InDemand: Industrial Manufacturing Technician with The Hershey Company

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — A job that has you surrounded by chocolate? Sign me up!

Thanks to a unique apprenticeship program through The Hershey Company, one young lady is on a fast track to her Journeyman's card and a forever career in one of the sweetest jobs in the Valley.

"I actually have a few friends that work here and they talked about how much they liked their job, and I was like, I want a job like that," said Kristen Wilson, a production operator at The Hershey Company.

That's all it took for Kristen Wilson to get involved at Hershey. Today, she's working toward her 3,000 hours to complete her Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship.

"My favorite part is the hands-on," said Wilson. "I like to be busy. So making candy and moving up and down the line, that's perfect for me."

She gets to work with her team on several different lines, helping make some of America's most popular candy.

"We run, like, a well-oiled machine because we all have each others' backs," said Wilson. "And that's what you want in a workforce."

From Almond Joy's to Reese's cups, they're getting experience for a lifelong career.

"We give them a lot of training and give them the tools and resources they need to be successful in the manufacturing industry," said Christi Branch, a training coordinator for The Hershey Company.

The Hershey Company does all of their training inside the factory. The apprentice employees are watched on the floor and get hired based on their work ethic.

"We're looking for people who obviously want to work," said Branch. "You know, it's hands-on. It's not sitting behind a desk, so we're looking for people who are interested in the manufacturing industry."

According to statistics gathered by the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, salary for this position can range from $31,910 to $61,217. There is a projected growth of 89 jobs over the next decade in our region. Most of these positions require a GED or high school diploma.

"I plan on retiring from here," said Branch.

Candy, plus a solid team, makes for the perfect recipe.