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Hot Jobs: Advanced Manufacturing's High Tech Career Paths

What do you think of when you think of a factory? Some loud, dirty place where thousands of workers assemble the same parts over and over for 8 hours a day? Well guess what? We're not talking about your Grandfather’s factory anymore! Thanks to Advanced Manufacturing – the making of products using cutting edge technology- factories in Virginia and all over the US are undergoing some exciting changes. Today's high tech work environments are bright, relatively quiet factories that are almost as sterile as a medical lab. In factories like the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe factory in Prince George, Virginia, Chemists, Engineers, Welders, Information Technology Specialists and Logisticians work together to produce and deliver products of the highest quality. Watch this Science Matters video to learn more about the diverse pathways to a career in Advanced Manufacturing.

Manufacturers today are rapidly innovating the way things are made, creating new manufacturing techniques and scrambling to make sure our workforce has the skills needed to fill the jobs. This new approach requires a staff with advanced computer skills and specialized training to produce goods more efficiently on these new super automated factory floors.

How many jobs are out there? In the last 4 years, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, the US has added almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 12 million Americans are currently employed in manufacturing. Get this; one out of every 7 jobs depends on manufacturing in some way. And in Virginia there is a projected annual shortfall of 11,000 skilled technicians for career opportunities in modern manufacturing.

The types of jobs available in this industry are high tech and very diverse. For example, the Rolls- Royce Crosspointe factory in Prince George, Virginia uses the newest technology to develop jet engine turbines that are built into the largest and newest jet engines today. Lorin Sodell, Manufacturing Executive at Rolls-Royce Crosspointe, describes the types of job opportunities there:

As technology plays an increased role in manufacturing, a pipeline of qualified workers with advanced skills is critical to the industry. Our factory employs people from a wide variety of disciplines, all highly skilled technicians and engineers that have a lot of training. The pathways to pursue a career in this field are diverse. Rolls-Royce Crosspointe employs high school students as apprentices who have the opportunity to "earn while they learn." We partner with the Career and Technical Centers in the schools and bring on the best and the brightest to learn all about the company. Once hired, we offer apprentices additional college training toward their career in manufacturing. We employ graduates from 2 year programs at Community Colleges and graduates from 4 year Colleges and Universities.   I am frequently asked how to help young people explore manufacturing and other STEM fields. My answer is always to encourage them to find a VirginiaFIRST Robotics team and get involved.

People in Advanced Manufacturing careers play important roles in making millions of products that are delivered all over the globe. Now what do you want to make?

What skills do you need to get a job in Advanced Manufacturing? Do you like to...

  • Problem solve?
  • Design and make things?
  • Figure out what tools you will need to make something?
  • Work on computers?
  • Work with a team?

Not sure you have the skills needed?

What types of careers are in Manufacturing?

What types of products are made in Virginia?
Check out this Virginia Manufacturers Association video.

Virginia’s 5,000+ manufacturers employ over 200,000 individuals. Find a job and check out the salary:

What courses are being taught in Virginia schools?

Camps and programs in Virginia:

  • VirginiaFIRST Robotics is an excellent way to get involved with STEM. Find a team in your area and get started!
  • Summer Camps with Do it. Dream it. Virginia. Learn the skills and team work needed to turn raw materials into finished goods in a competitive manufacturing environment.

More great resources: