As to whether someone should think about a career in plastics; it is not an opportune time in the US right now.
The days of the huge 100+ press custom molder are over. The future belongs to niche-market and highly technical specialty molders.
All the big-name Custom Molding shops in the region are struggling to keep presses running. Shops like *ordon and *ebster Plastics are revolving doors for temp workers... Even the technical staff are hired on a rotating basis. They don't have enough work to keep everything going so they hire people when an order comes in then they let everyone go.
ON THE OTHER HAND:
We have a shop here in our region that specializes in thermoplastic "inserts" that get fed to their stable of LSI molding machines. They are struggling to find good trainable workers.
Another shop does plastic optical parts. In fact I know TWO plastic-optic companies in the region... both trying to find people who know plastic, and people who know optics.
There is a small company that molds gears up to 5" in diameter and nothing but gears. Again, can't get enough usable people in the door.
I specialize in electrical safety products and insulators for high-voltage applications. I have two captive lines, four specialty lines I manufacture for customers, and a few custom jobs here and there. I also specialize in rebuilding machinery.
Someone will be along to argue the point with me shortly I'm sure... but consider this: It's slow now. NOW is the time to hire someone and begin training them.... while you have time to breath. You don't want to be teaching someone your process while trying to get a double-urgent rush order out the door and have them crash a press on you.