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Career Spotlight: Manufacturing


Manufacturing has changed a lot in the last twenty years and there are some great opportunities in northern Michigan to have a rewarding, lifelong career with great pay. Manufacturing jobs are on the rise, despite the downturns from the past decades. And here’s the bright spot – these jobs are higher-tech, higher-paying, and in cleaner work environments than ever before. These jobs are also year-round, full-time, and most provide benefits like health insurance, paid time off, and retirement. 




Opportunities Abundant in CAD Careers in Manufacturing Sector

Northern Michigan companies are in need of computer aided design professionals (CAD). Over 150 students from schools in the Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District toured three businesses in Cadillac to learn about careers in computer aided design. Northwest Michigan Works! participated in the event which was organized by the Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech Center and Baker College of Cadillac, and included a CAD open house for the community.


Manufacturing Day

Local manufacturers gave tours of their facilities during the local observance of National Manufacturing Day. This regional event, hosted by Northwestern Michigan College, gave 250 high school students the opportunity to tour manufacturing facilities and learn about careers in manufacturing. 



About Manufacturing - a Student Video Challenge

Some of the manufacturing career opportunities are showcased in this video produced by Boyne City High School students for the Northwest Michigan Education Advisory Group's Student Video Challenge


Learn About Saber Tool Company

Saber Tool Company is a precision manufacturing business with 20 employees in Cadillac, Michigan. The company does a wide variety of work for more than 250 customers. Watch the video to find out more.


Meet a Welder Mechanic and a Lab Analyst

Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties in Manistee, Michigan manufactures magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide for use in a variety of environmental, industrial, and chemical applications. Plant operators say their employees need higher skill levels than they did in the past. Watch the video to learn more about the skills workers need for today's manufacturing jobs.


Annual Pay in Manufacturing Jobs in Northwest Michigan

Manufacturing jobs pay more than jobs in most other industries. Manufacturing workers earn, on average, almost $18,000 more annually than other workers.


Education Level     Advanced Manufacturing  

Entry Level
Wage Range*

High School Diploma
and some







Sewing Machine Operators





Vocational or
Associate’s Degree

Machine Maintenance Techs and Industrial Mechanics






Mechanical Technicians


















Designers, Drafters (CAD/CAM)






CNC Machine Operators





Bachelor’s Degree
or Higher

Engineers: Mechanical, Quality, Process, Design, Mechatronics, Biomedical, Industrial






Sales Representatives (Manufacturing and Wholesale)


(including commission)

*Experience, longevity, and market conditions often result in higher wages.
Source: Northwest Michigan Hot Jobs Report 2015, Networks Northwest, Northwest Michigan Works!, Framework for Our Future


Job Outlook in Northwest Michigan

The manufacturing industry currently employs 14,000 individuals at nearly 500 businesses in Northwest Michigan. Seventy percent of manufacturing jobs in the region are located in Grand Traverse, Wexford, and Charlevoix Counties. Northwest Michigan manufacturing businesses serve a variety of industries. There is still a large supplier relationship to the automotive industry, but manufacturers in the region also produce components and goods for the food service, medical, and energy sectors, for example. The top manufacturing sectors (comprising 2/3 of all manufacturing employment in the region) are Rubber and Plastics, Transportation Equipment (including aerospace and boats, as well as car parts), Fabricated Metal, Food, and Machinery.

Manufacturing jobs now require higher skill levels than they have in the past. Workers need math, science, and communication skills, along with the ability to adapt to changes in technology.

"The days of coming in to work and one man doing a single, repetitive job are gone," said Jim Reithel, the Vice President of Chemical Operations at Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties in Manistee. "They come in today and use reasoning and logic to make good decisions. They multi-task and do a variety of different things every day."

Please refer to: Career Skills for the New Economy and Northwest Michigan Hot Job Report


Manufacturing Jobs List

Here's a partial listing of occupations that are part of the manufacturing industry. For a more complete list and data, you may wish to view: O-Net Online for national data.


Manufacturing Engineers

Manufacturing Engineering Technologists

Manufacturing Production Technicians

Electrical Engineers

Industrial Engineers

Industrial Production Managers

Industrial Engineering Technicians

Engine and Other Machine Assemblers

Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing

Materials Engineers

Commercial and Industrial Designers

Sales Representatives

Mechanical Engineers

Semiconductor Processors

Electronics Engineers, Except Computer

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine
Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers

Potters, Manufacturing

Textile Bleaching and Dyeing Machine Operators and Tenders

Production, Planning, and Expediting Clerks

Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers

Mechanical Drafters


Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers

Team Assemblers

Grinding, Lapping, Polishing, and Buffing Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Crushing, Grinding, and Polishing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Industrial Engineering Technologists

First-Line Supervisors/Managers of
Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers

Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic

Forging Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Shoe Machine Operators and Tenders

Textile Cutting Machine Setters,
Operators, and Tenders

Textile Winding, Twisting, and Drawing Out Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Chemical Plant and System Operators Cutting and Slicing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Cementing and Gluing Machine
Operators and Tenders

Helpers--Production Workers

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and
Material Movers, Hand

Chemical Engineers

Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Heat Treating Equipment Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic


Numerical Tool and Process Control Programmers

Extruding and Drawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal, Plastic

Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Bindery Workers

Prepress Technicians and Workers

Separating, Filtering, Clarifying,
Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Mixing and Blending Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Extruding, Forming, Pressing, and
Compacting Machine Setters,
Operators, and Tenders

Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders

Coating, Painting, and Spraying
Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Engineering Managers

Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary


Food Cooking Machine Operators
and Tenders

Rolling Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Multiple Machine Tool Setters,
Operators, and Tenders, Metal
and Plastic

Plating and Coating Machine Setters, Operators, and
Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Printing Machine Operators

Extruding and Forming Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Synthetic and Glass Fibers

Sawing Machine Setters, Operators,
and Tenders

Woodworking Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Timing Device Assemblers, Adjusters, and Calibrators

Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal, Plastic

Stone Cutters and Carvers,

General and Operations Managers

Photonics Technicians

Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary

File Clerks

First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Production and Operating Workers

Assemblers and Fabricators

Food and Tobacco Roasting, Baking, and Drying Machine Operators and Tenders

Drilling and Boring Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal, Plastic

Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

Pressers, Textile, Garment, and
Related Materials

Paper Goods Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders

Production Workers

First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Helpers, Laborers, and Material Movers, Handlers

Manufactured Building and Mobile
Home Installers

Computer Hardware Engineers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

Food Batchmakers

Biochemical Engineers


Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians

Model Makers, Metal and Plastic

Aerospace Engineers

Purchasing Agents, Except Wholesale, Retail, and Farm Products

Cost Estimators

Security Management Specialists

Microsystems Engineers

Agricultural Engineers

Grinding and Polishing Workers, Hand

Managers, All Other

Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electronic Drafters


Cutters and Trimmers, Hand

Nuclear Engineers

Electrical Engineering Technicians


Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Inspectors, Testers, Sorters,
Samplers, and Weighers

Northwest Michigan Works! is Supported by the State of Michigan and is a proud partner of the American Job Center Network.


The professionals at Networks Northwest help our City Council, Planning Commission, and staff make thoughtful decisions to ensure our community is sustainable and resilient for many years to come.

Mark Heydlauff, Charlevoix City Manager