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Hydraulic and Pneumatic Technician Job Description, Career as a Hydraulic and Pneumatic Technician, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High school plus two years of training

Salary: $20,000 to $50,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Hydraulic and pneumatic technicians are sometimes called fluid power technicians, because they maintain and repair equipment and machines that use pressurized fluids to carry power from one place to another. Hydraulic and pneumatic systems are two types of fluid power systems. Hydraulic systems use "wet" fluids, such as oil and water. Pneumatic systems use "dry" fluids, such as pressurized air or other gases.

About three-fourths of the factories in this country use hydraulic or pneumatic power systems. These fluid power systems run over half the machines and equipment used in industry. They are also important in transportation vehicles, for example, in automatic transmissions, power brakes, and power steering. In addition, fluid power is used for tasks as varied as opening supermarket doors and raising and lowering the flaps on airplane wings.

Hydraulic and pneumatic technicians work in factories, laboratories, and offices all across the country. Most are employed by private industry. A few work in independent research centers. Those working in private industry are often on the maintenance or research and development staffs of companies that use fluid power in manufacturing. Technicians might help engineers to design, test, and install a fluid power system for a one-of-a-kind machine that is used to bolt fenders on automobiles. Others in private industry may work on fluid power equipment used in such products as trucks, airplanes, and automatic doors.

Hydraulic and pneumatic technicians also work as service representatives for companies that make hydraulic or pneumatic equipment. These technicians often travel from plant to plant. They might, for example, service machines that use air pressure to drive nails and turn screws. Sometimes these technicians help to sell their company's equipment. Other technicians work in shops. They might repair hydraulic cylinders used in farm equipment or bulldozers.

Most hydraulic and pneumatic technicians use hand tools, electronic calculators, and measuring devices. They sometimes carry or lift bulky equipment. They often read and interpret instruments, computer data, technical manuals, and blueprints. Hydraulic and pneumatic technicians may also do some technical writing or drafting. In some cases they specialize in one field.

Education and Training Requirements

Many hydraulic and pneumatic technicians learn their skills through on-thejob training. However, many companies prefer to hire beginners who have some postsecondary formal training in industrial technology, mechanics, or a related field in which fluid power is part of the curriculum. Relatively few schools offer programs specifically in fluid power. Such training programs usually take about two years to complete. The armed services also train some enlisted personnel in fluid power. This training usually deals with the use of fluid power in aircraft or armored vehicles. Certification is available through the Fluid Power Society (FPS).

Getting the Job

Many hydraulic and pneumatic technicians get their first jobs through the placement offices at their schools. Your state employment service may be able to help you find a position as a fluid power technician. You can also apply directly to companies that use fluid power in manufacturing or materials handling or that make or distribute fluid power equipment. Sometimes jobs for technicians are listed in the classified section of the newspaper or in job banks on the Internet.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced hydraulic and pneumatic technicians can become supervisors of maintenance crews in plants that use hydraulic or pneumatic equipment. Technicians can also advance to careers in sales, management, technical writing, or teaching. With the continued reliance on fluid power systems in American industry, the employment outlook for skilled technicians in this field is expected to remain favorable.

Working Conditions

Working conditions for hydraulic and pneumatic technicians vary with their employers and their jobs. Many technicians install, test, or repair equipment in factories. Although their basic workweek is thirty-five to forty hours long, these technicians may be required to work some night or weekend shifts and some overtime. At times they may have to do heavy lifting. There is some danger of electric shocks, burns, and cuts. Factory technicians usually work alone or in pairs. Those that work in laboratories or shops are often parts of teams that include technicians, skilled workers, and engineers. They usually work regular hours. Sometimes they must travel to inspect equipment in the field. In many cases technicians must deal with a wide variety of customers, as well as with their coworkers. Some technicians belong to unions.

Hydraulic and pneumatic technicians should have mechanical ability. They should enjoy learning how machines and other equipment work. Technicians must also be good at mathematics and science. In addition, they often need to communicate their ideas to others in oral or written form or through drawings and graphs. They must study to keep up with changes in the industry.

Where to Go for More Information

Fluid Power Educational Foundation
3333 N. Mayfair Rd., Ste. 211
Milwaukee, WI 53222
(414) 778-3364

Fluid Power Society
1930 E. Marlton Pike A-2
P.O. Box 1420
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
(800) 303-8520

National Fluid Power Association
3333 N. Mayfair Rd., Ste. 211
Milwaukee, WI 53222-3219
(414) 778-3344

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings depend on education, experience, location, and kind of job. In 2005 beginning hydraulic and pneumatic technicians usually earned from $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Experienced hydraulic and pneumatic technicians earned from $30,000 to $50,000 per year. Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans.

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