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Is Capital Goods a Good Career Path in 2024?

A man wondering if capital goods is a good career path

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When it comes to careers, you may not have considered working in capital goods. In fact, you might wonder what a career in capital goods is, or even what capital goods are!

Capital goods are items companies use to produce goods and services. The sector covers a vast array of industries and job titles and often has ample entry-level job opportunities. But is capital goods a good career path? This guide will help you decide if a career in capital goods is right for you.

What Is Capital Goods?

Capital goods are the physical things a company uses to create finished products. Tools, vehicles, and machines can all be capital goods. Some examples are:

  • A bulldozer or dump truck that’s used in construction projects
  • Machines that produce processed foods
  • Paint and paint brushes used by a service provider to paint a house
  • Commercial aircraft providing transportation services

This is different from consumer goods in that consumer goods are not used to create another good. Consumer goods are the end product.

For example, cars and candy bars are both consumer goods when consumers use them. Both were made with capital goods (parts and machinery), but once you purchase the car or candy bar, you don’t create another product with it. You drive the car or eat the candy bar. However, a car can be a capital good when it’s used by a business. Similarly, a computer used by a family is a consumer good, but is a capital good when it’s used by a business.

What Companies Are in the Capital Goods Field?

Companies across a variety of industries are in the capital goods field. Some well-known companies in capital goods include:

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What Kinds of Careers Are in Capital Goods?

Because so many industries are in the capital goods field, there are just as many careers and career opportunities. That said, your job title or career path won’t say “capital goods.” Instead, you’ll work at a company that produces capital goods and contribute to the bottom line no matter your role.

Some job titles are more closely related to the actual production of capital goods than others. For example, you may work in a marketing or sales role at a company that produces machine parts. That means you’re working in capital goods. However, your specific contribution is not creating the parts as much as it is selling the products or drumming up new business. Common job titles at capital goods companies include:

Are you wondering, what do capital goods jobs pay? The answer is: just about anything!

For example, if you work as a civil engineer, your salary would likely be anywhere from $61,040 to $138,690, depending on your experience level. But if you work as a business developer you may earn anywhere from $89,000 to $162,000 a year.

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How Many Jobs Are Available in Capital Goods?

Because the capital goods industry is so wide-reaching and includes so many career paths, it’s difficult to say precisely how many jobs are available in capital goods. By some estimates, there may be as many as 1.3 million jobs available in capital goods in the U.S.

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a breakdown of “production occupations,” specifically defined as workers who “operate machines and other equipment to assemble goods or distribute energy.” While the BLS includes job titles in both capital and consumer goods industries, overall employment in these occupations will likely decline between 2022 and 2032. However, the BLS also says that despite overall employment dropping, the industry will need to hire replacement workers and projects there will be 933,000 openings each year.

On the other hand, industrial production manager job openings are expected to grow 2% between 2022 and 2032 with 3,600 openings per year. Jobs for industrial engineers, who often analyze and design production processes and facilities for capital goods companies, are projected to grow 12% over the same period.

Is Capital Goods a Good Career Path?

With such a wide range of job titles, salaries, and industries to work in, capital goods is often a good career path. You can pursue almost any career that interests you and work in a variety of industries. But is capital goods a good career path for you? Here are some of the pros and cons of working in capital goods.

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Pros of a Capital Goods Career

The capital goods sector has a massive impact on the economy. The government tracks orders for capital goods and this figure is often used as a measure of how healthy the economy and country is. And without capital goods, other companies wouldn’t be able to produce consumer goods, making capital goods a linchpin of the overall economy.

Because so many companies are in capital goods, many entry-level opportunities exist across the field. At most companies, you’ll also find clear-cut career paths with opportunities to grow your skills and move up the career ladder.

And the big capital goods companies are often very stable. While they’re not immune to macroeconomic forces, many companies in capital goods have been around for decades. They know how to weather tough economic conditions and remain strong because it’s likely not the first time they’ve encountered a challenging economy.

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Finally, for some, one of the pros of working in capital goods is that you’re part of a company producing tangible assets, something you can touch and feel. The products are used to help other companies scale their business and be successful, which can be a very rewarding experience.

Cons of a Capital Goods Career

While capital goods companies are generally stable and familiar with many kinds of economic situations, when times are tough, they have to adjust like any other business. That may mean laying off staff or cutting salaries and fringe benefits.

And even though the companies are long-lived, they often stay alive because they adapt and change to and with the times. Depending on the role you pursue, automation and changes in technology may make your job obsolete or reduce the number of open jobs in the capital goods field.

Another con of working in capital goods is the work might be risky or even physically demanding. While working in the marketing department isn’t usually considered dangerous, if you’re in the engineering department, there may be times you have to go to active construction sites to view or inspect the work. You may oversee a factory or warehouse environment around heavy machinery.

Lastly, capital goods companies are large and often set in their ways. There may be multiple levels of middle and upper management that have to sign off on new initiatives. As a result, change and agility can be slow or, in some cases, may never happen.

The Capital Goods Career Path Has a Wide Reach

The capital goods career path crosses multiple industries and offers jobs at nearly every experience level and interest, making capital goods a good career path for almost everyone.

But if you aren’t sure yet what your career goals are, take our career quiz and discover which career may be right for you.

Image credit: Canva

Rachel Pelta is the Head Writer at Forage. Previously, she was a Content Specialist at FlexJobs, writing articles for job seekers and employers. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, The Ladders, MSN, and Money Talks News.

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