Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

Summary

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers repair manufacturing equipment.
Quick Facts: Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers
2010 Median Pay $44,160 per year
$21.23 per hour
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, 2010 357,000
Job Outlook, 2010-20 19% (About as fast as average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 66,400

What Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers Do

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment.

Work Environment

Workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protectors. Most mechanics work full time. However, they may be on call or assigned to work nights or weekends. Overtime is common.

How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Worker

Both industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers 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.

Pay

In May 2010, median annual wages for industrial machinery mechanics were $45,420, and median annual wages for machinery maintenance workers were $38,460.

Job Outlook

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers is expected to grow 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increased use of manufacturing machinery will require more mechanics and maintenance workers to keep the machines in good working order. Applicants with broad skills should have favorable job prospects.

Similar Occupations

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

O*NET

O*NET provides comprehensive information on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

Contacts for More Information

Learn more about industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers by contacting these additional resources.

What Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers Do

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

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment.  

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 to make sure that the machine is running smoothly
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery

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 damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust equipment and reset or calibrate sensors and controls

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair complex machines, such as an automobile assembly line’s conveyor belts, robotic welding arms, and hydraulic lifts.

The following are the two types of industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers:

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called industrial machinery repairers or maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this, they must be able to detect and correct errors before they become larger problems.

Machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to discover the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, a mechanic must decide whether it is due to worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Mechanics often need years of training and experience to diagnose all problems fully. They also use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems.

After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Increasingly, mechanics are expected to have the electrical, electronics, and computer programming skills to repair sophisticated equipment on their own. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to make sure that it is running smoothly. Industrial machinery mechanics might also do preventive maintenance.

In addition to handtools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, or drill presses. Many are also required to weld.

Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They are responsible for cleaning and lubricating machinery, performing basic diagnostic tests, checking performance, and testing damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.

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. They may use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.

Work Environment

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

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers held about 357,000 jobs in 2010. Most worked in factories, powerplants, or at construction sites.

Work Schedules

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

Injuries

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers suffer common injuries, such as cuts, bruises, and strains. They also may work in awkward positions, including on top of ladders or in cramped conditions under large machinery.

To avoid injuries, they must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-tipped shoes, and hearing protectors. Even so, industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers experience rates of injuries and illnesses that are much higher than the national average.

How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Worker

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Most workers have a high school diploma, but advances in technology require additional training.

Both industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers 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.

Education and Training

Employers of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers generally require them to have earned at least a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. However, employers increasingly prefer to hire workers with some training in industrial technology. Employers also prefer to hire workers who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, or electronics.

Industrial machinery mechanics usually need a year or more of formal education and training after high school to learn the necessary mechanical and technical skills. Although mechanics used to specialize in one area, such as hydraulics or electronics, many factories now require every mechanic to understand electricity, electronics, hydraulics, and computer programming.

Some mechanics complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance. Others may start as helpers or in other factory jobs and learn the skills of the trade informally or by taking courses offered through their employer.

Employers may offer onsite technical training or send workers to local technical schools while they also receive on-the-job training. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, electronics, and computer training. In addition to technical instruction, mechanics train on the specific machines that they will repair. They can get this training on the job, through dealers’ or manufacturers’ representatives, or in a classroom.

Machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few months to a year. They learn how to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. This training may be offered by experienced workers, professional trainers, or representatives of equipment manufacturers.

Important Qualities

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

Mechanical skills. Industrial machinery and maintenance workers must be able to reassemble large, complex machines back together after finishing a repair.

Problem-solving skills. Workers must be able to inspect damaged parts of large machinery and figure out why the machinery is not working.

Technical skills. Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers use sophisticated diagnostic equipment to figure out why machines are not working.  

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

Pay

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

Median annual wages, May 2010

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

$45,420

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

$44,160

Maintenance Workers, Machinery

$38,460

Total, All Occupations

$33,840

 

The median annual wage of industrial machinery mechanics was $45,420 in May 2010. 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 $29,880, and the top 10 percent earned more than $68,130.

The median annual wage of machinery maintenance workers was $38,460 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,440, and the top 10 percent earned more than $59,640.

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

Job Outlook

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2010-20

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

22%

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

19%

Total, All Occupations

14%

Maintenance Workers, Machinery

6%

 

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers is expected to grow 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics is projected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Increased adoption of sophisticated manufacturing machinery will require more highly skilled mechanics to keep the machines in good working order.

Employment of machinery maintenance workers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Increased automation, including the use of many new computer-controlled machines in factories and manufacturing plants, should result in less demand for lower-skilled maintenance workers.

Job Prospects

Applicants with a broad range of skills in machine repair should have good job prospects overall. The need to replace the many older workers who are expected to retire, as well as those who leave the occupation for other reasons, should result in numerous job openings. Some employers have reported difficulty in recruiting young workers with the necessary skills.

Mechanics are not as affected by changes in production levels as are other manufacturing workers because mechanics often are kept during production downtime to complete overhauls to major equipment and to keep expensive machinery in working order.

Employment projections data for industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers, 2010-20
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2010 Projected Employment, 2020 Change, 2010-20 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers

357,000 423,400 19 66,400

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

49-9041 287,100 349,000 22 61,900 [XLS]

Maintenance Workers, Machinery

49-9043 69,900 74,400 6 4,500 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2010 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 (GPS).

Bachelor’s degree $87,180
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,250
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

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

High school diploma or equivalent $34,730
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 or mechanically-controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,910
Millwrights

Millwrights

Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,360
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases to and in businesses, homes, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $46,660
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers weld or join metal parts. They also fill holes, indentions, or seams of metal products, using hand-held welding equipment.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,450

Contacts for More Information

For information about industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers, visit

The International Maintenance Institute

Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals

The Association for Maintenance Professionals  

APICS, The Association for Operations Management

National Association of Manufacturers

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. You can also find information about registered apprenticeships, together with links to state apprenticeship programs, on the U.S. Department of Labor website: Employment and Training Administration. Apprenticeship information is available as well from the U.S. Department of Labor toll-free help line: (877) 872-5627.  

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/industrial-machinery-mechanics-and-maintenance-workers.htm (visited March 03, 2015).

Publish Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012