

Company Culture Is Key

Perhaps one of our best tips for finding to find fun jobs that pay well in manufacturing: Consider company culture. Manufacturers can be exciting places to work. They are often innovative companies that put their people first.

Take Austin-based YETI, for instance. The company, started by two brothers in 2006, is one of the most well-recognized brands today. Part of their success is largely due to the amazing work culture they’ve built over the years. The company offers amazing health and vacation benefits, as well as unorthodox perks such as a gear garage for borrowing outdoor gear such as kayaks, tents, etc. They also have a free gym on campus, pop-up shops, give-back days, and career development programs.

Sondra Wiener, Director of Industrial Design, raves, “I’m inspired by the devotion, passion, and collaboration that Yetizen’s bring to work every day. It fuels me to continue doing incredible work.”

Outside Of Manufacturing, Look For The Hot Markets

Here’s an additional tip for finding fun jobs that pay well: The energy sector is alive and well in Southeast Texas. According to the Houston Chronicle, The Labor Department projects that wind turbine technicians will have the fastest growth rate of all occupations between 2019 and 2029, adding jobs at a 61% pace. Jobs for derrick operators are expected to grow by 31%. And ExxonMobil projects a 50% shortage in skilled craft labor, especially in the files of welding and pipefitting, due to the enormous industry growth in the area. So, if you live in the Golden Triangle and you’re looking for fun jobs that pay well, consider what the plants and refineries have to offer.

“We’re talking about dozens of options from technicians and installers to hydro blasting, fire and hole watchers, and the entire administration side,” says Stephanie Grubbs, Regional Managing Director of The HT Group General Staffing Division.

We understand that this is enough information to make your head swim. But you don’t have to decide where you fit into the puzzle. We can help with that. Sometimes to find the fun jobs that pay well, you need to experiment a little and have an open mind. Talk to our staffing and professional search teams about the options that fit your personality and qualifications. Maybe take a training course or try out some temp jobs for size. Either way, be open to looking for jobs in areas you normally wouldn’t look.