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Northeast Florida is home to some of the most strategic and significant manufacturing operations in the world and employs over 22,000 professionals. With hundreds of industrial sites and two certified mega sites, global firms such as Northrop Grumman, Flightstar Aircraft Services, Georgia-Pacific and BAE Systems are among the top manufacturing employers in the region that manufactures anything and everything, including coffee, contact lenses, medical devices, aircraft engines, solar equipment, wire and cable, tactical armor, and batteries.

Similar to the evolution of the transportation and logistics industry, the advanced manufacturing industry has grown to incorporate technology, automation, and design innovation. Today’s manufacturing roles may require a blend of advanced skills and technical aptitude as the need to be agile and responsive to industry and consumer trends strengthens. This includes production activities that depend on information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking.

Because of those advancements, advanced manufacturers offer modern, technology-driven career options in multiple different career paths that are pushing wages higher. The average salary for someone in the advanced manufacturing space in the Jacksonville region is now over $78,000 per year. A career path that seamlessly integrates technology and automation is that of a Manufacturing Engineer. Manufacturing Engineers play a pivotal role in optimizing production processes by utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) software to develop detailed plans for manufacturing components and systems. Moreover, proficiency in data analysis is crucial for evaluating production efficiency, so a career as a Data Scientist is becoming a great area of opportunity. Data Scientists leverage their expertise in programming, statistics, and data analysis to extract meaningful insights from large datasets. Proficiency in programming languages such as Python or R, along with skills in machine learning and data visualization, are essential for this role. They play a crucial role in informing business decisions and strategy by interpreting complex data sets.

Despite the evolution of advanced manufacturing, the demand for skilled talent in the traditional roles remains as high as ever.  Some of the jobs in the highest demand are Assembler, Assembly/Production Material Mover, Welder Supervisor, Aircraft Mechanic, Electrical Assembler, Quality Control Operator and Machinist. Entry points to the advanced manufacturing sector include apprenticeships and certificates.

Alex James is a great example of someone who did not envision a career in advanced manufacturing but has found success as a Process Technician for Johnson & Johnson Vision. As a process technician, Alex is responsible for diagnosing problems with machines, completing audits and performing inspections. “Each day is different – I never know what to expect There are some days where you’re troubleshooting and diagnostic skills come into play,” said Alex. James is a graduate of the Johnson & Johnson Vision partnership program at the Jobs Corps Center. “There is a tremendous opportunity and job security in the advanced manufacturing field,” James added.

As you explore a career in advanced manufacturing, you can refer to our Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathway to understand the landscape and what you need to do to grow your career. Jacksonville is not just redefining the narrative surrounding advanced manufacturing but setting the stage as an industry leader.