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Published
Aug 31, 2022
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Updated
Sep 19, 2022

10 Best Paying Jobs in Capital Goods

Caitlin Huston

There are tons of jobs available in the capital goods sector. Here are a few of the most lucrative positions and what they do.

The capital goods industry is an essential part of the global economy. There are many different types of capital goods, so there are many types of capital goods jobs. Capital goods are any goods used to produce other products, such as computers, vehicles, machinery or tools.

Most capital goods employers are private businesses. Jobs related to capital goods can handle direct production or supporting operations. In this article, we’ll cover these high-paying jobs:

  1. Machine Learning Scientist
  2. Director of Product Management
  3. Director of Research and Development
  4. Metallurgical Engineer
  5. General and Operations Managers
  6. Petroleum Geologist
  7. Principal Research Associate
  8. Quality Assurance Manager
  9. Industrial Engineer
  10. Manufacturing Engineer

There are many lucrative opportunities in this field; however, the compensation will differ based on seniority level, expertise, location and the cost of the product. Here's what you need to know if you want to pivot to a capital goods company or advance your career in this sector!

1. Machine Learning Scientist

Average salary: $161,000

Source: Comparably

A Machine Learning Scientist helps businesses create products or services by developing computer programs that can learn over time. Using these models, they analyze consumer behavior, identify patterns, and attempt to predict future behavior. 

In order to develop computer models, Machine Learning Scientists must have skills in artificial intelligence (AI), statistics and mathematical modeling. Interpersonal communication skills are also essential for people with this job title since they work closely with other departments (e.g. executives, marketing, operations, research, sales and product development).

2. Director of Product Management 

Average salary: $157,000

Source: Indeed

A Director of Product Management is someone who oversees a whole team of people who are directly involved in a product's creation. Product Managers–the people a director would direct–are responsible for the entire product lifecycle. They work closely with sales, marketing, manufacturing and customer service teams to make sure everything works out correctly.

Most Directors of Product Management have bachelor’s degrees, and many have master’s degrees in a related field. In-demand product management skills are data analysis, business development, communication skills and business development. Directors of Product Management tend to stay close to the production line, making sure that everything is running smoothly. With regards to capital goods, this leader is likely to have expertise in supply chain logistics, manufacturing and inventory control.

3. Director of Research and Development 

Average salary: $135,000

Source: Payscale

A Director of Research & Development (R&D) develops or improves products or services to meet unique customer requirements. R&D leaders may oversee the design, testing, production and marketing of these products. For example, a Director of Research and Development with expertise in clean energy innovation can suggest cost-effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of production.

To reach a director level, an R&D professional needs 10 years of relevant experience, an advanced degree and the ability to manage people. Developing products and services requires close collaboration with engineers, scientists, marketers and sales representatives, so interpersonal skills are imperative. Other useful skills include the ability to accurately forecast sales, conduct interviews and deliver presentations.

4. Metallurgical Engineer

Average salary: $125,000

Source: Salary.com

Metallurgical Engineers specialize in metal materials and processes. Within the capital goods industry, this is useful for the operation of related production equipment. Metals are critical to the industrial world—from building skyscrapers to automobiles to household appliances—and metallurgists study the behavior of metals to develop novel ways of making them more useful. They evaluate existing alloys to determine suitability for specific applications.

This career requires an advanced degree in chemical engineering or metallurgy, as well as at least 10 years of experience in the field. Metallurgists often specialize in one particular type of metal or alloy. For example: stainless steel, titanium alloys, aluminum alloys, zinc alloys: or iron alloys. A metallurgist engineer may work in a laboratory setting or in a production facility. In either case, they must understand the fundamentals of thermodynamics, heat treatment, phase diagram, crystal structure, weldability, welding techniques and basic physics.

5. General and Operations Managers

Average annual salary: $120,000

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

General and Operations Managers create, plan and execute business operations. This senior-level position is similar to General Managers, Operations Leaders and General Operations Managers. Depending on the company, someone in this role may manage the day-to-day operations, the entire operation of a company’s people and systems or both.

General and Operations Managers have bachelor’s degrees and several years of experience. Since business operations can vary widely, having the right experience is vital. The salary for this position varies quite a bit; the average salary mentioned above is specifically for US employees in the “Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods” category. General and Operations Managers benefit from having the ability to make quick decisions, think strategically, lead effectively and stay cool under pressure.

6. Petroleum Geologist

Average salary: $109,000

Source: Payscale

Petroleum Geologists are geosciences professionals who locate oil reserves. They measure pressure and temperature to predict where oil could be located. Similar professionals called Petroleum Engineers determine where to drill for oil as well as what kinds of well to use based on economic feasibility. 

Petroleum Geologist professionals generally earn bachelor’s degrees in geology, earth science, physics, chemistry, mathematics or engineering. Some continue on to earn graduate degrees. Required skills include knowledge of geosciences, data collection and analysis and how to make educated decisions based on research.

7. Principal Research Associate

Average salary: $104,000

Source: Salary.com

A Research Associate works with companies to help them understand their market requirements, develop strategies, and create business plans. A Principal Research Associate (PRA) will analyze the information they gather to present the department’s findings. PRAs may specialize in different fields within capital goods, such as chemical manufacturing or energy production.

The ideal background for this leadership role includes extensive knowledge of market research techniques and methodologies, including qualitative research methods, quantitative analysis, data mining and statistical modeling. Experience with project management tools, such as MS Project or Excel, would be helpful. The minimum education requirement for a PRA position is a bachelor's degree in either a science or social science field; however, many employers require candidates to have a master's degree. 

8. Quality Assurance Manager

Average salary: $100,000

Source: Comparably 

A Quality Assurance (QA) Manager sets quality standards and ensures consistent quality throughout the lifecycle of a product. QA Managers gather information through internal and external assessments to identify potential improvements. This role is responsible for setting quality standards. QA Managers identify potential problems before they occur, implement solutions, and train people to improve processes for quality control.

Useful skills for QA Managers include an eye for detail and the ability to quickly solve problems. They generally have a bachelor's degree and may have a master’s degree. To reach a manager level, a QA professional should have 3 to 5 years of experience. Some high-level QA leaders earn certifications from Six Sigma or The American Society for Quality.

9. Industrial Engineer  

Average salary: $99,000

Source: BLS

Industrial Engineers work in areas related to manufacturing, transportation, construction and utilities. Engineers may specialize in areas such as robotics, automation, logistics, operations management or just plain old manufacturing. Among the technical skills required to do this job are designing, developing, testing, documenting, analyzing, coordinating and directing the implementation of a wide variety of products, systems and processes related to professional, scientific and technical services. An Industrial Engineer must also know how to report their discoveries.

Industrial Engineers, like most engineers, must have advanced knowledge of science and mathematics. They have four-year degrees in engineering. Depending on experience and education, this person may supervise other workers performing similar tasks. Management-level industrial engineers often have master’s degrees and may have Professional Engineering (PA) certifications. Related skills include computer programming, process flow improvement, quality control systems and problem-solving.

10. Manufacturing Engineer

Average salary: $77,000

Source: Intuit

A Manufacturing Engineer uses science, math and technology to manufacture various products. Their work includes developing designs based on customer requirements, testing prototypes and then producing the final product. In order to minimize potential risks, a Manufacturing Engineer looks for ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity. Manufacturing Engineers may collaborate with other engineers and scientists to ensure the finished product meets expectations and specifications. In addition, they may need to coordinate their efforts with marketing specialists, sales representatives and human resource personnel.

Manufacturing experience and a bachelor's degree in engineering are required. A Manufacturing Engineer needs skills in collaboration, analytics and risk mitigation to succeed in this role.

Final Thoughts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 13 million manufacturing jobs in July 2022. Read on to learn about other opportunities in capital goods beyond manufacturing.

With so many great opportunities within this industry, your first step is to decide what type of capital goods job would best suit your skill set. Next, figure out what you need to do to be a qualified candidate for that job. Go back to school? Gain more experience? Earn a certification? 

Once you have your goal and your plan, your third step is to identify the people and resources that can help get you there. Be sure to include Teal’s Job Tracker tool on your list. Now you’re three steps closer to your career dream!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are capital goods?

Capital goods are products and items that allow people or businesses to produce consumer goods. “Plants, property, and equipment” is the term used for these goods for accounting purposes. They are also referred to as durable goods. Capital goods can be physical, such as coal, or utility, such as electricity.

What are some examples of capital goods?

Capital good examples include buildings and land, such as factory space or warehouses; equipment and tools, such as computers, 3D printers, or appliances; machines and vehicles, such as conveyor belts, delivery trucks, or forklifts.

It’s important to note that the same physical good can either be a capital good or a consumer good based on its use. For example, the oven in your house is a consumer good (assuming you are not using it to sell baked goods). In contrast, an oven in a pizza shop is a capital good, because it produces pizzas, which are then sold.

Should I work in the capital goods industry?

What industry you work in largely depends on your skill set and interests. Capital goods is a growing industry, so the job outlook is promising.

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Caitlin Huston

Caitlin is a career advisor who has been quoted in Business Insider, Fortune, Forbes, and The Muse on topics related to remote work and landing the right job. She’s also a freelance writer, SEO strategist, and content editor.

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