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I Want To Work In … Manufacturing, Production and Quality Control

At its simplest, manufacturing involves turning raw materials into finished products. It involves a wide range of industries and career opportunities most obviously in engineering and technology but many of the employers listed below also recruit graduates in any discipline into areas such as finance, sales, marketing, purchasing, supply chain management, human resource management and customer services.

Production involves the technical and supervisory planning and control of scientific manufacturing plants, along with the design, development and implementation of systems and procedures of ensuring products are of specified quality.

For further information see the Prospects Occupational Profiles in manufacturing and production

PROFILE: Production Manager

Manages the production process. Manages the production workers & maintains good industrial relations. Plans production schedules. Ensures that machinery, staff & materials are efficiently utilised. Monitors health & safety & environmental issues. Liaises with other functions such as marketing, research & finance.
EMPLOYERS: Most larger manufacturing companies
RELATED JOBS: retail management, hotel & catering management, logistics manager, purchasing manager.
SATISFACTIONS: Satisfaction of seeing finished products that you've created. Leading & motivating a team. Making decisions.
NEGATIVES: Shift & weekend work possible. Have to work to deadlines. Working environment may be noisy & dirty.
SKILLS: planning & organising, leading, co-operating, decision-making, negotiating, practical ability.
ADVANCEMENT: From assistant manager to manager & on to production director.
DEGREE: Any degree subject - but science or engineering usually preferred.
TIPS: Get a vacation job in a factory.
Develop computing skills.
Talk to a production manager if possible.
Can enter via research & development or other functions.


PROFILE: Development Engineer

Checks the performance of products & systems against specifications. Designs test procedures. Conducts tests & records results. Proposes modifications. Writes reports
EMPLOYERS: Engineering companies e.g. defence contractors, Government laboratories, public utilities, universities.
RELATED JOBS: design engineer, research scientist, technical author, broadcast engineer.
SATISFACTIONS: Satisfaction of seeing a finished product that you helped to produce. Intellectual Challenge. Working in a team.
NEGATIVES: Occasionally projects may be abandoned before completion.
SKILLS: analysing, investigating, problem solving, co-operating.
ADVANCEMENT: Can move on to senior engineer or to technical sales, consultancy or production
DEGREE: electronics, computing, computer systems, physics, engineering.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: Not required but relevant Masters may help for physics graduates
VACANCY SOURCES: Careers Service Vacancy Lists. The Engineer. Recruitment Agencies.
TIPS: If possible get relevant sandwich or vacation placements with companies.
Choose course projects carefully so they have relevance to the type of work you wish to enter.
Apply early in your final year for graduate training schemes with major engineering companies.


PROFILE: Quality Assurance Manager

Works in manufacturing to make sure that products are of good quality & suitable for their purpose. Agrees standards & product specifications, carries out tests on sample products, writes reports, liaises with managers.
EMPLOYERS: engineering companies, food companies, pharmaceutical companies.
RELATED JOBS: food scientist, quality engineer, production manager, development engineer.
SATISFACTIONS: Contributing to a finished product.
NEGATIVES: Can be a lot of routine testing early in career. May be on-call for 24 hours in some settings.
SKILLS: analysing, investigating.
ADVANCEMENT: Either to more senior management positions in quality assurance or into production management.
DEGREE: Any degree subject can be accepted, but engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, food science, clothing & textiles, & business studies degrees are likely to be preferred.
VACANCY SOURCES: Careers Service vacancy lists, national papers, recruitment agencies
TIPS: Apply early in your final year for trainee positions. Can be demanding physically.


PROFILE: Health & Safety Officer

INVOLVES: Advising employers on legal safety aspects of their work. Conducting inspections, assessing hazards, writing reports, make recommendations & chair meetings.
EMPLOYERS: Most medium to large companies in both the public & private sector.
RELATED JOBS: environmental health officer, health & safety inspector, trading standards officer, personnel officer.
SATISFACTIONS: Effecting positive change in the workplace. Reducing number of injuries recorded. Working as part of a close knit team.
NEGATIVES: Writing endless reports, Attitude of some staff toward health & safety issues.
SKILLS: attention to detail, communication - written & verbal, numeracy, persuasion, planning, negotiation.
ADVANCEMENT: Health & Safety Officer to Director of Health & Safety.
DEGREE: Any degree - Occupational Hygiene in particular although this is rare. Science also.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: Diploma or Certificate of the British Examining & Registration Board in Occupational Hygiene (BERBOH) is useful, but not essential.
VACANCY SOURCES: Internal vacancies of employing organisation. Local press. The Guardian (Wed).
TIPS: Health & Safety Officers rarely start their working life as such.
Employment in a Science or Personnel role is typically then followed by internal appointment to a H & S role.

Some manufacturing employers:

Further Information

See also our pages on specialist areas, such as:

Last fully updated 2013

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