Rubber Careers Outlook
Career growth in the rubber industry will be limited in coming years due to increased automation in rubber manufacturing facilities. In addition, technological advances are making rubber goods more durable and longer lasting, which may slow production somewhat.
Because an important part of the rubber industry is devoted to tires for vehicles, rubber goods production will always be related to the state of the automobile industry. When fewer cars are being manufactured and sold, there is less need for workers who make tires. The advent of the long-wearing radial tire, combined with the increasingly expensive capital expenditures needed to stay competitive, has caused some long-established tire and rubber companies to diversify into other areas, leaving the bulk of the U.S. and world tire market to the healthiest of the American companies and to foreign competitors. During the 1990s there were several mergers and cooperative arrangements among major rubber producers, and this type of activity is expected to continue. Experts predict that a major concern for the industry in the next few years will be overcapacity as new plants open in Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea.
The rubber industry is primarily concentrated in seven states: Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey, Indiana, and Florida. Texas employs the largest number of workers in the synthetic rubber business.
The increasing awareness of environmental problems associated with the huge glut of scrap tires has fostered research into recycling and retreading. In 1990, largely as a result of efforts by the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the Scrap Tire Management Council was founded to promote environmentally friendly ways to dispose of scrap tires. In 2001, the American Society of Testing and Materials approved new standards for tire-derived fuel (TDF). Approximately 125 million tires are consumed annually as TDF, reports the Rubber Manufacturers Association. The tire industry is also finding that shredded tires can help with landfill applications, such as liner material, closures, and gas venting systems.
Related Career Fields:
- Chemical Engineers
- Chemical Technicians
- Industrial Designers
- Machine Tool Operators
- Precision Machinists
- Rubber Goods Production Workers
- Tire Technicians