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Depending on the region and seniority, some operations/manufacturing managers commanded a salary of more than $100 an hour in 2022.

Geoff Giordano

January 23, 2023

7 Min Read
Benjamin Franklin on $100 bill smoking cigar
Image courtesy of GettyImages/chairboy

As the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting massive workforce and supply chain disruptions showed, operations personnel are essential when it comes to keeping plastics manufacturers producing parts.

And, while the plastics industry showed remarkable resilience in turning on a dime to keep material flowing and produce life-saving personal protective equipment and COVID tests, the pandemic pointed up some glaring issues — like supply chain transparency — ripe for refinement.

Plastics industry operations personnel — from plant managers to QC/QA experts and procurement specialists — leaped to the fore to meet market demand under the most trying circumstances. And the career future looks quite bright for these indispensable folks.

In terms of duties, these experts are charged with managing many aspects of the production process:

  • Meeting planned manufacturing objectives, including production volume, costs, quality, delivery, and equipment performance;

  • safety and health compliance;

  • workforce development.

According to salary figures from the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP), operations/manufacturing managers in 2022 earned a maximum average wage of $108.17 an hour with an average of 10 years’ experience, a mean salary of $51.59, and a low average of $15. Regionally, mean and top average salaries were:

  • West: $61.73 and $96.15

  • Midwest: $51.25 and $108.17

  • South: $47.55 and $74

  • Northeast: $51.99 and $74.53

In terms of more specific roles, the 2022 Plastics Salary and Trends Survey by MBS Advisors noted the following average base salaries, average bonuses/incentives, and average total compensation for the following jobs:

Job title

Average base salary

Average bonus

Average total earnings

Facility/building manager




Manufacturing engineering manager





Manufacturing manager




Manufacturing VP/director




Operations director or manager




Plant manager





Product development VP/manager




Product manager/specialist




Production manager




Program/project manager




Purchasing agent




Purchasing director/manager




Quality director




Quality manager




R&D/laboratory manager




Shift manager or supervisor




Supply chain manager




Supply chain VP/director




Technical support manager




Technology manager




Tooling manager




Training manager




Considering the impact and expected expansion of plastics markets in the coming decades, a career in plastics industry operations is more attractive than ever. Consider these findings from the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) “2022 Size and Impact” study:

  • Plastics manufacturing shipments grew 0.7% a year between 2011 and 2021, and 2.3% from 2020 to 2021.

  • Plastics industry shipments totaled $468 billion in 2021 – and $600 billion including suppliers’ shipments to the plastics industry.

  • The plastics products portion of the plastics industry was the sixth-largest U.S. industry in 2020, as measured by gross output.

  • Plastics manufacturing employment grew 1.8% per year from 2011 to 2021, and 3.2% from 2020 to 2021 — outpacing manufacturing as a whole, which saw employment grow only 0.5% a year between 2011 and 2021, and only 1.5% from 2020 to 2021.

  • When suppliers to the plastics industry are included, jobs grew to 1.5 million.

  • Ohio had the most plastics industry employment in 2021 (75,100), followed by Texas and California (73,100 each), Michigan (64,300), Illinois (52,700), Pennsylvania (52,300), Indiana (50,200), Wisconsin (44,400), North Carolina (39,000) and Georgia (32,900).

  • In Indiana, the plastics industry accounted for 16.3 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs in 2021; Wisconsin was second at 15.4.

To help young professionals advance their careers in the plastics industry, the FLIP (Future Leaders in Plastics) mentorship program by PLASTICS pairs employees under age 40 with more experienced industry experts. The program fosters leadership skills, among other benefits.

About the Author(s)

Geoff Giordano

Geoff Giordano is a tech journalist with more than 30 years’ experience in all facets of publishing. He has reported extensively on the gamut of plastics manufacturing technologies and issues, including 3D printing materials and methods; injection, blow, micro and rotomolding; additives, colorants and nanomodifiers; blown and cast films; packaging; thermoforming; tooling; ancillary equipment; and the circular economy. Contact him at [email protected].

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