As a child, most people were asked what they wanted to become when they grew up. It's a tough decision. Finding the right combination of talent, passion, practicality and job security is no easy feat.
You might discover basic industries as you decide what industry you want to enter. The field provides several options, so it can take some exploration.
Keep reading for the need-to-know information on basic industries, what it entails and whether or not it is a good career path.
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A basic industry is one that manufactures materials and provides those materials to other industries. Basic industries are integral to a country's economy, as they supply, process and develop the vital raw materials it needs to operate.
Jobs in basic industries are often labor-intensive and require various technical skills and qualifications. See some of the sectors below to see if a career path in basic industries might be interesting to you.
Agriculture falls under the supersector of natural resources and mining. Jobs in this sector entail crop growing, animal raising, timber harvesting and fish and animal harvesting. Any of these actions must occur on a farm, ranch or the natural habitat of the plant or animal.
This industry is irreplaceable, as it is the beginning of the food supply chain, which is the process by which food gets from its raw form, to distribution to people's home tables.
Common locations for jobs in this sector include:
While it is not absolutely mandatory to have a degree to enter the field of agriculture, many workers study the major in college and prepare for their careers as early as middle school through programs like the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H.
Those who do study agriculture in higher-education complete majors including:
Whether or not you're considering pursuing an agricultural degree, you might be interested in some information on workers who enter the field.
Key career statistics about the agriculture workforce:
Common titles in the agricultural field:
With the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, metal and steelwork became a considerable part of the world's mechanical ecosystem. The technological advances shifted much of the focus from agriculture to industrial.
While agriculture will likely always be necessary, steel and metalwork has continued to evolve with modern technology and is a thriving industry today.
Steel and metal work jobs exist all over the country; however, five states have the highest employment of structural iron and steel workers.
The top five states, their employment numbers, mean hourly wage and annual mean wage as of 2021 are:
The five parts of the industry with the highest employment rates are:
Generally, the steel and metal industry has positions requiring a high school diploma, an equivalent degree and a subsequent apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships allow prospective steel and metal workers to learn necessary skills and knowledge through hands-on experience and training. Many technical schools or contractor associations provide apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships in the steel and metal field can equip students with skills like:
If you are considering an apprenticeship in this industry, be prepared to dedicate your time and attention. Apprentices complete around 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of real-world job experience.
Related: 3 Stellar Steel Stocks to Buy Now
The mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industries fall under the natural resources and mining supersector.
A miner's job includes actions like:
During these job performances, miners seek to extract naturally occurring mineral solids like coal, ore and liquid minerals like crude petroleum.
There are approximately 593,300 workers in this industry and 5.7% of workers are members of a union.
Five occupations and their mean salaries in this industry include:
For all other hourly employees, the average hourly earnings are approximately $33.85 per hour.
To begin work in the mining industry, you must undergo training to prepare. The National Mine Health and Safety Academy is located in Beaver, West Virginia and holds in-person courses for prospective mining professionals.
The institution also provides materials and resources for trainees who prefer to complete their training at their local training program.
The job requirements are different if you are interested in the mining sector and are drawn toward geological engineering.
Although geological engineers often work alongside miners, their roles are different. Geological engineers identify risk factors and terrain at worksites to ensure health and human safety.
Geological engineers need, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in a major like:
In addition to higher education, you will likely need to complete an internship or fellowship to gain real-world experience in the geological field of your choice.
There are also types of geological engineers that need to complete additional licensing to be qualified for positions.
Chemical manufacturing is a subsector of the manufacturing sector. This subsector takes organic and inorganic raw materials and transforms them into products through a chemical process.
Groups in the chemical manufacturing industry include:
Occupations in the chemical manufacturing industry and their salaries include:
While some of the occupations on this list require higher-education degrees, others do not. For example, becoming a chemical technician requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
In addition, a chemical technician must have prior experience in the sector, a HazMat certification, likely a forklift certification and general skills.
On the other hand, a chemical engineer requires a bachelor's degree, Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) certification, a master's degree, a Professional Engineering (PE) certification and a state license.
The top skills required by chemical engineers include:
The states with the highest employment level and their corresponding annual hourly wage and annual mean wage are:
Annual hourly wage: $79.07
Annual mean wage: $164,470
Annual hourly wage: $49.26
Annual mean wage: $102,450
Annual hourly wage: $46.60
Annual mean wage: $96,920
Annual hourly wage: $52.72
Annual mean wage: $109,650
Annual hourly wage: $59.28
Annual mean wage: $123,300
Textile mills are a subsector of the manufacturing sector. Textile mills take a natural or synthetic basic fiber and transform it into a product that is manufactured further into items used for industrial or individual use.
Textile mills transform materials into items like:
Textile mills consist of three different types of mills, which are:
Common occupation titles in textile mills and their mean salaries include:
Utilities are a subsector of the trade, transportation and utilities supersector. The utility sector has several different establishments and services that go with those establishments.
Industry groups in the utilities subsector include:
Utility establishments and their services include:
Common occupation titles in utilities and their mean salaries include:
Electrical engineering may stand out to you as a potential occupation in the basic industries. To become an electrical engineer, you will need a bachelor's degree and participation in an internship or other practical experience.
Paper manufacturing is a subsector of the manufacturing sector. The paper manufacturing subsector is also made up of converted paper products, paper and pulp.
Pulp is a raw material generally made from cellulosic (vegetable) fibers or other materials like minerals, artificial fibers, rags, straws, grasses and bark. Paper, pulp and converted paper products are grouped because they are part of a vertically connected process.
This process includes three parts:
Occupations integral to the paper manufacturing industry and their mean salaries include:
Industrial truck and tractor operators make up approximately 758,290 jobs in the U.S. workforce. This occupation is vital to the industry.
To become an industrial truck and tractor operator, you must fit job requirements like having a high school diploma or GED, a relevant driver's license and a completed apprenticeship or other practical experience.
Like any other industry, every job title has pros and cons. See below for more information about the ups and downs of working in basic industries.
It's no secret that industrial practices have damaged the environment and contributed to climate change. The Industrial Revolution was one of the most significant inciting incidents to the manufacturing industry boom.
At the time, people had no idea the long-term effects fossil fuels from large manufacturing plants would someday have on the planet. While so many improvements have been made, industrialization's carbon footprint from basic industries still occurs today. Keep reading for specific environmental impacts from basic industries.
Water pollution occurs when natural or manufactured chemicals contaminate a water source.
While some water pollution can be identified as murky, odorous or containing trash, the even more dangerous situation is when contaminated water looks completely safe. Natural gas and oil leaks, generally from human activity, cause water pollution.
Air pollution occurs when natural or manufactured hazardous substances contaminate the air. Sometimes, air pollution can be seen, like smog; however, other times, the air might look normal.
According to the World Health Organization, 99%of the world's population breathes in air contamination, such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide or sulfur dioxide. Too much inhalation of any of these chemicals can cause serious health issues.
Soil pollution comes from contaminated soil and can harm people or animals who touch, breathe or ingest its toxic properties. It might not seem like soil contamination would affect a large amount of society; however, contaminated soil can be a massive detriment to the entire ecosystem.
Contaminated soil can generate pests and diseases. The animals who eat those pests or the soil are then eaten by larger animals up the food chain.
This is not only harmful to the animals affected but to the humans who consume those animals that now contain bacteria. Contaminated soil can affect the health and food security of the entire planet.
Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, are emitted from landfills and agricultural industries, which ultimately causes global warming.
Climate change is caused by global warming, as temperatures shift and weather patterns change. These changes affect the entire planet's ecosystem.
Six significant industries contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Three of those six are basic industries, including utilities, agriculture and other basic industries. Look below to see where the manufacturing industry ranks compared to the other greenhouse gas emitters.
As the world learns more about climate change and prevention, basic industries can adopt strategies to do their part in cleaning up manufacturing practices.
Hazardous waste is a huge contributor to pollution and must be treated and discarded properly to protect the ecosystem. Basic industries can practice strict and clean waste management strategies, including treatment, transportation and disposal, to help reduce their carbon footprint.
How basic industries treat, transport and dispose of recyclable materials matters. Making sure recyclables are separated is the first step. Large manufacturing plants can also practice upcycling by reusing materials or finding alternative uses when possible.
Making the switch to clean and renewable energy is a massive step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to that, gas capture programs can reduce overall gas waste.
Before large plants build locations, they should consult ecological experts to ensure the site does not threaten or destroy nearby wildlife. Sites should also have emergency plans in place should a fire, oil spill or another accident occur.
Technological advances have produced much cleaner, safer and more efficient machinery. Basic industries can implement these new technologies to reduce their carbon footprints and improve energy efficiency.
One of the most significant switches to consider is utilizing renewable energy, like sun, wind or water.
For industries to grow in this area, they must stay current with environmental education.
Two ways to stay up-to-date include performing environmental impact assessments and studying ecological changes. Employee training and company policies are other ways to raise industry-wide awareness.
Each year, more and more companies in various industries pledge to reduce their carbon footprint. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Green Power Partnership Fortune 500® Partners List, highlighting companies that have adopted green power resources to conduct operations.
Below, you will find eight companies in primary industries that have made commitments and the green power resources they utilized the most.
Basic industries are widespread, have a low barrier to entry and many are essential occupations. If you are looking for a career that generally offers solid job security and plenty of opportunity for growth, basic industries can be a good career path.
One drawback to working in basic industries is the health and environmental risk that comes with the territory. Because many sectors of basic industries involve manual labor, there can be dangerous jobs you must complete or hazardous materials you must work with.
When choosing the right industry for you, it is essential to weigh all the details and logistics of each occupation. However, if you conclude that working in basic industries has more pros than cons, then basic industries is a good career path for you.