What is manufacturing and industry?
From jet planes to dinner plates, once something is designed it needs to be built and often mass-produced to meet with demand from consumers like us.
Manufacturing deals with the production of things using machines, tools, chemicals and good old-fashioned handcrafting.
Industrial production takes raw materials and transforms them into the finished article on a grand scale.
There are a variety of jobs available in this area, and more things are made in the UK than you think...
What manufacturing and industry jobs can I do?
- Engineers: The masterminds behind the design, build and maintenance of many many different things. We’re focusing on manufacturing here but you can find out more about different careers in engineering in its very own section.
- Manufacturing engineers: Design the machines, tools and systems that put together products.
- Production engineer: Looks at the best way to manage a production line to get things out speedily and efficiently.
- Industrial engineers: Bring together people, money and machines to improve how everything works together. They can often be brought into companies as consultants.
- Food technologists: Come up with delicious recipes and new ways of making the latest foods that we buy in shops – from ready meals to low-fat yogurts. It’s also their job to make sure foods are safe and contain all the proper ingredients.
- Manufacturing managers: Oversee production, manage workers and make sure things go smoothly on the factory floor.
- Production worker: Directly involved in putting together the product. This could include working machines, manning the conveyor belt, fitting and finishing parts or packing the finished products. You might get the opportunity to train in a skilled craft like machine operation, electronics or even fine stitching for shoes on a production line.
- Quality assurance managers: Make sure that all the products flying off the production line are in good working order and up to all of the necessary legal and safety standards. They will often set standards and design ways of checking products.
Is a career in manufacturing and industry for me?
These are great careers for problem solvers and people who enjoy planning and organising.
You should be able to work as part of a big team and work under pressure to meet deadlines.
In order to find work as an engineer, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have a head for numbers. However, manufacturing engineers and food technicians also get the chance to be creative and come up with new products and ideas.
Still not sure whether a career in manufacturing and industry is for you? Why not post any questions on our student careers advice forum and let one of our careers experts answer your questions.
How can I start a career in manufacturing and industry?
Maths and science skills are important for lots of jobs in this industry.
You don’t necessarily need qualifications to get a job as a production worker, but GCSEs in English and maths (4 or above) will help you to get on to an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship, pick up new skills and move up the career ladder to become a production manager or skilled worker.
If you have four GCSEs including maths, English and a science subject, you can apply for apprenticeships as a manufacturing lab technician and work towards becoming a technologist.
With two or more A-levels, you can apply for advanced apprenticeships in engineering model making, metalwork or motorsport technician.
To work as an engineer you should aim to study A-levels in maths as well as chemistry, physics or biology. Most engineers will need a degree in engineering and a postgraduate degree if they want to specialise in a particular area. You can also now do apprenticeships in engineering.
However, lots of big manufacturing companies, including car and appliance manufacturers also offer apprenticeships for school leavers to train as technicians.
See if there are any opportunities to train through an apprenticeship in manufacturing and industry today.
What manufacturing and industry qualifications are available?
There are plenty of opportunities to gain new skills on the job at all levels. Apprentices can study towards qualifications, like a BTEC in engineering or an NVQ in chemical manufacturing.
If you're considering studying manufacturing or engineering at university, why not check out our list of UK universities to see which ones offer the course that you're looking for.
Did you know these manufacturing and industry facts?
Julie Deane started the Cambridge Satchel Company in 2008 with just £600 start up money. The company now has a turnover of more than £1 million a month and manufactures all of its satchels in the UK.
2.6 million people work in UK manufacturing.
Britain is the 8th largest manufacturer in the world by output.