Careers in Manufacturing

Meet modern manufacturers

Hear from employees from Southwest Virginia’s manufacturing industry talk about why they chose a career in manufacturing and the benefits that career offers.

Virtual Manufacturing Tour Take a virtual tour of Appalachian Plastics, located in Glade Spring, Virginia

Generations in Manufacturing:Millennials Hear from Millennials working in manufacturing speak about how manufacturing provides them with a rewarding and beneficial career.

VHCC Manufacture Your CareerVirginia Highlands Community College hosted SVAM for a Manufacture Your Career panel discussion.

manufacturers map

Explore the region and see all the manufacturers that call Southwest Virginia home.

The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing PODCAST

Each episode we will hear from a guest about manufacturing in Southwest Virginia. Our guests will give insight into what manufacturing looks like today, manufacturing career opportunities, and exciting advances in manufacturing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about starting or continuing your manufacturing career in Southwest Virginia? SVAM has the answer. The FAQ below answers many of the common questions about manufacturing in the region.

What kind of pay can I expect in a manufacturing job in Southwest Virginia?

Actually, the pay in manufacturing is about $10,000 more than the average income in this region. At over $44,000 per year, the average manufacturing employee earns a comfortable income for a region with a relatively low cost of living. Of course, if you are starting as an entry-level employee, as is the case in most fields, your salary/per hour pay will be lower in the beginning. Most facilities in the region start employees at around $10.00 per hour for entry-level positions, with ample opportunities for increases, even in the first year of employment! Remember, if you have a set of in-demand skills or education, you may be eligible for higher paying positions.

Are there any manufacturing jobs available in the region?

Yes! Manufacturers are always looking for skilled labor! There are plenty of jobs available for those who can prove themselves to have soft skills. In fact, if you don’t qualify for an open position, but can prove you’re worth the investment, companies will pay for your training.

What kind of skills and education will I need to be competitive in the manufacturing workplace?

Increasingly, education is important in the manufacturing sector. Today, over half of manufacturing workers have at least some college education. These numbers will only continue to increase as technology continues to advance. There are great technical training programs around the region through community colleges and other providers. These institutions offer programs like welding, machining, industrial maintenance and more. Remember, the more qualifications you have, the better. If you are interested in pursuing a four-year degree, consider a major in engineering, technology-related fields or business!

What skills are in high demand in manufacturing?

According to The Manufacturing Skills Institute, the skills gap (meaning a shortage of qualified workers with needed skills) continues to increase. That means that one of the biggest challenges manufacturers currently face is not being able to find qualified workers to fill their positions! The areas with the highest shortages are technology/computer skills, math skills, problem solving skills and basic technical skills. If you arm yourself with knowledge in these areas, you will have a leg up in your manufacturing job search!

Do manufacturing jobs provide benefits?

Yes! Most do. In fact, around 90% of manufacturers offer health insurance and other employer provided benefits as options to their employees. This is one of the big pluses of working in manufacturing! Even as an entry-level employee, you may have benefits that add up to a lot of money over the course of a year. Money saved is money earned, right?

How many manufacturers are in Southwest Virginia?

There are over 300 manufacturers in the region. This ranges from small operations with two or three employees all the way up to some of the largest employers in Southwest Virginia, with 500 or more employees.

What are some of the things made in Southwest Virginia?

With 300+ manufacturers, you can bet that a lot of stuff is made right here in SWVA. Want a cool example? Tempur Pedic pillows and mattresses are made in Duffield, Virginia! In fact, Duffield is the only manufacturer or Tempur Pedic pillows in the United States!

What are some of the different jobs available in manufacturing?

What you’ve got to remember here is that manufacturing is a business. Yes, there are a lot of positions on the floor of plants in assembly, maintenance, and machining, but there are a lot of others also! Manufacturing facilities have HR Managers, IT experts, Executives, Chemists, Marketing Officers and so much more…

Are all manufacturing jobs moving to China?

No! Don’t count manufacturing out when considering your career path because of fear. In fact, the average American worker is 10 to 12 times more productive than the average Chinese worker. Manufacturers who may have moved abroad a decade ago are realizing this productivity gap and returning to the USA. Another big driver of the growth of manufacturing jobs in the United States is technological advancement. With expensive and high-tech equipment at risk, manufacturers want their work done by highly trained, skilled workers.

How do I apply to manufacturing jobs?

Most manufacturers have a standard application process wherein you fill out an application on-site and then go in for an interview if selected. Another option is to contact a staffing agency. They often specialize in specific types of employment and may be able to connect you with manufacturing positions.

Do you have any tips for an interview at a manufacturing company?

Like all interviews, presentation is everything! You can’t show off your skills or knowledge if the person interviewing you already has a negative impression of you because of a wrinkled shirt. You don’t have to wear a suit for every interview, but clean professional clothes are a must. Invest in a nice pair of khakis and a button down shirt, this can be your interview uniform.

Is manufacturing all manual labor?

Not at all! While there are ample opportunities to work with your hands in manufacturing, there are a lot of jobs available that aren’t purely physical. You can work in technology, business, management or a variety of other positions, all within manufacturing.

Are there advancement opportunities in manufacturing?

Absolutely! Manufacturers prefer to hire from within. Once you get your foot in the door, your hard work will get you far! Showing dedication and commitment to a company or career field means that you will be a prime candidate for advancement opportunities that come open at your place of work.

Do any women work in manufacturing?

Yes! Increasingly, women are becoming an integral part of the manufacturing workforce. In fact, some Southwest Virginia manufacturers actually employ more women than men! On average, the manufacturing workforce is about 25% female.

Is manufacturing work always hot and dirty?

No. While working with inherently dirty products (think oil and coal) means that you may get dirty as well, the majority of manufacturing jobs aren’t like this at all. Take for example the food and food packaging manufacturers, their facilities are literally clean enough to eat from! Don’t count on coming home dirty just because you work in manufacturing-there’s something for everyone.

I have a four-year degree, are there opportunities in manufacturing for me?

Absolutely. Manufacturing increasingly needs highly educated and skilled workers. Whether your major was in business or engineering, there is a place for you in manufacturing. From finance to research, there are a multitude of career paths you can take in manufacturing.

manufacturing careers

Did you know that manufacturing is alive and thriving in Southwest Virginia? The region's more than 350 manufacturing companies are currently offering exciting and rewarding careers to 17,000 people and they're looking for many more.

Want to know more about what manufacturers look like today? Check out our

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SVAM is a membership-driven organization, offering a variety of benefits to its member companies, each designed to ensure manufacturers have every resource available to them to thrive.

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