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Careers in this cluster

Cluster definition

Are you good with working with your hands?
Can you explain to others how a machine works?
Do you set up and repair stereo equipment for yourself or friends?
Do you enjoy reading the latest developments in electronics?
Can you visualize how a machine works?

If you answered yes to two or more of the questions above, you might be interested in considering a career in manufacturing, installation, or repair.

In the Manufacturing career cluster, you can choose one of several options. You might design a new product or determine how the product will be made. Another option is to make the product. The final option is to install and repair the product once it has been purchased.


Health, safety, and environmental assurance

People in the Health, Safety, and Environmental Assurance pathway help keep workers safe on the job. They make sure equipment is being used safely. They also make sure businesses are free of hazards and set up programs to keep workers safe.

Logistics and inventory control

For manufacturing to go smoothly, workers need the materials to make the products. If they have to wait, the company loses money. In the Logistics and Inventory Control pathway, you get materials to the production workers. You might order the items or check them in the company warehouse when they are delivered. Or, you might deliver the materials to the assembly area. In addition, you could pack and ship the finished products.

Maintenance, installation, and repair

Once products are sold and delivered to customers, workers in Maintenance, Installation, and Repair take over. You might install the product in a home or business. If there were problems with the item, you would be called upon to make repairs. Another option would be to make sure that the product is always working properly.

Manufacturing production process development

In the Manufacturing Production Process Development pathway, you would be involved in design and planning. You might design new products. Then you would decide and plan how the product is going to be made. You would work with production workers to set up machines to turn out the new manufactured goods.


In the Production pathway, you might work for large companies or small shops. You would create the parts needed to make products sold to consumers. Or, you would assemble the parts into products.

Quality assurance

The production process may have many steps and products can have many parts. As a result, the work of employees in the Quality Assurance pathway is very important. You would make sure that manufactured goods meet the design standards and work properly and safely. If there are problems in production, you might be asked to find the cause and propose a solution.

Level of education and earnings

The training and education requirements to work in the occupations included in the Manufacturing cluster depend on the pathway and the type of work performed. Some occupations require less than one month of on-the-job training; however, some operations research analysts need a master's degree.

The information provided in the table below, presents the level of education or training required to work in the occupations related to this cluster and the median wages for those occupations. Note that some occupations may have more than one required level because the type of work performed may vary in specific jobs.

Also, keep in mind that there are non-wage benefits that workers receive. For example, these types of benefits are health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. It is important to consider these benefits when you are looking at pay. Some benefits, such as health care, are worth a lot of money. You should carefully weigh a job that pays well but does not have many benefits against one that has good benefits and lower pay. Remember, how much an occupation pays is only one factor to consider when making career choices.

  National Annual
Median Wage
Washington Annual
Median Wage
Short-Term, On-the-Job Training (Less than One Month)
Coin and Vending Machine Repairers$34,560 $43,480
Furniture Finishers$31,950 $38,010
Photograph Processing Workers$29,180 $30,960
Production Helpers$27,730 - $29,560 $31,360 - $35,890
Sewing Machine Operators$25,030 $30,660
Textile Machine Operators$28,220 - $34,200 $32,630 - $37,630
Moderate-Term, On-the-Job Training (One to Twelve Months)
Airplane Assemblers$53,340 not available
Appliance Installers and Repairers$39,270 $39,670
Building Maintenance Workers$38,300 $42,610
Cabinetmakers$34,740 $38,640
Chemical Equipment Operators$48,770 $43,720
Chemical Plant Operators$62,060 $51,280
Dental Laboratory Technicians$40,440 $42,360
Electric Motor Repairers$42,840 $54,760
Lens Grinders and Polishers$31,830 $39,020
Medical Appliance Technicians$39,190 $45,730
Metal and Plastic Processing Workers$31,480 - $43,590 $34,930 - $44,820
Numerical Control Machine Operators$40,070 $59,100
Packaging and Filling Machine Operators$30,160 $32,020
Painting and Coating Machine Operators$34,800 $36,770
Precision Assemblers$33,660 - $44,380 $38,820 - $43,940
Production and Planning Clerks$47,580 $47,450
Quality Control Inspectors$38,250 $53,790
Sawing Machine Operators$29,500 $36,790
Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers$47,190 $51,540
Semiconductor Processing Operators$37,270 $38,650
Shoe and Leather Workers$28,840 $34,500
Small Engine Mechanics$35,400 $37,370
Textile Machine Operators$28,220 - $34,200 $32,630 - $37,630
Tire Building Machine Operators$46,630 not available
Tool Grinders$38,140 $59,480
Upholsterers$34,480 $45,480
Vehicle Painters$42,280 $49,200
Welders and Solderers$41,380 $49,770
Welding and Soldering Machine Operators$37,670 $38,590
Woodworking Machine Operators$29,730 $33,870
Long-Term, On-the-Job Training (Over One Year)
Cabinetmakers$34,740 $38,640
Camera and Photographic Equipment Repairers$40,620 not available
Gas and Oil Plant Operators$70,860 - $71,070 $61,920 - $84,480
Glass Blowers$33,340 $38,620
Hydroelectric Plant Technicians$57,100 $69,210
Industrial Machinery Mechanics$52,340 $58,990
Jewelers$39,440 $39,010
Locksmiths$41,450 $31,640
Machinists$43,630 $50,110
Potters$33,340 $38,620
Power Plant Operators$79,610 - $94,350 $93,330 - $109,150
Tool and Die Makers$52,750 not available
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Manufacturing, Transportation, and Construction Worker Supervisors$55,600 - $66,140 $60,480 - $81,040
Postsecondary Vocational Training (Certificate or Diploma)
Computer, ATM, and Office Machine Repairers$38,480 $38,940
Geothermal Technicians$39,320 $53,740
Home Electronic Repairers$38,160 $38,720
Industrial Electronics Repairers$58,110 $71,740
Manufacturing Production Technicians$63,200 $76,530
Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners$36,330 $41,340
Numerical Control Tool Programmers$53,190 not available
Wind Turbine Technicians$54,370 $64,500
Associate Degree
Medical Equipment Repairers$49,210 $49,530

Employment & outlook

Job opportunities in manufacturing are expected to continue to be limited in the future. Improvements in technology and production equipment means fewer workers are need to make more products. In addition, many companies are moving production to other countries where wages are lower.

Installation and repair will also need fewer workers in the future. Products are more reliable and need fewer repairs. Also, many products cost less that means consumers replace the item rather than repair it. Many stores are parts of large chains who provide repair and installation services. These large businesses hire fewer workers and do not use the self-employed repair shops.