Excellent Career Opportunities Exist in Overlooked Sheet Metal Fabrication
The rise of the Maker
There is an urge inside all of us to create, to do. This urge is what makes us human. The longer we ignore this urge the sooner we lose sense of self.
For years I’ve watched those around me, close friends & family, and countless more in my “generation” choose to “opt-out” of the tactile, hands-on, and often mundane tasks that come along with maintaining homes, or the cars we drive. The spaces we inhabit, we are losing that connection that I think and feel is vital to the deepest level of the human within. “Professionals” are quickly replacing this connection with the services they sell. The move away from maker/builder to service was set in motion long ago. However, there is now a slow and quietly growing resurgence of bringing the maker back.
Global economies are changing and in constant flux. Consumers’ instincts and wants are shifting. Supply-chains are shrinking with a push to source more responsibly, and closer to where products and goods are being built. Manufacturing is coming back they said. But how will it look? And what will it afford? And what does it mean for you?
Not all manufacturing is pouring hot, dirty iron ore, while Bruce Springstein pumps away in the background. As cool as that would be…
What can Manufacturing Offer?
Manufacturing encompasses so much more. Sheet metal fabrication has a lot to offer and can be an excellent choice of career to pursue. So who would benefit most from this type of work? Did you like working with your hands as a kid? Did you grow up playing with models or building sets? Do you have an ever-inquisitive mind for how things work? Do you know what a career that will reward you with challenges offers room to grow and continually learn? Fabrication might be just what the doctor ordered.
True, you won’t hear many requests for Shop Foreman, Fabricator, or Welder mixed in with Police Officer, Nurse/Doctor, Fire Fighter, or Astronaut, on career day or, God help us, YouTube Star! What’s worse, you won’t hear many career guidance counselors directing young creative types towards the manufacturing career tracks. Everything these days is about high-school graduation rates and college acceptance rates. The second hard truth, for many fabrication type jobs, and OJT the need for an advanced degree isn’t needed. If it is, getting it later, once a student has found an industry they enjoy and understand the needed degree to further their progression makes a whole lot more sense.
“When the point of education becomes the production of credentials rather than the cultivation of knowledge, it forfeits the motive recognized by Aristotle: “All human beings by nature desire to know.”
Grow with Advanced Technologies
Furthermore, fabrication offers satisfaction in making things that will last and make a difference in people’s lives. It provides the opportunity to work with advanced technologies like robots and CNC machine tools. Perhaps most importantly, it is a career where you get to think creatively, solve complex problems, and collaborate with people like you.
Industry experts have been sounding the alarms for years of a workforce skills gap. Not enough young people are going into manufacturing and fabrication to replace the older workforce that is getting ready to retire. With the changes in supply chains, and consumer wants, and other economic factors, there is more and more manufacturing and fabrication work to be done locally and fewer and fewer people to do it.
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, they are projecting steady growth in fabrication fields. A growth of 22% is expected to happen in the next 10 years according to the U.S Department of Labor. This is all due to an expanding economy, a current workforce aging out and retiring, and the other economic factors mentioned above.
So what exactly does a career in metal fabrication look like? Here are a list of positions available at Meta Fab and many shops with similar fabrication processes.
Press Brake Operator
CNC Turret Operator
CAD Engineer and Designer
If you are looking for a new direction in your career, or maybe a place to start while you see what works best for you, look into the trades. Find a local fabricator near you and see how it fits. Put in some time on the shop floor. Understand the environment, the lay of the land so to speak. Then, figure out what certificates or degrees will be needed for advancement, and then pursue what works with your needs.
Check out your local Manufacturing Extension Partnerships for more information: https://www.nist.gov/mep