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Press Release

SME Introduces Certified Manufacturing Associate Certification

Industry-driven, nationally portable certification for dislocated workers, new-to-the-industry employees and students

SME, a nationally recognized certifying body in manufacturing, announced today that it has developed and will offer the Certified Manufacturing Associate (CMfgA) Certification. The new certification is designed for individuals new to manufacturing who may not currently possess enough knowledge or experience for more advanced technical certifications. This could include high school students, dislocated workers and individuals coming from other nonmanufacturing sectors who wish to pursue an entry-level role as an assembler, manufacturing associate or production worker, among others.

“Unfortunately, there are thousands of individuals either displaced from work due to the impacts of COVID-19 or newly entering the labor market while manufacturers still struggle to fill a variety of positions, many which do not require a postsecondary degree,” said Jeannine Kunz, vice president, Tooling U-SME, the nonprofit’s workforce development arm. “A CMfgA credential can indicate to employers that someone is ready to start on a path into manufacturing at the ground level. SME wants more people to join manufacturing, see the art of what is possible and pursue advanced technical roles also waiting to be filled.”  

Covering fundamental topics such as shop math, assembly, maintenance, machining, inspection and more, this industry-driven certification demonstrates that the individual has a basic knowledge of manufacturing. After earning the CMfgA, individuals are encouraged to explore a variety of available career pathways in manufacturing. They may continue with on-the-job training and further education to earn more advanced technical certifications and progress to higher-skilled roles.

“The pace of technological change in manufacturing is outpacing the overall capabilities of the workforce,” said Kunz. “The industry needs people who want to grow and advance. The career opportunities and higher-level programs to upskill and assess exist. Not everyone starts their first job after obtaining a two or four-year education, and manufacturing allows for upward mobility for those committed to their development.”  

SME has led the manufacturing industry in providing recognized certifications for over 50 years, including Lean Certification, Additive Manufacturing Certification, Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT) and Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE). There are many other leading certification providers offering entry-level programs in machining, welding and production. The CMfgA can be a first step and feeder into these more advanced certifications and careers in manufacturing with higher pay and skills. 

Rapid Credentialing

The need for entry-level workers in manufacturing has never been greater. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing jobs are expected to grow nationally by 16.8% over the next five years, and more than one-third of those jobs will be entry-level. Job candidates have many options for foundational training to help them earn entry-level manufacturing positions. Regardless of where they train, the CMfgA credential is an indicator that a prospective employee has a foundational understanding of introductory manufacturing concepts and potential for entry into manufacturing work.

“We worked with manufacturing experts and used industry research to determine the appropriate topics for a wide range of industries,” Kunz said. “The optional short-term training program responds to employer and educator requests for learning resources that result in an industry-driven credential in support of rapid onboarding programs.”

Candidates may pursue the credential on their own, work with their local training provider or access Tooling U-SME resources to prepare for the exam. Tooling U-SME offers an optional preparatory program of 25 online classes covering the CMfgA’s Body of Knowledge. 

Regardless of where someone starts on their path into the industry, there is tremendous opportunity for career advancement now and into the future as the industry continues to evolve with even greater need for higher level technological and cognitive skills.