The Price is Right

Connecticut manufacturing professionals take home an average of $79,456 a year, that’s a roughly $10,000 increase from where wage averages sat in 2007, at $69,368. Yet shockingly, private manufacturing companies are still fighting an ever-widening talent gap.

At an average salary of almost $80,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private manufacturing professionals make more than those working in education, health services and those in the private business sector. With so much money on the table, it’s a wonder young talent isn’t knocking down industry doors.

“The surge in this industry is consistent; there is a greater need than ever before for people to get into manufacturing and employers are willing to take risks on young individuals who have soft, 21st Century skills,” said Elliot Ginsberg, president and CEO at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT). “They’re willing to pay, and pay well, for employees both with and without hard skills.”

Entry-level pay: $25K-$60K

According to Ginsberg, employers are hunting for workers who are willing to learn on-the-job, and are increasingly invested in those who are career driven.

“Entry level workers are starting at $12-$15 an hour,” said Ginsberg. “And entry-level engineers make even more, typically taking home between $50,000-$60,000 a year.”

“They’re willing to pay, and pay well, for employees both with and without hard skills.”

— Elliot Ginsberg, President & CEO of CCAT

According to Ginsberg, salary growth projections will continue as long as demand is high – and for non-degree workers, demand is staggering.

“This is an economic pathway,” says Ginsberg. “You don’t need to attend an expensive school or achieve pricy certifications to succeed in manufacturing. You can get started with no experience, learn and grow on-the-job, and make money from day one. More importantly, you’ll gain job security as you go, and you’ll avoid accruing student debt.”

Ginsberg and his team at CCAT are encouraging kids and high school graduates to consider the many advantages the industry has to offer.

“Big companies know where to find engineers, and there are plenty to choose from,” said Ginsberg. “As far as finding technicians, machinists and technologists, we simply aren’t producing a number that meets demand.”

Mid-level pay: $62K-$80K

Not only are companies willing to invest in on-the-job training, they’re also providing monetary incentives for employees who want to grow and excel within their rolls.

“The salary cap in this is industry is high,” says Paul Murphy, chairman of CCAT’s Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership (AMEP) and president of Farmington manufacturer Mallory Industries Inc. “It is common for mid-level machinists to make $30 an hour, plus many companies are bonus centric and offer enticing benefits in order to attract and retain skilled workers.”

Manufacturing companies realize the competition is stiff. Mid-level employees have options, and competing companies will commonly outbid each other to attract, or keep, valuable players. Adam Lagassie, a setup technician at Technical Industries in Winsted, is no stranger to the allure of job hopping. He says on several occasions he was tempted to switch companies on the premise of higher pay and even better benefits.

“The salary cap in this is industry is high.It is common for mid-level machinists to make $30 an hour, plus many companies are bonus centric and offer enticing benefits in order to attract and retain skilled workers.”

— Paul Murphy, Chairman of CCAT AMEP & President of Mallory Industries Inc.

This is exciting news for skilled workers, whether or not they got their experience on-the-job. Not only are companies offering competitively high salaries, this lucrative industry is showcasing job security and growth opportunities in abundance.

According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, experienced workers take home, on average, $77,824 a year while hourly workers bring in an average of $37.42 an hour.

Executive pay: $200K-$15M+

Like Murphy said, the salary cap in the manufacturing industry is high, even for high-level executives. And unlike other industries, working your way to a C-suite is not uncommon.

“My dad was the head engineer at Colt Manufacturing, so naturally he got me a job working there,” said Murphy. “Back then it was dirty work, most days I had to change on the back steps to avoid tracking in the oil. It wasn’t exactly glamorous … but the more exposed I became, the more I started to like it.”

It didn’t take long for Murphy to land a job at a manufacturing company offering a two-year management course for employees. Murphy took advantage of on-the-job training which led him to achieve his engineering degree.

“After I got my degree, I was able to work in a variety of departments. This gave me a well-rounded understanding of the business enabling me to become a plant manager,” said Murphy. “I seized one opportunity after another and before I knew it, I was president and then CEO.”

Murphy wasn’t comfortable divulging his salary with STUFF, but he did confirm that his colleagues make well beyond six figures. “We’re talking a couple hundred thousand dollars, a year, in salary,” he said.

For an industry that is commonly personified by the hardest working generation in American history, one known for dirty, back-breaking, blood, sweat and tears labor, Murphy and his team are challenging the way students and their parents perceive manufacturing.

“We don’t hire people for their hands, we hire them for their innovation,” said Murphy. “A good manufacturing employee has both analytical skills and good communication.”

Hard skills can be taught – what manufacturing companies are looking for is a creative mind with a passion to learn.

“Currently, 180 employers are using entities like CCAT to find unskilled employees,” said Ginsberg. “Entering manufacturing is a career move worth making for many reasons,” he said. “If we didn’t feel that way we wouldn’t offer programs like the ‘Connecticut. Dream it. Do it.’ program created to inspire the next generation to get excited about this booming industry we call manufacturing.”