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7 Key Job Categories Driving the Future of the Manufacturing Industry

FactoryFix has identified seven key job categories that will be essential for the growth and success of the manufacturing industry in the coming years, as companies look to address skills gaps, adapt to technological advancements, and build a capable workforce to meet future demands.

According to a recent 2024 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the US manufacturing industry is poised for significant growth in the coming years, with the potential to add close to 4 million new jobs between 2024 and 2033. However, it also came to a troubling discovery: nearly half of these jobs could go unfilled if the skills and applicant gaps aren't addressed in the industry. After thorough analysis of the industry and its own network, FactoryFix has identified 7 key job categories that will be crucial as the industry looks to catch up and sustain growth.

Maintenance & Repair:

Maintenance technicians, mechanics, and electricians ensure the smooth operation and upkeep of equipment and facilities. According to the Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute study, industrial machinery maintenance technicians comprised over 270,000 employees in manufacturing in 2022, and these roles could grow as much as 16% by 2032. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) agrees, identifying the increased usage of automated manufacturing machinery as a large contributor to the projected growth in this category.

Across all sectors, nearly every manufacturing facility faces a constant need for skilled maintenance and repair technicians. This demand extends to related fields like warehousing & distribution, construction, and transportation, where keeping equipment operational is mission critical. As evidenced by the high frequency of maintenance job postings on FactoryFix, these positions are in high demand. Recruiters should prioritize prompt responses to maintenance candidates, as they are likely to be quickly snapped up by other employers due to the significant market need.


38,000 roles each year, on average, will need to be filled over the next 10 years in the Machinist/tool and die maker occupation. Despite the impact of technological advancement, the machinist occupation is expected to grow at a rate of 3%. The evolving skill sets required for different roles in this family are increasing growth for some categories but also limiting growth in others. The Tool and Die Maker occupation is projected to be heavily impacted by these developments. 

The machining job family often requires highly specialized skills tailored to specific machine types and brands. While recruiters may not always have in-depth knowledge of these intricate details, FactoryFix can provide those insights. Our platform catalogs a wealth of information about the unique skill sets required for various machining roles, enabling us to craft targeted screener questions that accurately assess a candidate's proficiency. By leveraging our comprehensive database and AI-driven screening tools, recruiters can identify applicants who possess the precise expertise needed to operate specialized machinery. This ensures they can hit the ground running from day one. This streamlined approach allows hiring teams to focus on production goals rather than extensive training, ultimately driving efficiency and productivity on the shop floor.

Machine Operation & Production:

Production-related occupations employ the largest number of workers in the manufacturing sector, and they will continue to play a large role in the industry. The BLS predicts a 4% growth rate for Material Moving Machine Operators from 2022 to 2032, which is about on par with the average growth projected for most occupations. Nearly 90,000 openings for these positions are projected on average each year. While machine operators will continue to have an important role in the manufacturing industry's growth, the rise of automation technology will likely limit growth in this job category. Higher-skilled roles in this category are likely to grow at a higher rate than lower-skilled/entry-level roles.

For machine operation and production roles, evaluating qualified candidates is often defined more by attributes like reliability, follow-through, and relevant industry experience rather than specific technical expertise. FactoryFix empowers recruiters by prominently showcasing "Engaged" applicants who promptly interact with the SMS screening flow, demonstrating a thorough and serious approach to the application process. Our platform also enables assessment of these factors through targeted screening questions that identify individuals with a proven ability to work on their feet for extended periods and adapt to dynamic environments. By leveraging these capabilities, manufacturers can quickly pinpoint committed, dependable candidates and build a motivated production workforce prepared to thrive in fast-paced factory settings.


The BLS is not projecting much growth in the welding job category, but it's expected that it will have to fill 43,000 openings on average per year. Welding has been particularly hit hard by retirements and will continue to be impacted going forward. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute's report highlights the efforts of The American Welding Society, which is looking to inspire the next generation of welding professionals by offering grants to high school programs that don't have welding programs.

With welding being particularly impacted by retirements and expecting continued workforce gaps, attracting younger talent is crucial. To achieve this, recruiters must combat misperceptions of welding as dirty and dangerous. Highlight the modern, technologically-advanced reality through strategic marketing showcasing safe conditions and lucrative opportunities. Leverage video content, virtual reality experiences, and social media to accurately depict these skilled, rewarding roles. By reframing welding's image, recruiters can inspire interest among emerging professionals to backfill retirement losses.


The automation job category contains an assortment of different roles, including automation/controls engineers, programmable logic controller (PLC) technicians, and mechatronics/electromechanical technicians. These roles are particularly important for semiconductor manufacturing. The BLS reports that automation engineering roles are projected to grow 5% over the next 10 years. It is projected that nearly 18,000 openings will need to be filled per year, on average. 

For automation roles, a candidate's expertise with specific machines and technologies down to the brand level is paramount. This is where FactoryFix truly shines as a recruiting assistant. For example, if you need a PLC Programmer, our platform enables you to quickly identify candidates with in-depth knowledge of Allen-Bradley versus Siemens technologies, for example. FactoryFix collects and organizes this granular qualifying information, allowing recruiters to spend more time engaging with skilled candidates who precisely match the requirements. This competitive edge ensures you connect with highly qualified professionals before competitors, giving you the best chance to secure the most qualified candidates who are highly coveted.


Quality inspectors, technicians, engineers, etc., play a vital role in verifying product quality and ensuring process conformance, which are essential to maintaining customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance. This job category is also projected to have low growth because of increased automation. The BLS points to the use of 3D scanners, which decreases the amount of time quality inspectors are required to inspect parts and finished products. 64,000 openings are projected each year on average for quality control inspectors.

Despite the projected impact of automation, the human element remains irreplaceable in quality control. Inspectors with critical thinking and problem-solving skills are crucial for identifying complex issues that automation might miss. Additionally, effective quality control requires strong communication and collaboration across departments—areas where human interaction continues to be essential. While automation may streamline certain tasks, the demand for skilled quality personnel will likely adapt and evolve alongside these advancements. For example, quality professionals may need to develop new skills in data analysis and programming to work effectively with automated systems and ensure product quality in an increasingly digital manufacturing environment.

Supervisors & Process Management:

As manufacturing processes become more complex, the demand for management-level roles remains high. According to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute's study, roles requiring higher-level skills are going to grow at the highest rate. Digital skills are also important, especially for higher-level engineering roles. For example, according to the BLS, operations specialties managers roles are expected to grow 11% over the next 10 years. These roles are important in leading manufacturing efforts, optimizing processes, and managing personnel to achieve production goals.

The best supervisors often rise from the ranks of production. Promoting from within fosters loyalty and deepens process understanding. These leaders have walked the shop floor, earning respect through firsthand experience. Investing in leadership development programs equips high performers with the management skills to thrive. This not only strengthens your pipeline but fosters a culture of opportunity and growth, attracting and retaining top talent. However, internal pipelines aren't always a reality. For those situations, FactoryFix can help establish connections with top operations management professionals across the US.


FactoryFix has leveraged its partnerships with manufacturers big and small and gained insight into the various roles that they are hiring for on a consistent basis. We are confident that these seven job categories will be crucial for the growth of the manufacturing industry. By focusing on these key areas and addressing the skills and applicant gaps, the industry can position itself for success in the coming years. Investing in training, partnerships, and promotion of manufacturing careers will also be essential to ensure a skilled and capable workforce that can meet the demands of the future.


Coykendall et al. Taking Charge: Manufacturers Support Growth With Active Workforce Strategies. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 04/03/2024,

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Department of Labor,