The Changing Manufacturing Industry and Why College Degrees Will Be More Prevalent

Carlee Nilphai
Posted by in Career Advice

These days, everyone has a college degree. Even in industries like manufacturing, which previously didn’t require anything higher than a high school diploma, are asking for higher-ed degrees.


With the constant development of technology in manufacturing, the work is becoming more computer and programming centered, rather than relying on humans for manual labor. Therefore, companies are requiring more education-background in technology. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 22% of manufacturing workers had a college degree in 1991. Today, that number has grown to over 40% and it’s climbing. It takes a lot more knowledge to work with the advanced machinery than it did years ago, due to the amount of software that now goes into handling these machines.


That being said, you don’t necessarily have to have a bachelor’s degree in automation or engineering to land a job in manufacturing. Many places are looking for associate degrees or experience at a trade-school. The idea is just that more places want to see proof of experience, so time in school can be an easy way to gain something for your resume.


While these changes are occurring, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost for people who don’t want to go to school for their career. Internships and apprenticeships in the industry are great ways to get experience and a foot-in-the-door into companies.


If you are considering a career in manufacturing, here are some education pathways to consider:


Get a Degree in Manufacturing Engineering

It doesn't hurt to have a degree in manufacturing engineering if you want to go into the field. You can find programs around the country that offer 2-year or 4-year programs for this at an affordable price.



There are tons of opportunities for apprenticeships in manufacturing. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door to companies in the industry, or a way to make money while you earn a degree. There are even government apprenticeships that offer amazing benefits.


Start out in an Entry-Level Position

Getting a job at a warehouse or manufacturing company at entry-level is still possible without a degree. That being said, your pay-scale may increase if you obtain a degree, and it is more likely that you will work your way up to high positions.



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Joyce T. thanks for your comment. Totally agree! Experience should mean more than that piece of paper saying that you graduated. Sadly, it's not always the case. But, if things work the way @James Greene Sr. commented on, i.e. free education - employers just might start sitting up and taking notice of that experience more so than that diploma. It will be interesting to watch and see how things turn out as far as getting a free college education!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @James Greene Sr. thanks for your comment. I kind of disagree about free college education. A person who gets handed a free ride in college will never appreciate it as much as one who has to work for and pay for that education. I imean - who cares if you fail that class? It was free anyhow. But, if you have to pay for that class, you are going to take it seriously; you are going to work hard and study. Then your education will mean something. As for a 4-day work week; they are great if employees are really willing to work 10 hr days or if they are willing to work 32 hrs/wk with minimal to no benefits. That's just my opinion. I'm sure many others have their own opinions on these subjects! Thanks again for the comment.

  • Joyce T.
    Joyce T.

    Degrees can’t help you solve a crisis in a pinch. Only experience

  • James Greene Sr
    James Greene Sr

    I believe education should be free so we can stop acting like knowledge is something for profit. It is in our best interest to employ everyone, Teaching them a skill to work in with a 4 day work week is better. Then they can make extra funds with their own business.

Jobs to Watch