11 of the fastest-growing jobs in manufacturing

Manufacturing jobs

The following list shares the occupations that are growing at the fastest rate within the U.S. manufacturing industry and the median hourly earnings for each profession.

Manufacturing is making a steady comeback. After taking a hit in the Great Recession, the industry is slowly regaining jobs. According to a recent White House report, manufacturing output has increased 30 percent since the end of the recession, growing at roughly twice the pace of the economy overall. Movements such as the Reshoring Initiative, with the goal of bringing well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., are also helping to revive the industry.

As with any industry, some jobs are growing at a faster pace than others and potentially offer more opportunities for people looking for work in those fields. The following list* shares the occupations that are growing at the fastest rate within the U.S. manufacturing industry and the median hourly earnings for each profession.

1. Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers, metal and plastic, develop programs to control machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools, equipment or systems.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 25
Median hourly earnings: $22.49

2. Welding, soldering and brazing machine setters, operators and tendersset up, operate or tend welding, soldering or brazing machines or robots that weld, braze, solder or heat treat metal products, components or assemblies. This occupation includes workers who operate laser cutters or laser-beam machines.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 22
Median hourly earnings: $16.65

3. Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic, operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 19
Median hourly earnings: $17.14

4. Painters, transportation equipment, operate or tend painting machines to paint surfaces of transportation equipment, such as automobiles, buses, trucks, trains, boats and airplanes. Includes painters in auto body repair facilities.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 17
Median hourly earnings: $19.30

5. Machinists set up and operate a variety of machine tools to produce precision parts and instruments. Includes precision instrument makers who fabricate, modify or repair mechanical instruments. These workers may also fabricate and modify parts to make or repair machine tools or maintain industrial machines, applying knowledge of mechanics, mathematics, metal properties, layout and machining procedures.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 16
Median hourly earnings: $19.01

6. Tool and die makers analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, cutting tools, jigs, fixtures, gauges and machinists' hand tools.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 14
Median hourly earnings: $22.91

7. Engine and other machine assemblers construct, assemble or rebuild machines, such as engines, turbines and similar equipment used in such industries as construction, extraction, textiles and paper manufacturing.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 14
Median hourly earnings: $17.80

8. Industrial machinery mechanics repair, install, adjust or maintain industrial production and processing machinery or refinery and pipeline distribution systems.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 13
Median hourly earnings: $22.58

9. Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand-soldering or brazing equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations or seams of fabricated metal products.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 13
Median hourly earnings: $17.51

10. Millwrights install, dismantle or move machinery and heavy equipment according to layout plans, blueprints or other drawings.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 13
Median hourly earnings: $24.76

11. Fiberglass laminators and fabricators laminate layers of fiberglass on molds to form boat decks and hulls, bodies for golf carts, automobiles or other products.
Percent change in jobs (2010-2014): 12
Median hourly earnings: $14.01

*Compiled using data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. Criteria included occupations that had greater than or equal to 10,000 jobs in 2014. Occupation descriptions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics.