Approximately 78,900 molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, tenders, and operators employed in the plastics products manufacturing industry. Major plastics employers in the United States include DuPont, General Motors, and Owens Corning. Some of the top thermoforming companies are in Illinois, such as Tenneco and Solo Cup Company. Michigan has some of the top injection molding companies, including Lear Corporation. But large plastics companies are located all across the country.
After receiving your high school diploma, you should apply directly to the personnel departments of plastics plants in the area in which you wish to work. Online ads on job postings sites such as Indeed.com and CareerBuilder.com will list openings in the industry.
In the plastics industry, advancement comes with experience, skill, and education. Because plants like to teach workers their own methods, and because skilled plastics workers are scarce, most plastics companies promote workers from within to fill more responsible and higher paying jobs. Plastics workers who understand machine setup and the properties of plastics advance more quickly than those limited to machine operations.
Workers who pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in plastics technology have the best chances for advancement. With advanced training and experience some plastics workers may become plastics engineers or mold designers. Others may move into supervisory, management, or sales and marketing positions. Apprenticeships, such as in tool and die manufacturing, may also lead to more highly paid production work.
Visit Penn State's Pennsylvania College of Technology Web site at https://www.pct.edu to learn more about associate degrees in plastics technology.
Learn about the industry by reading trade magazines such as Plastics Today (https://www.plasticstoday.com) or Plastics News (https://www.plasticsnews.com).
Take shop or acquire a part-time job that involves working with machinery and tools. Familiarity with using machines and equipment will give you an edge when looking for work in this field.