Plastics Careers Outlook
From its inception, the plastics industry has been remarkably successful. It would be difficult to find a market in the United States today in which plastics, either by themselves or in combination with other materials, do not play a vital role. Plastics are diversified, and the end is not in sight. Hundreds of millions of dollars continue to be spent by the industry each year in developing new plastics and improving existing ones.
The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), which compiles new industry information every few years, reported that U.S. shipments of plastics totaled $345 billion in 2004. This figure places plastics products fourth among the top manufacturing industry groups in shipments (behind motor vehicles, petroleum refining, and electronic components and accessories). SPI also found that plastics industry employment had grown steadily over the past two and a half decades. In 2006, U.S. manufacturers of plastics raw materials, products, machinery, and molds employed 1.3 million workers. The following states employ the largest number of plastics industry workers: California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.
The health of the plastics materials and resins subindustry is related to other industries, such as the automobile and construction industries. As these sectors show growth, so has the need for plastics materials and resins. Increasing recyclability is also spurring job growth. The American Plastics Council reports that 80 percent of the U.S. population has access to a plastics recycling program and that more than 1,700 companies handle recyclable plastics.
Overall, the plastics industry in the United States may see a reduction of employment opportunities if American companies continue to move production to other countries to take advantage of cheap labor and less stringent environmental laws.
Related Career Fields:
- Ceramic Engineers
- Chemical Engineers
- Chemical Technicians
- Cost Estimators
- Industrial Chemicals Workers
- Industrial Designers
- Industrial Engineering Technicians
- Industrial Engineers
- Machine Tool Operators
- Mechanical Engineering Technicians
- Mechanical Engineers
- Packaging Engineers
- Packaging Machinery Technicians
- Paper Processing Workers
- Plastics Engineers
- Plastics Products Manufacturing Workers
- Plastics Technicians