Machine Maintenance


A wide range of employees is required to keep sophisticated industrial machinery running smoothly—from highly skilled industrial machinery mechanics to lower skilled machinery maintenance workers who perform routine tasks. Their work is vital to the success of industrial facilities, not only because an idle machine will delay production, but also because a machine that is not properly repaired and maintained may damage the final product or injure an operator.

The most basic tasks in this process are performed by machinery maintenance workers . These employees 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. In carrying out these tasks, maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. Maintenance workers may perform minor repairs, but major repairs are generally left to machinery mechanics.

Job Outlook and Growth Potential:

Employment of industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers, except millwrights is projected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2012. Nevertheless, applicants with broad skills in machine repair and maintenance should have favorable job prospects. Many mechanics are expected to retire in coming years, and employers have reported difficulty in recruiting young workers with the necessary skills to be industrial machinery mechanics. Most job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or who retire or leave the labor force for other reasons.

As more firms introduce automated production equipment, these workers will be needed to ensure that these machines are properly maintained and consistently in operation. However, many new machines are capable of self-diagnosis, increasing their reliability and somewhat reducing the need for repairers. Increasing imports and the relocation of production facilities abroad also are expected to dampen employment growth for these workers.

Unlike many other manufacturing occupations, industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers, except millwrights are not usually affected by seasonal changes in production. During slack periods, when some plant workers are laid off, mechanics often are retained to do major overhaul jobs and to keep expensive machinery in working order. Although these workers may face layoff or a reduced workweek when economic conditions are particularly severe, they usually are less affected than other workers because machines have to be maintained regardless of production level.

Wages and Earning Potential:

Median hourly earnings of industrial machinery mechanics were $18.26 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.62 and $22.95. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.91, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $27.48. Machinery maintenance workers earned less than the higher skilled machinery mechanics. Median hourly earnings of machinery maintenance workers were $15.63 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.11 and $19.81. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.57, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $24.19.

Earnings vary by industry and geographic region. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of industrial machinery mechanics in 2002 are shown below:

Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution $26.25
Motor vehicle parts manufacturing $22.02
Local government $19.14
Converted paper products manufacturing $18.04
Machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers $15.93

About 26 percent of industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers, except millwrights are union members. Labor unions that represent these workers include the United Steelworkers of America; the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; and the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers.



Copyright © 2014, Ohio's 2-Year Council of Deans and Directors of Engineering & Industrial Technologies

Career information from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition and member schools.