What is the Manufacturing Industry?


Manufacturing offers a wide variety of career paths because the industry spans so many different sectors. Opportunities in manufacturing include robotics, lasers, mechanics, information coordination, computation, material handling and automation. 

The industry transforms raw materials into finished goods on a large scale and works hand-in-hand with the Oil & Gas industry in the beginning of the process and Retail at for end-product distribution. 

The U.S. manufacturing industry produced a gross output of 5.9 trillion in 2013, over 35% of the country’s GDP that year. In terms of total output and employment, the industry is one of the most vital sectors in the United States. To maintain the health of this critical industry, leading employers are seeking to recruit those in the military community as its next generation of professionals.

skills translation

With highly technical military and leadership training, veterans have skills surpassing those of civilian job seekers competing for jobs in advanced manufacturing. Some veterans can transition directly into manufacturing careers while others require specialized training or certification from accredited programs. Industry-based educational programs allow veterans to quickly up-skill and prepare for manufacturing careers like GE’s Get Skills to Work. 


Many specific credentialing and certification programs are also available to Veterans, including the Manufacturing Skills and Standards Council (MSSC), Manufacturing Skills Institute, Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the American Welding Society (AWS), and TechShop.

Employers are here to help you translate your skills to their open positions as well. To learn more about participating employers, click the button below.

Featured Manufacturing Careers

Scroll below to learn more about just a few of the career paths the Manufacturing Industry provides to veterans, members of the Guard and Reserve, transitioning service members and military families. Click on each job title for more details. (Note that all salary information was compiled from information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an industry average.)


$42,824 - 52,483

Tool and die makers use computer animated design (CAD) software to create blueprints that help build actual tools and die. They analyze those specifications, lay out metal stock, assemble parts to create and maintain tools and dies.


$30,177 - $38,488

Forklift operators operate heavy equipment to load and unload materials in a safe, organized manner. Operators may be required to transport goods from warehouses, loading docks, railroad cars, trucks or aircrafts. They also perform daily safety checks on equipment and examine products to verify they are up to the company’s quality standards.


$43,161 - $76,863

Product sales representatives establish and maintain customer accounts to encourage long-term, satisfied business. In addition to generating and maximizing sales leads, sales representatives excel at working independently to assess the needs of customers and fulfill those expectations in a timely manner.


$31,517 - $42,127

Quality control technician ensure the consistent and high-quality products by evaluating plants, recording data, and following legal regulations throughout the development and manufacturing processes. Their work creates an efficient and cost effective product in addition to maintaining a safe working environment.                                          


$44,479 - $61,512

Industrial designers draw up plans for everything from bicycles to the latest advancements in medical equipment. Working in the field requires strong computer skills. Three-dimensional computer animated design (CAD) systems are used to transform drawings into models. Computer animated industrial design (CAID) systems are used to communicate with production machinery.


$38,203 - $50,005

Machinists fashion all kinds of products and parts out of metal. They are skilled operators of industrial machinery responsible for fabrication, assembly and repair work. Pay ranges for machinists vary, and pay increases as one moves up to machinists II, machinist III, and managerial positions.


$36,038 - 50,490

Welders use hands-on welding or flame-cutting equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products. They might operate safety equipment, examine pieces for defects, and select and install metal components like torch tips, filler rods and flux.


$38,928 - $53,197

Maintenance mechanics repair, install, adjust, and maintain industrial production and processing machinery. They must be able to repair or maintain the operating condition of the equipment, as well as disassemble it to repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components.                   


$85,254 - $125,701

Production managers help make the best use of the people and equipment in a plant. They monitor budgets, safety programs, purchasing and schedules. They can use technologies like sensors, predictive analytics and wearable devices to consistently—and in real time—optimize plant operations.