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October is Manufacturing Month and with it coming to a close, let’s take a look at the different careers available in a manufacturing setting and what kind of skill sets or interests might make a particular career path right for you. Contrary to popular belief, every manufacturing job is not just someone standing in a line doing mindless work for eight hours each day. Careers in manufacturing actually have much more to offer than that.


Machining, also referred to as CNC (Computer Numerical Control), is the process of a piece being cut to shape and/or size for manufacturing purposes. At Superior Aluminum, an example of machining is operating the machine that creates openings in posts to accept top and bottom rail. Daily tasks of machinists can include reviewing drawings, setting up and overseeing a CNC machine, making necessary changes to produce improved results, assessing output for quality and performing preventative maintenance. Machining might be a great career path for you if you are analytical, a creative problem solver, and have the patience to make slight changes to receive a desired result.

Engineering is essential in manufacturing. While it is a broad field, engineering can be summed up as the process of applying scientific principles to solve problems and design and build structures and other items. At Superior Aluminum, our team of engineers work hard to design each piece of railing that we produce to be customized for the specific application that it was ordered for. If you are math and science-minded, enjoy problem-solving, are always looking for a new way of doing things, and are curious about the world, you are probably well suited for a career in engineering.

Virtually no manufacturing facility can operate without an assembly team to take components and create finished goods. It’s important to note that assembly is different with different products and sometimes it can fall in line with operating machines and/or robots. If you are detail-oriented, like working with your hands and possibly with power tools, enjoy reading blueprints, and get satisfaction when seeing a bunch of pieces turn into a finished product, then assembly work might be a great fit for you.

Welding is a lot more than simply melting metals together. From operating a wide range of equipment, to reading detailed plans, to understanding the chemical makeup of different metals, and more; welding is certainly a skill that requires training and practice. At Superior Aluminum, our team of welders do everything from welding posts, gates, columns, and special designs to performing maintenance on equipment and observing the way heat impacts different materials and parts. Skills that make a good welder include good spatial reasoning, the ability to understand and interpret 2D & 3D diagrams as well as sketches and blueprints, and solid math skills to calculate exact dimensions.

Once products are welded and assembled, it is time for them to find their way to the end user. This is where those that work in shipping come in. From packaging products for safe transit to scheduling and loading trucks, there is a lot that goes into the shipping process to ensure customers receive quality items on time and in good condition. If you enjoy spending the day on your feet, moving around to accomplish tasks, and have reasoning and problem-solving skills, you may be an ideal candidate for a career in shipping.

With all the moving parts in a factory, someone has got to keep track of the money! A Controller’s main role is to keep track of the money going out to purchase inventory and the money coming in as payment for finished products. Depending on the size of the factory, the same person may also be responsible for tracking and paying other expenses such as utilities and payroll. If you are organized, pay close attention to detail and accuracy, and like numbers, accounting could be a great career field for you. In fact, Superior Aluminum is currently hiring a Controller to lead the accounting functions of our process as our long team member concludes her career. Learn more here!

Customer Service is an essential role in almost every type of business. This is a broad role as it has to do with everything that involves keeping customers happy and returning to do more business. Whether that is answering questions, solving problems, processing invoices and payments, or checking that shipments are scheduled and arriving on time, customer service representatives are key players on a business team. If you have a enjoy working with people, have effective listening skills, enjoy working on a computer, and are organized and flexible, a career in customer service might be the perfect path for you.

There is little benefit in producing quality products if you do not have anyone selling them. This is where marketing and sales come in. Marketing involves identifying who is most likely to purchase the product that is being manufactured. Sales is nurturing the relationship with these individuals and guiding them through the purchase process. Marketing includes tasks such as managing websites and social media, creating resources that benefit the sales team and others at the company, managing the brand and reputation of the company and product lines, and much more. Sales is a relational role that includes nurturing leads, making sales calls, and building relationships with these customers to keep an ongoing partnership. If you are a creative individual with a passion for offering solutions and building relationships while managing the brand reputation of a company, then marketing and sales is a career path to consider.

Hopefully this list has given you a good picture of what career opportunities are available in manufacturing and proven our point that it’s not just standing on an assembly line! Especially here in the Midwest, manufacturing is an industry with a lot of opportunity. Are there any career paths listed here that are of particular interest to you? If so, check out our careers page and let’s start a conversation about how you could be a great fit on our team.