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Is Consumer Durables a Good Career Path?

Is Consumer Durables a Good Career Path

What are consumer durables?

Consumer durables are end products purchased by consumers. Durable means they are intended to be used and re-used repeatedly over long periods of time and therefore do not have to be purchased frequently. Examples of consumer durables are cars and other vehicles, electronics, tools, jewelry and appliances. This is in contrast to consumer non-durable goods, such as food and dish soap, and consumer services, such as health care and financial planning. Durable goods are usually more expensive than non-durable goods. Expenditures on durable goods are usually a sign of economic growth. Consumers usually stop purchasing durables right before a recession.

But is consumer durables a good career path? To answer that, we’ll need to consider a variety of data about job growth, wages, and companies…

How many jobs are available in consumer durables?

There is a wide variety of jobs available in consumer durables. The consumer durables industry is a $2 trillion industry that employs around 3 million people. 

At top consumer durables companies, there are opportunities in Product Design, Marketing, Operations, Engineering, Sales and more. 

What companies are in the consumer durables field?

There are two subcategories of durable goods: brown goods and white goods. Brown goods are consumer electronics such as televisions, computers, cameras and speakers. White goods are consumer appliances such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, air conditioners and blenders. The top consumer durables companies for brown and white goods are Apple, General Electric, Samsung, Hewlett Packard, Sony, LG Group, Panasonic, De’Longhi Appliances, Canon, Phillips, Bosch, Hitachi, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba. 

Apple is the largest technology company by revenue, totaling $365.8 billion in 2021. They employ 154,000 people. General Electric manufactures appliances such as washers and dryers. Also a producer of industrial equipment like aircraft engines and consumer services like electricity and health care, GE employs 168,000 people and amassed $74.19 billion in revenue in 2021.

Samsung, a South Korean company, is another electronics manufacturer. Samsung brought in 279.6 trillion South Korean won ($214.46 billion USD) in 2021. They employ 287,439 people. Hewlett Packard, a U.S.-based information technology company, has 60,400 employees and has an annual revenue of $27.78 billion. Sony Corporation is a Japan-based manufacturer of electronics that employs 109,700 people and has an annual revenue of $73.79 billion.

Panasonic is another Japan-based company that manufactures consumer electronics, employing 259,385 people and brings in $54.93 billion in annual revenue. De’Longhi Appliances is an Italian company that manufactures kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, fryers, and air conditioners. They employ 8,607 people and bring in $2.5 billion in revenue each year. 

Bosch is a German multinational electronics manufacturing company. Bosch employs 400,000 people and brings in $91.68 billion in revenue each year.

Canon is a Japanese electronics company that specializes in cameras, camcorders, scanners printers, and other image products. Their annual revenue is $28.8 billion and they employ 25,377 people. 

is consumer durables a good career path?

What do consumer durables jobs pay?

The breadth of jobs in consumer durables means the pay varies. 

At the top companies we listed, salaries are competitive. In 2021, the median pay for Apple employees was $68,254. Among the lowest paid Apple employees are 3D Artists making $32,000 per year. Among the highest paid would be the Director of Operations making $204,527 per year. A Project Manager at Apple makes an average of $80,000, including salary and bonus. Meanwhile, a Principal Engineer at Apple makes $285,000. (Source: indeed.com)

The average base salary for General Electric employees is $97,000 per year, with an average $9,000 bonus. There are a lot of opportunities for people pursuing an engineering career to earn a lot of money at GE. For example, a Senior Mechanical Engineer makes an average of $112,447, while a Senior Software Engineer earns an average of $109,846. The Engineering Department averages $154,614 total compensation. Comparably, the Design department averages $113,308 per year, the Marketing department averages $107,228 per year and the Operations department averages $74,675 per year. (Source: payscale.com)

Samsung pays its employees an average base salary of $98,476 per year. That is not even including the average bonus, which is $13,000. A Senior Software Engineer at Samsung earns an average of $136,686 per year. An Area Sales Manager can earn as little as $36,000 per year or as much as $89,000 per year, with the average being $87,879. (Source: payscale.com)

The average salary for Sony employees ranges from $25,000 per year for a Customer Specialist to $168,000 for a Sales Manager. On the production and manufacturing end, an Assembler makes about $9.10 per hour, an Injection Mold Operator makes $13.50 per hour, while a Production Supervisor makes $71,482 per year and a Production Manager makes $111,681. An assembler job is considered a low-skill job while a Production Manager position usually requires years of experience. (source: indeed.com)

At Panasonic, a Quality Control Supervisor makes around $38,812 per year, while the Associate Director makes $171,833 per year on average. As at Apple, there are many opportunities in Industrial Engineering at Panasonic. An Industrial Engineer earns $86,292 per year, while an Engineering Manager makes $119,912 per year. An Account Executive makes $110,000 per year. (source: indeed.com)

The average salary for Bosch employees is $127,751, while the median salary is high, at $119,306. The lowest-paid job at Bosch is Customer Service Representative, which pays an average of $45,295 per year. The highest-paid job at Bosch is Director of Sales, which nets $231,452 per year. The average salary for the Finance department at Bosch is $88,964, while the average salary for the Business and Development department is $156,228. (Source: comparably.com)

The average Canon U.S.A. annual salary ranges from $25,000 for a Public Relations Assistant to $123,000 for a Senior Manager. A Purchasing Manager at Canon makes $120,000 per year while a Contract Administrator makes only $36,000 per year. (Source: comparably.com)

is consumer durables a good career path?

What are the best paying jobs in consumer durables? 

Product Designers are responsible for, you guessed it, designing the product. They earn an average of $81,456 per year. Product Managers in consumer durables oversee all aspects of creating and launching a new product. The average product manager salary is $110,000 per year. (All figures in this section taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 estimates.)

Sales Representatives market and sell a company’s product to retailers or to the consumer and earn on average $72,115 per year. 

Some of the highest paid jobs in consumer durables lie on the business side of things. Marketing Managers earn $142,470 on average per year. Business Analysts earn an average of $82,000 per year. Account Managers earn $83,900 annually. 

There are many opportunities in Project Management and Industrial Engineering at companies like Apple. An IT project manager at Apple makes $124,820 per year, while an Engineering Project Manager makes $161,206 per year. An Engineering Manager, meanwhile, makes $195,470 per year at Apple. 

Is consumer durables a good career path for you?

A career in consumer durables can be quite lucrative for those with the requisite education and experience. It might be good for someone with engineering experience, for example. 

Careers in consumer durables provide unique challenges like keeping up with changing technology and trends. A career in consumer durables would be ideal for the tech-obsessed. 

The top consumer durables companies often provide desirable benefits and perks. Apple employees receive health care, a free gym, and stock-based compensation (Restricted Stock Units). One Production Supervisor at Sony, who left the job due to what he said was low pay, told Indeed, “Huge working pressure to confess daily basis. But canteen is very good.” So at the very least, you will have a good cafeteria. 

One drawback to working at a top consumer durables company could be the pressure and how hard the work is. One former Account Executive at Panasonic told Indeed, “Work [is] hard and pay is great, lots of travel. Competitive and fun team work with strong leadership and lots of communication. [It is] hard work and can be all consuming.” 

“All-consuming” implies the absence of a work-life balance. Furthermore, a lot of travel could be a pro or a con, depending on how the individual feels about it.

Employee satisfaction overall depends on the company. One employee said of Apple, “Pay does not keep rate with inflation.” On the positive side, one former Apple employee said, “Positive, inspiring, and always looking for ways to improve.”

If you are considering a career in consumer durables, you might start by researching different companies on Indeed or Glassdoor to see not only what the salary and benefits are, but what the culture is like and if it aligns with your values. One employee said of Canon, “[The] management style is unique. Japanese culture in an American environment . . . [The] hardest part of the job is growth prospects . . . .”

One former Design Engineer at GE, who made $60,000 per year, told Indeed, “The very good culture of making sure all staff are up to date exist[s] and I have appreciate[d] that more than anything else.”

The risk-averse should be aware that during times of economic downturn, consumers usually forgo purchasing consumer durables. For this reason, the job market may be less stable than that of the consumer non-durables industry.

On the other hand, consumer durables like refrigerators and computers will always be a part of life, so the demand for them will never cease. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Technology occupations will grow 13 percent before 2030. 

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Tonie Leatherberry was at Deloitte for nearly three decades where she was the principal architect of The Board Leadership Forum and the NextGen CEO Academy, each of which has had a meaningful impact, ultimately placing more than 70 Black leaders into executive-level and board roles. As Chair Emeritus of the Executive Leadership Council, she created the Chairman’s Council of Academic Achievement to address achievement gaps for students of color in America’s educational systems, and as President of the Deloitte Foundation, the mission was to drive initiatives to develop future leaders through education. She is a passionate leader who has devoted much of her professional life to creating opportunities for women and people of color. Tonie is Lead director for Direct Digital Holdings, and a Board Director at Zoetis Inc. and American Family Insurance.

Cindie Jamison was elected Chair of the Darden Restaurants Board (NYSE: DRI) in September 2023, having served as a Director since October 2014 as part of a complete Board replacement slate through Starboard Value’s proxy fight. Since 2013, she has also served on the Office Depot Board (NASDAQ: ODP) where she Chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Compensation Committee. In May 2015, she joined the Big Lots, Inc (NYSE: BIG) Board, and became Chair in May 2022. In May 2023 Cindie stepped down from the Tractor Supply Company Board (NASDAQ:TSCO), a position she has held since 2002, where she was Chairman of the Board, after serving as Lead Director, and Chair of the Audit, Compensation & Corporate Governance Committees. Cindie joined the Board of Save the Children in February 2024.

David Chun, Founder and CEO, Equilar, Inc., has led Equilar since its inception to become one of the most trusted names in the corporate governance community. David has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Players in Corporate Governance” by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Disruptor Award by 2020 Women on Boards and Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business. David speaks publicly on corporate governance and board diversity matters, including events hosted by The Conference Board, Deloitte, EY, HR Policy Association, KPMG, NACD, NASDAQ, NYSE, The Society for Corporate Governance and Stanford’s Directors’ College. Prior to founding Equilar, David was a Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, a global investment bank that has since merged with Credit Suisse. Before DLJ, David was a management consultant with Bain & Company and also Kenan Systems, a telecom software developer acquired by Lucent Technologies. David serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Club of California, PGA Reach, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). He is on Nasdaq’s Center for Board Excellence Advisory Board and Catalyst’s Women on Board Advisory Council. David is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Past Chair of the SF Bay Chapter, a founding member of the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) and a former board member of the Wharton Center for Entrepreneurship and the Asian Pacific Fund Community Foundation of San Francisco.

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Priscilla Sims Brown serves as President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, a full-service bank, lender and investment manager with a century-long commitment to advancing positive social change. Amalgamated Financial Corp., the holding company for the Bank, is the first publicly traded (NASDAQ: AMAL) financial institution to be a public benefit corporation. Priscilla guides Amalgamated Bank in championing social responsibility through values-based banking, customer-centric services, and mission focused lending, serving individuals and organizations, including climate groups, foundations, labor unions, advocacy groups, political campaigns, and other socially responsible businesses, who care that their deposits are put to work for good. Priscilla is also dedicated to addressing environmental and social justice issues at Amalgamated Bank. More than 60% of the Bank’s lending and select balance sheet investments are high-impact through affordable housing, nonprofits, and climate solutions. Named one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking in 2023 by American Banker, Priscilla has been featured in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, PBS, and CNBC Changemakers, among others.

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Myra Biblowit is the President Emeritus of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the nation’s highest-rated breast cancer research organization with a mission focused exclusively on funding the world’s most promising research. Myra took the helm as BCRF President in 2001 and, after 22 years, retired in April 2023. During Myra’s tenure, BCRF funding enabled breakthroughs in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship. Myra was widely recognized for leading one of the most impactful, financially efficient, and transparent nonprofits in the United States. Prior, Myra was Vice Dean for External Affairs at NYU Medical Center where she headed the Development, Alumni Relations and Public Relations departments. Previously she led the capital campaign as Senior Vice President of the American Museum of Natural History. Earlier, Myra served as Executive Vice President of the Central Park Conservancy. Myra is a member of the Board of Directors of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the Housewares Charity Foundation and the Historic House Trust of New York City. She is a member of the New York Women’s Forum, the Yellow for Pink National Council, Extraordinary Women on Boards and serves on the Advisory Board of Project Hope for Ovarian Cancer Research & Education.

Truett Tate is Chairman of a number of Boards, including Reference Point, TLC Lions, Thinkably and the recently retired Chairman of QBE, NA. Truett Tate is also Director of the DEVClever board. Truett has a long and esteemed global executive history including most recently as CEO of ANZ USA, Europe, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. Immediately prior, he was Group Executive (and Board member) at Lloyds Banking Group, responsible for Wholesale & International Banking (Including Global Wealth and International Retail) across the United Kingdom, the Americas and worldwide and prior spending 27 years at Citigroup where he held a variety of senior roles including corporate banking business across each of its regional geographies. Truett’s long board history includes Virgin Group, Ten Group, the BITC, BAB Inc along with many other charitable and academic organizations. A speaker, guest lecturer, philanthropist and professional coach/mentor, Truett has seemingly bottomless energy and passionate interest in a safer, more just, more humane and more sustainable world.

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

T: (212) 688-8671 ext. 226
E: Janice@ElligGroup.com