Industry Trends

How to Prepare for a Career in Manufacturing Engineering

manufacturing engineering education

Manufacturing engineers design, direct and coordinate the manufacturing process of products at every level. They combine engineering, math and business skills to create and implement processes to manufacture products in a low-cost, but efficient, way.

According to PayScale, the median pay for manufacturing engineers in the United States is over $65,000 annually. While the position opens a great path for a solid career, there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill these positions. In fact, in a survey conducted by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting, 67 percent of manufacturing respondents reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers.

To help students prepare for a successful career, we broke down four options for manufacturing engineering education.

Manufacturing apprenticeships

Although becoming more uncommon, apprenticeships provide paid on-the-job training for highly-skilled positions.

“Registered Apprenticeships combine high standards, rigorous instruction and hands-on experience—all while earning good pay, getting an industry-recognized credential and avoiding crushing student loan debt,” previous Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in 2014. “In fact, the average starting salary of an apprenticeship graduate is $50,000. And many graduates can transfer the skills they learned on the job into college credit—meaning they can still complete an associate or bachelor’s degree, but at far less cost. It’s a win-win all around.”

In many situations, manufacturing apprenticeships are a great way for millennials in manufacturing to get real, hands-on experience without the price tag of a four-year college.

Manufacturing undergraduate programs

Often times, a bachelor’s degree is the preferred prerequisite for an entry-level manufacturing career. Students should obtain bachelor’s degree of science in manufacturing engineering technology or a related field.

An undergraduate curriculum in manufacturing engineering should include classes pertaining to mechanics, project management, materials manufacturing and the mechanics of materials, as well as core liberal arts courses.

Ideally, colleges accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET are a good choice. ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental accrediting agency that provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.

Manufacturing graduate programs

In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in engineering is a solid foundation for a career as a manufacturing engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, a graduate degree is often necessary for engineers looking to conduct research, obtain higher leadership positions or teach.

Many schools with bachelor degree programs in manufacturing offer graduate programs, as well. Two common programs are the master of engineering, which is a general approach to the degree, and the master of science in engineering, which focuses on a more specific area of study such as engineer, aerospace or mechanical.

Manufacturing professional certifications

Obtaining certifications isn’t required for manufacturers, but it does help professionals stay up to date on industry trends and boost careers. Some examples include:

  • Certified Manufacturing Engineering Certification: Targeted at manufacturing engineers with at least eight years of experience, the Certified Manufacturing Engineering Certification requires a four-hour exam testing general and manufacturing-specific knowledge.
  • Apple Rubber Academy: A free certification course, Apple Rubber Academy allows users to prove their expertise on rubber materials, sealing best practices and engineering quality.
  • Quality Engineer Certification: As its name suggests, the Certified Quality Engineer certification showcases a professional’s ability to develop and operate quality control systems and use metrology and statistical methods to diagnose and correct improper quality control practices, among other things.
  • Project Management Professional: Perfect for project managers, the Project Management Professional certification covers all aspects of project delivery, leading and directing cross-functional teams.

The future of manufacturing engineering education

What is your manufacturing organization doing to prepare students for the manufacturing careers? What are some of the manufacturing engineering education paths your employees have taken? We’d like to hear from you. Let us know by tweeting us at @AppleRubber.