High productivity growth is expected to cause employment to decline, but many openings will result from the need to replace workers who retire. Production workers, who account for over half of all jobs in the industry, increasingly need training beyond high school. Machinery manufacturing has some of the most highly skilled—and highly paid—production jobs in manufacturing. Job prospects should be good for high school graduates with strong communication, basic math, and problem solving skills who can be trained for highly skilled production jobs.
All machinery has one common defining feature: it either reduces or eliminates the amount of human work required to accomplish a task. Machinery is critical to the production of much of the Nation’s goods and services because nearly every workplace in every industry uses some form of machinery. From the oil derrick that pumps out oil to the commercial refrigerator in use by your favorite restaurant, machinery is necessary for the way we live today. Thus while people never use or even see most of the machinery that makes their lifestyles possible, they use the products it makes every day.
Most machinery is made of metal, which gives the end product strength and durability, but which necessitates specialized procedures in production. Each part needs to be designed to exacting specifications to ensure proper function of the finished product. Techniques such as forging, stamping, bending, forming, and machining are used to create each piece of metal, thousands of which then need to be welded or assembled together in the largest machines. At each stage of production and assembly, extensive testing takes place to maintain quality control standards. Due to the great variety of machinery produced by this industry, firms specialize in designing and producing certain types of equipment for specific applications.
The machinery manufacturing industry is comprised of seven more detailed industry segments, as shown in table 1. Three of these make machinery designed for a particular industry—called special purpose machinery: agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing; industrial machinery manufacturing; and commercial and service machinery manufacturing. The other four segments make machinery used by many different industries—called general purpose machinery: ventilation, heating, air-conditioning, and commercial refrigeration equipment manufacturing; metalworking machinery manufacturing; engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment manufacturing; and other general purpose machinery manufacturing.
[ Excerpted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition - Machinery Manufacturing ]