Maintenance Mechanic

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called industrial machinery repairers or maintenance mechanics are highly skilled workers who maintain and repair machinery in a plant or factory. To do this effectively, they must be able to detect minor problems and correct them before they become major problems. Increasingly, mechanics need electrical and computer skills in order to repair sophisticated equipment on their own. Once a repair is made, mechanics perform tests to ensure that the machine is running smoothly.

Although repairing machines is the primary responsibility of industrial machinery mechanics, they also may perform preventive maintenance and install new machinery. For example, they adjust and calibrate automated manufacturing equipment, such as industrial robots. As plants retool and invest in new equipment, they increasingly rely on mechanics to properly situate and install the machinery. In many plants, this has traditionally been the job of millwrights, but mechanics are increasingly called upon to carry out this task.

Job Outlook and Growth Potential:

Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers, except millwrights held about 289,200 jobs in 2002. Of these, 197,300 were held by the more highly skilled industrial machinery mechanics, while machinery maintenance workers accounted for 91,900 jobs. Two out of three workers were employed in the manufacturing sector, in industries such as food processing, textile mills, chemicals, fabricated metal products, motor vehicles, and primary metals. Others worked for government agencies, public utilities, mining companies, and other establishments in which industrial machinery is used.

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.

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 19.53

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.