Congratulations on your recent graduation. It’s an exciting time as young people make plans to head to college, a trade school, or perhaps the military this fall. Still others are unsure of where their future will lead. If you haven’t decided what type of career you’d like to have, you owe it to yourself to consider a career in manufacturing.

As with most parts of the U.S., there are more jobs in manufacturing in Northeast Missouri than people to fill them. This has been an issue for several years, and experts say that if things don’t change, our economy will slow down, hurting U.S. companies and their workers.

Starting a career with a good manufacturing company comes with many benefits. Most will start you at $12 to $13 per hour, pay for holidays and vacation time, and provide healthcare. Many will train you on the job and, importantly, help you advance your education by covering most, if not all, of your future tuition costs.

At Watlow, for example, many of our team members have earned Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees while working full time. This has allowed them to achieve promotions, take on more responsibility and earn more money.

One thing our summer student workers will tell you is that today’s manufacturing is not like the factories of the past. Most facilities are now brightly lit, comfortable, well-ventilated spaces. The work can be rewarding, and you’ll learn many new skills.

What skills can you offer? Skills that have been or will be learned through high-school trade programs like welding and operating machinery can go far in this industry. Likewise, people who are good at activities requiring dexterity like threading a needle, crafts, playing musical instruments, and auto repair, may have an advantage when it comes to certain production jobs. Or, maybe you’re good at fixing things around the house, or you are physically strong and can help move materials or equipment. Make sure you mention these things if you have an interview.

If you decide you want to go to a two-year trade school to learn manufacturing skills such as welding, machine tool building, and programming computerized equipment, you will have great job opportunities waiting for you when you graduate. Manufacturers will pay a higher starting salary for those with training, and you will likely advance faster, as long as you exhibit a strong work ethic and a desire to learn leadership skills.

What can you do to launch your career? We recommend you attend career fairs and visit company websites to learn about employers and what they have to offer. Ask about tuition reimbursement for technical school or college degrees. If you are interviewed, ask what it’s like to work there – including what products you will be creating and what skills you will learn.

Now it’s time to get out there and get noticed! Congratulations on your recent graduation, and we send you our best wishes for a successful, fulfilling career.

— Natalie Astorino, Sr. Human Resources Generalist, Watlow Hannibal

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