April Senase, 35, is a trailblazer. She has worked numerous factory jobs for 13 years — often as the first, or only, woman on the production floor.
She makes nearly $40 an hour, with overtime, in her day job running high-tech machinery (CNC) at a factory that makes specialized industrial parts.
In March, she took a second job as the first female instructor in computer-aided machining at Symbol Job Training Inc.
In her new role, she hopes to inspire more women to follow her lead.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, about a third of all manufacturing workers today are women.
Manufacturing is rapidly being transformed from a labor-intensive field to a high-tech one. The change, and a nascent pick up in domestic manufacturing, has created thousands of factory jobs nationwide that, experts say, more women are starting to seek out.
Enrollment at Symbol, which specializes in teaching computer-aided machining, known as CNC, has since quadrupled to 140 students a year. The school recently moved to a larger facility.
Symbol currently has about a dozen female students, a level that Tom calls a “spike” from years past when the school had none.
“One of my instructors told me I was good in math and that I should consider going into CNC because the money’s good,” Senase said.
Currently, Senase is a CNC specialist with Kitagawa-NorthTech in Schaumburg, Ill., earning $25 an hour. With overtime, because of a shortage of CNC workers, she’s making up to $37.50 an hour.
And she teaches night classes at Symbol. Senase wants her students to come away ready to go on job interviews and present themselves as “fully-trained machinists, and not as a man or a woman.”