Being a manufacturing foreman or forewoman, also known as an industrial production manager or manufacturing manager, combines the worlds of business and production. She ensures production goals are met while staying within budget, helping the success of the overall organization. Manufacturing foremen may be in charge of an entire plant or just one area.
According to the Occupational Information Network, a manufacturing foreman will "plan, direct, or coordinate the work activities and resources necessary for manufacturing products in accordance with cost, quality, and quantity specifications."
Industrial production managers are facing a slow or moderate decline through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top industry for industrial production managers is in plastics product manufacturing. Other industries with high levels of employment are management of companies and enterprises; motor vehicle parts manufacturing; printing and related support activities, and navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing. In May 2008, the top-paying industry was in scientific research and development services with an annual mean wage of $126,130.
According to BLS, most manufacturing foremen divide time between their offices and the production areas themselves. When they are in production areas, they must follow safety practices and wear protective clothing. Many manufacturing foremen work extended hours, especially during production deadlines. A third of workers work more than 50 hours per week. Some work beyond conventional business hours, especially within industries that operate around the clock.
There is no standard preparation for the job, according to BLS. Most employers prefer hiring those with a college degree in business management, business administration, industrial engineering or industrial technology. Employers will look for candidates with a business or engineering background. Some companies are willing to hire well-rounded liberal arts graduates. Experience involving production operations is often required; however, some college graduates are automatically placed into management positions. Some management foremen gradually move up the ranks and even may have started as production workers that have advanced to supervisory positions before finally being selected for management.
According to a BLS 2008 report, the national mean hourly wage for an industrial production manager is $43.85 and the mean wage is $91,200. The national annual wages range from $50,330 to $140,530.