If you're looking for a job making or designing household items and apparel, read on to learn about careers in textile manufacturing and how to prepare for them. You have a variety of career options in this industry, from entry-level production work to top-level management positions.
Textile mills, textile product companies and apparel manufacturing are the three main sectors in the textile industry. Textile mills create the basic fabric and yarns used to make products. Textile production companies make finished products, such as towels, upholstery and carpet. Apparel manufacturing workers cut and sew fabric to make clothing.
The textile industry includes very labor-intensive jobs. As a textile worker, you might have to stand or sit for long periods of time and be at risk of injury due to repeating the same motion for the entirety of your shift. You might have to wear protective clothing if you work on the production floor. As a production worker, you might need to work evenings and weekends, since many plants operate 24 hours a day. Even management shifts could include swing, graveyard and weekend hours and require on-call situations where you'd need to deal with after-hours emergencies.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that textile manufacturing job opportunities are rapidly declining from 2012-2022, although rates vary by occupation within the field; textile manufacturing occupations are expected to decline 21%-27% (www.bls.gov). In 2012, textile workers' median pay varied by the kind of machine a setter, operator and tender worked on - textile bleaching and dyeing jobs paid $24,210, textile cutting jobs paid $24,050, textile knitting and weaving jobs paid $26,540, and textile winding, twisting and drawing out jobs paid $25,850.
Industrial production managers can expect the number of jobs to decline 2% from 2012-2022. Workers in this occupation earned median pay of $90,790 in 2013, per the BLS.
The BLS stated that employers generally prefer to hire production workers who have completed high school. Nearly all of your training takes place on the production floor. You need good hand-eye coordination and teamwork skills that include effective communication. Although there are no formal requirements to become a production manager, you could have an advantage if you've earned a college degree and have experience in manufacturing.
If you want postsecondary training in textile manufacturing, there are undergraduate and graduate programs available. A certificate in apparel production can teach you how to make patterns and operate the computerized equipment used in the design process. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in apparel design, textiles, business or production management could qualify you for career advancement.
A bachelor's degree program in textile design, textile technology or textile engineering could be a solid option if you want a 4-year degree before entering the textile industry. Some schools offer concentrations in apparel or textile design in a textile technology program. Textile engineering programs might be geared toward improving manufacturing methods and designing the machines used for textile production. A bachelor's degree program in textile art and design might include courses in weaving, fibers and computer-aided textile design.