Careers in manufacturing have undergone significant evolutions in the past few decades. As the technology on production-plant floors has continued to improve, so too has the quality of life for professionals working in the industry. As part of our, “Manufacturing Spotlight” series, which highlights the opportunities found within manufacturing careers, we spoke with Katie, a Machinist at MD&A Turbines.

Before beginning her career at MD&A Turbines, Katie was a graduate of the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (NAMC) CNC Machine Operator training program. Our interview with Katie began as a conversation regarding how the NAMC program helped prepare her for her first job in the manufacturing industry, but it quickly grew into an inspiring discussion on how beginning a career in manufacturing has drastically changed her life for the better.

The Start of Katie’s Manufacturing Career

Before graduating from the NAMC training program and beginning a career with MD&A Turbines, a manufacturing career wasn’t even on Katie’s radar. Like so many others, Katie held a few misconceptions about what a career in manufacturing would look like.

“I never even considered a career in manufacturing,” Katie told us, “I thought manufacturing jobs were probably boring, and mostly maintenance work.”

It didn’t take long for Katie to understand what a career in manufacturing really looked like. In fact, some of her favorite aspects of her job are in stark contrast to what she once thought a role as a Machinist might entail.

“I love that my job isn’t the same thing on a daily basis…It’s part of my job to know what needs to come next,” Katie said, “I’m actually excited to go to work everyday.”

Katie’s job as a Machinist has her working in the milling department.  One of her main responsibilities is operating industrial machines that generate manufacturing parts, many of which are used to power things like airplane engines and other crucial energy stations around the world. The skills that are required to accomplish her daily tasks include technical knowledge, computer programming experience, and precision, all of which are part of the curriculum of the NAMC CNC Machine Operator training program.

Her Experience With the NAMC CNC Machine Operator Training Program

The foundational skills that are taught and developed during the 320 hour NAMC training program, such as technical knowledge and precision, are designed to help machine operators succeed immediately on the manufacturing floor. The NAMC training program, which is a grant-funded opportunity, has helped countless people thrive and become gainfully employed after graduating. In fact, of the 459 people who have graduated from the program, 393 of them have been placed in jobs (so far). Katie is one of those people.

“The program gave me a solid base of knowledge. I definitely felt more prepared for my job because of it.” Katie told us.

While the program is tailored to help people of all ages develop the necessary skills to begin a new career, Katie made it clear that, as with any industry, you get out what you put in.

“A lot of people today aren’t willing to do the hard work anymore. The work ethic you put in is a really important part (of succeeding),” Katie said. As a result of the skillset she developed in the program and her willingness to be one of the hardest workers in the room, Katie, “started from basic labor and already moved into quality.”

Katie’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed at MD&A Turbines. In addition to moving from basic labor to quality, Katie is also a Level II Certified Weld Inspector, and a CNC Programmer Level I Apprentice. And while she continues to make advancements in her career, she’s also beginning to take leadership roles; Katie is now mentoring people who graduate from the NAMC training program.

An Improved Quality of Life

The quality of life that is offered by careers in manufacturing can’t be understated. With great average entry level wages (around $18.50 an hour) and a realistic path for career advancement (employees average $35/hr after working for 4 years), working in manufacturing offers people opportunities both in and outside of the plant. Katie has already reaped some of these benefits.

“I bought a brand new car in just six months after starting at MD&A,” Katie told us. She also said she’s been able to improve the quality of life for her four year old daughter. When asked what impact of the NAMC program and her new career in manufacturing has had on her life, Katie offered a simple answer, “My entire life has changed for the better.”

There is opportunity to be found within the manufacturing industry. With high entry level wages, solid paths for career growth, and coworkers that feel more like family members, these jobs have the potential to change lives. The NAMC training programs offer the most direct path to success and advancement within the industry, but as Katie has shown us, there’s no supplement for hard work.