Is Basic Industries A Good Career Path?

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A career in basic industries can offer a secure path, with lots of diversity in what you do daily. Basic industries are jobs that will always be needed. Without professionals in this segment, we would struggle to have some of our daily goods. Even housing would be at risk!

This article covers everything you need, from what basic industries are to what makes basic industries a good option.

What are basic industry jobs?

Basic industries, also referred to as key industries or even sometimes as the materials sector, are those that supply raw materials or products to industries that manufacture secondary or finished goods. It is a bit different than the capital goods industry in that the materials are of lesser value and do not have a future productive use.

These industries actually acquire, develop, and process the raw materials that many other companies use to make finished products. Examples of basic industries include copper and aluminum smelting, iron and steel, milling, wood, paper, and metallurgical.

These industries often focus on producing products for export rather than for domestic consumption and sales. Secondary industries use the raw materials these basic industries provide to manufacture finished goods. In the United States, you may find different types of basic industry job opportunities throughout the country.

is basic industries a good career path, like being a logger

What are some basic industries career path options?

Agricultural sector

The majority of the food supply chain comes from agriculture. This is where we get our meat products, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruit, and grain, which are value-added to create finished food and beverage products.

Most items in the agricultural industry are sold to other businesses for value addition, but some go directly to end consumers.

For instance, bread, pasta, cakes, and other grain products originate from the wheat farm; bacon, sausages, and ham originate on a pig farm; and chocolate and coffee originate on cocoa and coffee farms, respectively.  

Excellent opportunities in the agricultural sector include:

  • Soil and Plant Scientist
  • Food Scientist
  • Animal Scientist
  • Agronomist
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Commercial Horticulturist
  • Farm Manager (trade career)
  • Agricultural Production Worker

Metal fabrication

Metal parts used to produce industrial and consumer products are created during metal fabrication. This is a segment that is largely trade careers and many positions will not require any additional education.

For instance, iron and steel beams are needed when in the construction industry for buildings, bridges, roads, aircraft, and other large construction projects. A sheet metal company may produce metal, which is an essential component for car manufacturers, boat makers, and other types of transportation.

These are some prominent career paths in the metal fabrication industry:

  • Welder (trade career)
  • Tool and Die Technician (trade career)
  • Sheet Metal Worker (trade career)
  • Pipefitter (trade career)
  • Metal Fabricator (trade career)
  • Machinist (trade career)
  • Ironworker (trade career)
  • Field Installers (trade career)
  • Assemblers (trade career)

Chemical industry

Chemical production creates secondary products by transforming inorganic and organic materials using chemical processes. These chemicals – specialty and commodity chemicals – produce all sorts of consumer and industrial goods, ranging from plastic products and perfumes to cleaning products and artificial flavors.

Some of the items produced don’t use chemicals during the production process; the chemical solutions are essential in cleaning and sterilizing the equipment that makes them.

Some basic industry career paths in the chemical industry include:

  • Scent Scientist
  • Product or Process Development Scientist
  • Plant Operator
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Materials Scientist
  • Flavor Chemist
  • Energy engineer
  • Color Technologist
  • Chemist
  • Chemical Technician
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Biotechnologist

Oil and gas Industry

If you wonder, “is basic industries a good career path?” just look at the petroleum industry. The mining industry and oil and gas industry are both part of the basic industries sector and are extremely important to our lives.

The oil and gas industry involves the location and extraction of raw materials from the earth that can be refined and used to generate energy. Oil production is a big part of this sector and can provide well-paid jobs.

The mining industry focus on extracting minerals, ore, and coal, while employment in the oil and gas sector focus on natural gas and crude oil extraction.

Excellent basic industry careers in this sector include:

  • Geoscientist
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Oil Field Worker
  • Offshore/ Oil Rig Worker
  • Mudlogger
  • Mining Engineer
  • Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Geoscientist
  • Geological Engineer
  • Environmental Compliance Coordinator
  • Engineering or Petroleum Geologist
  • Energy Engineer
  • Mining Engineer
  • Miner (trade career)
  • Mine Safety Engineer
  • Mine Electrician (trade career)
  • Finance Specialist and Manager

Textile production

Textile production involves converting raw materials such as cotton, silk, linen, and other fibers into thread or yarn used to produce fabric. These jobs are located in textile mills and provide products for all sorts of consumer items, including clothes, upholstery, flooring, carpets and rugs, curtains, towels and sheets, furniture, automotive upholstery, cord and twine, industrial belts, and fire hoses.

Some well-paying basic industry textile jobs are:

  • Weaver
  • Textile technician
  • Textile designer
  • Textile converter
  • Print Manager
  • Machine operator (trade career)
  • Illustrator
  • Engraver (trade career)

Utilities

The utility sector – electricity, heat, and water – are also considered basic industries. These profitable industries are very much in demand as they are vital for other economic sectors to operate. For instance, agricultural farms, factories, mines, and other facilities cannot operate without electricity, heat, and water.

Some of the prominent jobs with utility providers include:

  • Wastewater Treatment Technician
  • Wastewater Treatment Operator
  • Utility Inspector
  • Utility Engineer
  • Plant Operator/ Technician
  • Field Installer / Technician

Wood and Paper production

The timber industry is incredibly large and works to provide wood to a variety of manufacturers. Forest products, harvested and taken through a complex manufacturing process, create the finished wood that builds structures, furniture, writing paper, toilet paper, cardboard boxes, consumer packaging, and other wood-based products. The paper and pulp industry is incredibly large and is filled with opportunities – and will only continue to grow.

The whole process begins with lumber and pulp production. These intermediate substances then go through more manufacturing processes to produce various products for the end consumer.

Well-paying and stable jobs in this industry include:

  • Woodworker (trade career)
  • Stock Preparation Operator
  • Sawyer
  • Pulp Tester
  • Pulp / Paper Mill Operator
  • Pipe Fitter (trade career)
  • Packaging Designer
  • Millwright (trade career)
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Maintenance Machinist

  • Laboratory Technician
  • Envelope Machine Operator
  • Electrician (trade career)
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Digester Operator
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemical Analyst
  • Box Manufacturer
  • Barker Operator
  • Logger (trade career)

Is basic industries a good career path?

Yes, basic industries is a good career path with lots of opportunities both in the trades and for those with degrees. Raw materials are always required, so it is worth looking into the many options in this industry.

cotton field

Why we recommend basic industries As career path

Economies rely heavily on jobs within basic industries because they contribute significantly to a country’s GDP. These well-paying jobs also provide excellent employment opportunities for people trained in production and manufacturing to earn a good living. As long as you have the trade certification and licensing required by law and keep technically updated with the certifications needed in each field, you should have a good career path in the basic industries.

People who prefer job stability would do well in this sector of the economy. Another bonus is that the jobs are satisfying and provide real opportunities for growth and promotion, often in one company.

People working in basic industries nevertheless face many challenges. The jobs are strenuous, and the exposure to hazardous materials and conditions is very high. But, because of these conditions, employees in these industries build valuable real-life skills, giving them the expertise and exposure that employers value.

Due to the ever-growing demand for materials to work with, jobs in basic industries provide few downsizing opportunities, making them a good career path for those trained in the industry.

What to expect when working for basic industries

A basic industry job tends to be challenging. Here’s just some of what you can expect when you get a job in this sector:

Very technical job

These jobs often require people with high technical skills. Although you’ll more than likely receive on-the-job training, you must keep up with your certifications annually to continue working in your chosen industry.

Hazardous conditions

Hazardous conditions exist in every job but more so in basic industries. Employees face the risk of injury and accidents such as chemical exposure and machine failures. It is essential to adhere to health and safety at all times when working in these jobs.

High physical nature

These jobs are physically demanding. Expect to carry weights, stand, stretch, and bend while carrying out your duties.

How to succeed in the basic industries

If you are asking yourself, “Is basic industries a good career path, and how do I succeed in this industry?” we have outlined some valuable tips to ensure you have the qualities and aptitude to succeed in the basic industries.

Good aptitude

Getting a job in basic industries is not that easy. Competition is stiff, and the training is tough to ensure only the best people qualify. Once you get a job in basic industries, you will succeed by having a good attitude, a proactive approach, and the ability to easily accommodate changes. These attributes are vital to surviving the everyday challenges these jobs bring.

Adaptability

Basic industries are tightly knit with the economy; if the economy is good, jobs in these industries are plentiful, but the reverse is also true. It helps to be adaptable and constantly update your certifications if you have a basic industry job to survive any economic cycle.

Teamwork

Most basic industries’ jobs require teamwork to accomplish huge tasks. Learning and embracing collaboration shows a sense of discipline and willingness to accomplish a task.

Productivity

Basic industries employees are also expected to be productive. Time management and multitasking in busy manufacturing environments are key to succeeding in this industry.

Related: View other types of trade jobs!

Basic industries pros and cons

As with everything in life, there are some pros and cons to careers in this field which are covered below.

Education

Many careers in this industry can be considered trade jobs. These jobs typically have minimal education requirements and many may only require trade school or on-the-job training. Most will require a high school diploma or GED though, so be sure to finish high school!

Security

In general, working in a job in the basic industries offers more security than many other paths because the materials they create will always be needed. Many of these companies also continually test and manufacturer new products that keep the opportunities alive and well.

Pay + Benefits

Many jobs in the basic industries are high paying jobs that provide great benefits as well because the careers are often in large international companies.

Physical

Most jobs that fall under this description can be very labor intensive. The physical demands can cause issues with health and wellness.

Economics

Just like any other industry, basic industries can be affected during poor economic times. While they tend to fare better during these times, they are not immune to potential disruptions in workforce. Because much of the items produced in this sector for housing, it would have seen some impact in the crash of 2008.

What You Can Expect To Make

Judging by what these jobs pay, most basic industries careers pay very well. These jobs are often more stable than other industries and usually, come with good benefits. But as with all sectors, some jobs are better paying than others.

Below, we’ve outlined some high-paying basic industry jobs and their average annual salaries:

  • Agronomist – $72,500
  • Drilling Engineer – $133,044
  • Chemical Engineer – $108,540
  • Electrician – $59,190 (trade career)
  • Forensic Scientist – $60,216
  • Health and Safety Officer – $54,000
  • Metallurgist – $76,456
  • Petroleum Geologist – $106,958
  • Paper Miller – $44,963 (trade career)
  • Pipefitter – $54,106 (trade career)
  • Steel Fabricator – $37,133 (trade career)
  • Truck Driver – $78, 029 (trade career)

View our what basic industries jobs pay article to get some more details on salary expectations.

What companies are in the basic industries field

There are so many companies in the basic industry sector it would be almost impossible to list them all. But, to give you an idea of the kinds of brands that offer job opportunities in this sector, we have included a list of companies below.

  • Cargill. A company that is well known in the agricultural and food sectors, and has a presence in more than 65 countries.
  • Chevron. As one of the largest employe in the gas industry, they are a major force and offer a lot of opportunities to job-seekers.
  • Dow Chemical. The creator of a variety of raw materials that are used in many industries. With a global presence they have a variety of opportunities for job seekers of all levels around the world.
  • DuPont de Nemours. A major player in several industries, DuPont provides raw materials to a variety of manufacturers. Their materials can be found in the automotive industry, industrial industry, consumer products, and electrical components.
  • Glencore International. A producer of metals and minerals, energy products, and agricultural products. They are worldwide and offer a lot of opportunity for those seeking new work opportunities.
  • International Paper. A brand that has a lead in the paper industry as a global producer of pulp and paper products. The items they produce are used daily in our lives in such things as paper towels, tissues, diapers, and so much more. They offer a large selection of trade opportunities from forklift operators to electricians and provide a great benefit plan.
  • Newmont Mining. The mining industry has its fair share of companies as well, with Newmont Mining being one of the most well known. They produce of gold, lead, silver, and copper. They are respected for their environmental practices and employees enjoy fair wages and great benefits.
  • Nucor. Known in the steel industries, they are a leading provider of raw materials. Under their raw materials division they also provides transportation, materials handling, and other services to those that use scrap metal. With good employer reviews and lots of trade career options, this is a great place to consider working.
  • Sealed Air Corporation. For those who love popping Bubble Wrap, then Sealed Air Corporation is a brand you should know. They produce that magical wrap as well as many other items. They have a variety of careers available and provide great benefits.

Final thoughts

We hope this post has sufficiently answered the question, “Is basic industries a good career path?” for you. The opportunities these basic industries positions provide are countless, and the likelihood of a solid career path is high. Whether you are fresh out of high school and look at a career option, or are looking for a career change, the basic industries is a great option.

Remember: Be prepared to face a challenging, tech-heavy, and physically demanding job if you decide to get into the basic industries. But, a steady, well-paying job and other financial aspects more than make up for these difficulties. 

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