24 for 24: Manufacturing’s Top Digital Jobs This Year

The annual list of in-demand jobs shows how the needle’s moving on the industry’s digital transformation.

24 for 24: Manufacturing’s Top Digital Jobs This Year

Mushrooming cybersecurity needs, an increased focus on sustainability, and awareness that “every business in every sector — including manufacturing — is now a tech business,” are among the top takeaways from a list of 2024’s 24 most in-demand digital manufacturing jobs.

That’s according to Rebekah Kowalski, who leads ManpowerGroup’s Global Insights Manufacturing & Sustainability research.  As she does annually, Kowalski spoke with MxD about the latest industry workforce trends and provided the list of the year’s hottest jobs.

From “data annotator,” an entry-level role vital for such tasks as refining artificial intelligence (AI) systems used in the manufacturing process, to “cybersecurity analyst (specializing in manufacturing),” the jobs on the list serve as a map of the moment and to the future.

“The pandemic showed manufacturers they could be stretched and yet be quite resilient in ways that they didn’t know,” Kowalski said. “And now they have to stretch even more. Manufacturers have to think about the acquisition of the talent that supports the resiliency that leads to faster adoption of technologies that make them more competitive.”

Just eight jobs from the 2023 list are back for 2024, including digital twin developer. And no surprise, with manufacturing being the most attacked industry, seven jobs are in the cybersecurity sector. They include “supply chain cybersecurity compliance specialist” and an assessor focused on the Pentagon’s latest Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), a requirement for manufacturers in the defense industrial base. 

“Manufacturers have to become very, very good at cybersecurity,” Kowalski said. “And it isn’t just about securing the modern manufacturing floor. It’s not just about how we secure the supply chain and the network, especially as we’re passing information across systems. It’s also distribution, design, and intellectual property. It’s everything.”

New jobs on the list range from the provocatively titled “premetaverse integration specialist,” which is a role focused on integrating digital assets and systems ahead of full realization of the metaverse, to ”malware reverse engineer.”

Overall, the list reflects an acceleration of the industry’s digital transformation, said Kowalski, whose other list insights include:

  • Sustainability is on the rise in manufacturing, “because it matters to organizations if for no other reason than being wasteful of resources is quite expensive for them,” she said. “Today’s digital tools allow organizations to measure, to be more sustainable, more predictive, and more resilient than ever before. If I don’t know how much water I’m going through, I can hardly be a responsible steward of the water.”
  • Job trends stretch beyond the factory floor to vendors and service providers who are bringing a range of skills to small and mid-size manufacturers (SMMs), Kowalski added. “A manufacturer might need multiple roles filled and have the money for only one person. You can’t find all of those skills in one person, but you can find them in a firm that can bring you those capabilities.”
  • Skepticism around the value of a four-year college degree “is not something to be celebrated, but it is helping manufacturing in that more people are willing to look at those careers,” Kowalski said. “Some manufacturing jobs pay better and pay better faster than jobs requiring a traditional college degree. And when we say manufacturing, we mean the production floor plus all the other spaces that have gotten a lot more exciting to work in like design and cybersecurity.” 

“This was always the promise of digital manufacturing,” Kowalski added. “If this was the place where the coolest technology was, then more people would want to be in that space. Everyone is a tech worker today, and the upside for manufacturing is that the employer value proposition just keeps getting better.”

Here are the Top Jobs for 2024:

  1. Data Annotator
  2. Manufacturing Analytics Associate
  3. Supply Chain Cybersecurity Compliance Specialist
  4. Cybersecurity Analyst – SMM
  5. Premetaverse Integration Specialist
  6. Remanufacturing Specialist
  7. Material Processing Technician
  8. Materials Engineer
  9. Robotic Process Automation Engineer
  10. Manufacturing System Modeler
  11. Instrumentation Automation and Controls Technician
  12. Maintenance Technician (Specializing in Automated Systems)
  13. Risk Opportunity Modeler
  14. Supply Chain Architect
  15. Prompt Engineer – AI
  16. Machine Learning Engineer
  17. Data Scientist
  18. Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Developer
  19. Digital Twin Developer
  20. Cloud Security, Information, and Event Management Analyst
  21. Malware Reverse Engineer
  22. CMMC 2.0 Assessor
  23. Supply Chain Analyst
  24. Cybersecurity Analyst (Specializing in Manufacturing)

See how the list compares to 2023 and 2022 by reading the related articles, 23 for 23: The Year’s Hottest Digital Manufacturing Jobs and 22 for 22: The Most In-Demand Digital Manufacturing Jobs Right Now.