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Dispelling the Biggest Myths About Modern American Manufacturing

airbus planes being manufactured “The landscape in advanced manufacturing has evolved. A serious misconception is that manufacturing is dirty, dark or dangerous; and isn’t seen as an optimal career choice. The reality is far from that.”

Those were the words of Jeffrey Krause, the CEO of industry organization SME, in a statement for a report about parents’ misconceptions of modern American manufacturing careers.

The study sought to uncover the biggest misconceptions parents have about careers in manufacturing today. The study, released last month, found that many parents have largely outdated views about manufacturing. For example, more than 20% of parents surveyed by SME view manufacturing as an outdated and/or dirty work environment, and half of respondents don’t see manufacturing as exciting or challenging. Not to mention the quarter of parents who don’t think manufacturing is a well-paying career path.

And here’s the thing: we don’t blame parents for their views. When they or their parents were growing up, manufacturing did often fit the outdated views they have now; factories were dirty and dangerous, wages weren’t always great, and other educational pathways could present better career opportunities. What’s more important, however, is that things have changed!

Did you know, for example, that the average U.S. manufacturing worker makes over $77,000 per year? Or that today’s manufacturing facilities are clean, well-lit rooms that often look like labs? How about the fact that you don’t need to go into huge amounts of student debt in order to pursue a manufacturing career? All of these facts are key highlights in SME’s report, and signal a big disconnect between perception and reality in American manufacturing today.

To make the deal even better, there’s no shortage of job openings in manufacturing–and there shouldn’t be any sort of shortage looking into the future. As IndustryWeek notes in its overview of the report, an estimated 3.5 million (yes, you read that right!) manufacturing jobs will become available in the next 10 years. 2 million of those jobs could go unfilled if the manufacturing pipeline isn’t filled up. Talk about a tremendous opportunity!

If you’re part of the group who previously thought that manufacturing was all dirty factories and low wages, don’t worry: we forgive you. But we’d also like to remind you that many of those thoughts are myths. Today’s manufacturing is much more sophisticated and interesting than most people give it credit for!

If you’re looking for new career options and haven’t considered manufacturing, we encourage you to give it a look.

Photo credit: Airbus

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