Working in manufacturing with GCSEs (or similar)

Many entry level jobs in manufacturing are involved in the production of products, like assembling furniture on a production line or fitting components in a new car. 

There are also plenty of manufacturing jobs that are not directly involved in production. For example, you could work in areas like administration, purchasing, finance, sales or distribution. You might start off as an apprentice or trainee.

Example jobs

Food processing worker
Working on a production line to pack or process food.

Trainee furniture assembly operative
Piecing together furniture in a factory. 

Warehouse operative
Storing, moving and loading goods ready for dispatch. 

Window fabricator
Producing windows by cutting, aligning, and ensuring that pieces of the products fit together before welding.

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

Many entry level jobs in manufacturing start at around £13,000 per year.

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

  • Factory conditions can vary from hot, noisy and smelly to clean, cold and quiet.
  • You’ll need to work quickly and safely and, on some production lines, you’ll need to be physically active.
  • Shift work is common in manufacturing production. For example, you may need to work early in the morning or at night.

Qualifications needed

In many cases, GCSE-level qualifications will be enough to get you started. Practical subjects like design technology, ICT, art and engineering will help you to test out your interest in this type of work. Maths and sciences, particularly physics and chemistry, are always useful.

Career path

Apprenticeships or further qualifications at Level 2 or 3 should help you move on to become a technician or supervisor. Your employer might support part-time study alongside your work. If you can’t find a job, full-time vocational qualifications like diplomas or certificates in manufacturing engineering or food manufacture could help you get your foot on the career ladder.

Useful links

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Tasty Careers

Find out about working in the food and drink industry

Apprenticeships in Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies