Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Summary

industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers image
Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights all repair manufacturing equipment.
Quick Facts: Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights
2015 Median Pay $48,410 per year
$23.28 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2014 464,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 16% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 73,400

What Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights Do

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

Work Environment

Workers in this occupation must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protectors. Most work full time in factories, refineries, food-processing facilities, or power plants, or at construction sites. However, they may be on call and work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common.

How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Machinery Maintenance Worker, or Millwright

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. However, industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training either on the job or through a technical school, whereas machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts up to a year. Most millwrights go through a 4-year apprenticeship.

Pay

The median annual wage for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights was $48,410 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The need to keep increasingly sophisticated machinery functioning and efficient will drive demand for these workers. Job prospects for qualified applicants should be good.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights Do About this section

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers adjust and calibrate equipment.

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

Duties

Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:

  • Read technical manuals to understand equipment and controls
  • Disassemble machinery and equipment when there is a problem
  • Repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components
  • Perform tests and run initial batches to make sure that the machine is running smoothly
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications

Machinery maintenance workers typically do the following:

  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
  • Check the performance of machinery
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust equipment and reset or calibrate sensors and controls

Millwrights typically do the following:

  • Install or repair machinery and equipment
  • Adjust and align machine parts
  • Replace defective parts of machinery as needed
  • Take apart existing machinery to clear floor space for new machinery
  • Move machinery and equipment

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this task, they must be able to detect and correct errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. These mechanics often need years of training and experience to be able to diagnose all of the problems they find in their work. They may use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems. Examples of machines they may work with are robotic welding arms, automobile assembly line conveyor belts, and hydraulic lifts.

After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Mechanics use their knowledge of electronics and computer programming to repair sophisticated equipment. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is running smoothly. Industrial machinery mechanics also do preventive maintenance.

In addition to working with hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, or drill presses. Many also are required to weld.

Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They clean and lubricate machinery, perform basic diagnostic tests, check the performance of the machine, and test damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.

Machinery maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. They perform minor repairs, generally leaving major repairs to machinery mechanics.

All maintenance workers use a variety of tools to do repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, they may use a screwdriver or socket wrenches to adjust a motor’s alignment, or they might use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.

Millwrights install, maintain, and disassemble industrial machines. Putting together a machine can take a few days or several weeks.

Millwrights perform repairs that include replacing worn or defective parts of machines. Millwrights also may be involved in taking apart the entire machine, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. In taking apart a machine, each part of the machine must be carefully disassembled, categorized, and packaged.

Millwrights use a variety of hand tools, such as hammers and levels, as well as equipment for welding, brazing, and cutting. They also use measuring tools, such as micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers, and other precision-measuring devices. On large projects, they commonly use cranes and trucks. When millwrights and managers determine the best place for a machine, millwrights use forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment to bring the parts to the desired location.

Work Environment About this section

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically work at factories, plants, or construction sites.

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights held about 464,400 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights were as follows:

Manufacturing 54%
Wholesale trade 9
Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance 9

Most worked in factories, refineries, food-processing facilities, or power plants, or at construction sites.

Injuries and Illnesses

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers have higher rates of injuries and illnesses than the national average. To avoid injuries, workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed shoes, gloves, and earplugs.

Work Schedules

Most industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call and work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common, particularly for mechanics.

Millwrights are typically employed on a contract basis and frequently spend only a few days or weeks at a single site—as long as it takes them to assemble or disassemble an industrial machine. As a result, workers often have variable schedules and may experience downtime between jobs.

How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Machinery Maintenance Worker, or Millwright About this section

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Industrial machinery mechanics may receive more than a year of on-the-job training, while machinery maintenance workers typically receive training that lasts a few months to a year.

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. However, industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training after high school, whereas machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few months to a year.

Most millwrights go through an apprenticeship program that lasts about 4 years. Programs are usually a combination of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Others learn their trade through a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance.

Education

Employers of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights generally require them to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer to hire workers who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, and electronics. Some mechanics and millwrights complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance.

Training

Industrial machinery mechanics may receive more than a year of on-the-job training, while machinery maintenance workers typically receive training that lasts a few months to a year. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers learn how to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. They may also be instructed in subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, proper hand tools use, welding, electronics, and computer programming. This training may be offered on the job by professional trainers hired by the employer or by representatives of equipment manufacturers.

Most millwrights learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of relevant technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, apprentices learn to set up, clean, lubricate, repair, and start machinery. During technical instruction, they are taught welding, mathematics, how to read blueprints, how to use electronic and pneumatic devices, and how to use grease and fluid properly. Many also receive computer training. 

After completing an apprenticeship program, millwrights are considered fully qualified and can usually perform tasks with less guidance. 

Employers, local unions, contractor associations, and the state labor department often sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

Important Qualities

Manual dexterity. When handling very small parts, workers must have a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights use technical manuals and sophisticated diagnostic equipment to figure out why machines are not working. Workers must be able to reassemble large, complex machines after finishing a repair.

Troubleshooting skills. Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights must observe, diagnose, and fix problems that a machine may be having.

Pay About this section

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Median annual wages, May 2015

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights

$48,410

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$42,790

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights was $48,410 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,670, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,090.

Median annual wages for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights in May 2015 were as follows:

Millwrights $51,390
Industrial machinery mechanics 49,690
Maintenance workers, machinery 43,260

In May 2015, the median annual wages for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $48,830
Wholesale trade 46,110
Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance 43,540

Most industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call or assigned to work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common, particularly for mechanics.

Millwrights are sometimes employed on a contract basis and frequently spend only a few days or weeks at a single site—as long as it takes them to assemble or disassemble an industrial machine. As a result, workers often have variable schedules and may experience downtime between jobs.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2014.

Job Outlook About this section

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights

16%

Total, all occupations

7%

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

6%

 

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation.

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased adoption of sophisticated manufacturing machinery will require more mechanics to keep machines in good working order.

Employment of machinery maintenance workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increased automation, including the use of many computer-controlled machines in factories and manufacturing plants, should raise the demand for machinery maintenance workers in order to keep the machines operating well.

Employment of millwrights is projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased use of machinery in manufacturing will require millwrights to install and disassemble this equipment, as well as perform some repair work on it.

Job Prospects

Overall, applicants with a broad range of skills in machine repair are expected to have good job prospects as older workers retire or otherwise leave the occupation.

Those who complete apprenticeships and educational programs designed for industrial machinery repair should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights

464,400 537,800 16 73,400

Industrial machinery mechanics

49-9041 332,200 391,900 18 59,700 [XLSX]

Maintenance workers, machinery

49-9043 91,200 98,700 8 7,400 [XLSX]

Millwrights

49-9044 40,900 47,100 15 6,200 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs).

Bachelor's degree $95,230
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,880
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,630
Machinists and tool and die makers

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,110
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from, and within businesses, homes, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,620
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams of metal products.

High school diploma or equivalent $38,150

Contacts for More Information About this section

For information about industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers, visit

National Association of Manufacturers

Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals

For information about millwrights and the precision-machined products industry, training, and apprenticeships, visit

Precision Machined Products Association

For further information on apprenticeship programs, write to the Apprenticeship Council of your state’s labor department or to local firms that employ machinery mechanics and repairers. Apprenticeship information is also available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA program online or by phone at 877-872-5627.

O*NET

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

Maintenance Workers, Machinery

Millwrights

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/industrial-machinery-mechanics-and-maintenance-workers-and-millwrights.htm (visited September 28, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

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2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.