Although manufacturing often brings to mind huge, wide-open factory floors, it also includes small businesses. Manufacturing businesses can range from in-home bakeries to large corporations like Siemens. One thing most manufacturing businesses have in common: increasing use of technology. From roastmasters who use programmable coffee roasting machines to industrial engineering technicians who operate 3-D printers that make metal parts, manufacturing is quite different than it was even a decade ago.

Manufacturing workers change materials, substances, or components into new products. Manufactured goods include or are made from chemicals, computers and electronics, fabricated metal products, food, machinery, plastics and rubber products, or transportation equipment. While businesses still hire workers for traditional mass production of simple products, manufacturing jobs increasingly use technologies that enable workers to customize, shorten production time, and create lighter weight, more durable products.

Manufacturing includes occupations with a variety of education and experience backgrounds, but job numbers have been decreasing in occupations that require the least amount of education. North Carolina’s growth careers in manufacturing often involve installing, maintaining, and repairing increasingly technical equipment. Industries most likely to hire this cluster’s workers include temporary service agencies, poultry processing plants, and furniture and drug manufacturers.

Print Career Cluster

Core Skills

The following Core Skills are necessary for success in these occupations.

  • Repairing - Repairing machines or systems using the right tools
  • Equipment Maintenance - Planning and doing the basic maintenance on equipment
  • Installation - Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs
  • Equipment Selection - Deciding what kind of tools and equipment are needed to do a job
  • Troubleshooting - Figuring out what is causing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs to not work
  • Operation & Control - Using equipment or systems
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working
  • Quality Control Analysis - Testing how well a product or service works
  • Technology Design - Making equipment and technology useful for customers
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements

Career Pathways

Career Story

Antonio DePaz

Central Carolina Community College

A.A.S., Laser and Photonics Technology

"I wouldn't be where I am at today without the support from my instructors and all of the CCCC staff."

While finishing Central Carolina Community College's Laser and Photonics Technology (LPT) program, Antonio DePaz was faced with the same problem many of the LPT graduates face, "Which job should I take?"

DePaz worked hard, and prepared well – and the offers came one after another. He was first given opportunities to stay local, but after much thought, he decided he wanted to explore opportunities in other parts of the country.

So, for several weeks, Antonio flew around the country interviewing with a variety of companies. After much research and thought, DePaz accepted an offer from LSP Technologies in Dublin, Ohio. LSP Technologies makes laser systems that are sold all over the world.

"The education I received from CCCC has helped me in my current job by exposing me to the work environment, real situations, tools, and lasers during most of my schooling that I now use at my job," says DePaz. "I learned more than enough to understand the language that is used in the laser field and that helps me a lot now to understand and learn new things easier."

DePaz notes that CCCC was a great and fun experience.

"I wouldn't be where I am at today without the support from my instructors and all of the CCCC staff," he says. "My advice to anyone interested in attending CCCC is that they will not regret it. Any program that you decide to be a part of will help to teach and prepare you for your future job. You will meet new people, make new friends, and you and your classmates will become a family, which will help you learn easier and better prepare you for your future job."

Go to Career Cluster Matrix to find occupations by cluster and interest type.