Hello my fellow ship maker friends,
I have a question that I figured would not hurt to pose here on the forum. I am currently an active Army infantry officer who is transitioning out of the service within the next year and I have to face the facts that I need to figure out what I want to do when I grow up! I love models and always have and I figured I should look into jobs with one of the manufacturers. The problem is my first rudimentary google searches came up with nil regarding employment in a small, niche industry.
Working in model manufacturing is pretty difficult these days, since most model design is done by CAD and the tooling is overseas in China or East Europe as some folks have already said. Monogram-Revell is the only large company still based in the states (and their stuff is still made in China or Europe), although there are a few others with some presence here, notably Glencoe (if they're still in business). Mobious, Round 2, Minicraft, and some smaller companies. Periodically you'll see an add for a CAD designer or toolmaker in magazines like Fine Scale Modeler, but you'll need the appropriate experience. I used to know a couple of distributors based on my experience working in a LHS after I retired, and they always told me it was hard to make it on the manufacturing end. Unless you already have the skills, plan on going back to school to become a CAD designer or Toolmaker if you want to work in the industry.
When I retired from the Army in 2006, I took up model building for commission, but it has it's drawbacks-- the first is you will never get to work on your own projects, the second is you will always be looking for work. I was fortunate in that I had several commissions right away, which led to others, and a few turned into museum work, but again, they were very time consuming. I retired at a fairly high rank, so I really didn't need the money, thank goodness, because I would have gone for long periods without enough work to feed the family. I really took it up to keep busy. Eventually, during the downturn after 2008, I found employment as a vocational counselor, focusing mostly on industrial training, including CAD, Die-making, Machinist, and Tool-making trades. That's why I recommend going back to school using your GI benefits to get the necessary training to compete for those few jobs in the Hobby industry. But if it were me, I'd use your GI benefits to get a Pilot's license, train for multi-engine and become a commercial pilot. You'd make more money that way. Bottom line, it's tough to make it in the model manufacturing world anymore.