That’s a good question! Because of all the talk about jobs going to Asia you might wonder if there really is a good plastic injection mold making job left. The good news is yes, there are. The bad news is that you must be more qualified than ever to get one.
It is hard to find an injection mold making job because so many companies have gone out of business, causing the total amount of jobs to drastically shrink. Duh! This isn’t as dumb as it might appear though. There is still a huge amount of work in the overall mold making process, it is just more competitive. Fewer companies are trying for the same work, and more workers are looking for the same jobs.
I have seen exactly 5 apprentices in the last 15 years. This is not the case in other parts of the world, for sure. Walk into almost any larger US moldmaker and you will see a lot of 50-60 year old mold makers. There are a lot of younger CNC machinists, but not many mold makers.
Jobs in mold making due to retiring toolmakers
This lack of training is partly due to the fact that it has been so difficult just to keep busy, not to mention take on an apprentice. Generally it takes quite a while for the new employee to actually contribute to the well-being of the company.
Yet, if you can get land one of the plastic injection mold making jobs with one of the remaining companies and learn the trade, you will enjoy a great career with a lot of relative job security. It is the small job shop that has a harder time keeping apprentices. Those companies who embrace the global economy have enjoyed an increase in work, though it is much different than in the not-so-distant past.
Aren’t all the jobs gone to China now?
Even companies who have the bulk of their molds built in China have a lot of work in house. I’ve only seen a few Chinese molds that did not need extensive grooming to be operable. Often the simple things are overlooked and need to be changed in house.
Another common complaint is the the lack of proper mold making procedure in many tools. It’s a bit like the mold is close to correct, but not quite there, and somebody needs to make it work right.
A quick look in a mold making magazine or an job service directory will reveal that plastic injection mold maker jobs are in demand. Plus, many shops don’t advertise, but are always on the lookout for skilled help, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
It is much the same for injection molders as mold makers: there is still a lot of work, but many, many custom molders are no longer in business. This leaves the survivors competing more intensely.
Virtually all of these surviving molders face a shortage of skilled techs and engineers.
Look in the classified section of the molding journals, there are always skilled jobs available. Many of today’s youth avoid manufacturing in favor of financial services because that seems to be where you can make a lot of easy money.
This creates a deep shortage of engineers and technicians. There are jobs in Project Management, Molding Managers, Maintenance Mechanics, Process Engineers, Plastics Process Technicians, Quality Engineers, and on and on.
Where are good schools for plastics?
Besides the old school method of learning on the job, there are many excellent schools for learning plastics engineering. One good source of information is the edref website. You can find schools in your area for all the disciplines in the plastics industry. Plastic injection molding engineering jobs are always in demand and in short supply.
What about the job interview?
Once you find the job you hope to land, you are going to have to win against some pretty strong competition at times. Many times there are several other highly qualified applicants, maybe even 100 or even more.
An engineering friend of mine landed a job that had been “narrowed down” to 534 other people. You can increase your chances by reading this job interview manual. It is full of great, professional advice, and as a benefit, you will get some free bonuses.