‹ Back to Columns

Let's Be Frank

Shannon Wetzel

Dollar Dollar Bills You All

This year’s AFS Hoyt Memorial Lecture was given by Gene Muratore, Rio Tinto Iron America, during CastExpo’13 in St. Louis, and since then I’ve been mulling over several of his points, particularly one in which he compared the salary of a recent college grad with a liberal arts degree vs. the salary of a recent college grad working in a metalcasting facility, which is generally significantly greater.

My background’s in writing—not metalcasting, so I’m a liberal arts grad. But that degree was paid for in large part by summer jobs I held in industry (paper and food packaging). These jobs paid several dollars per hour more than the available office and retail jobs; I was able to save more and accrue less student loan debt.

Why isn’t pay in manufacturing jobs—including those in the metalcasting industry, salaried and hourly—talked about more? The general feeling seems to be doctors, lawyers and brokers make the big bucks, teachers, accountants and public workers make middle class wages, and those in the manufacturing industry are the working class living paycheck to paycheck.

How can we change that perception? Would young high school and college students be more inclined to consider a career in metalcasting if they knew how much they could make? I think so. When you go to career days or host school groups, do you only talk about the job requirements?  Don’t these students deserve someone to tell them, frankly, “You will make twice as much money here than as a librarian”?

Construction is backbreaking work, but the guys in my high school knew it paid well. Why didn’t they know that about manufacturing?

I would not have thought of applying for my factory jobs without a push from my dad, who would not have thought of it without a conversation with a member of our church. Once I learned the pay, it was a no-brainer.

We can be shy or coy about pay. Let’s not be. It’s one of the industry’s strongest recruiting advantages.