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Industrial Machinery Maintenance Worker Job Description, Career as an Industrial Machinery Maintenance Worker, Salary, Employment

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

Education and Training Varies—see profile

Salary Median—$15.79 per hour

Employment Outlook Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

A wide range of employees is required to keep sophisticated industrial machinery running smoothly. The tasks done by industrial machinery maintenance workers are those requiring the least skill; however, their work is vital to the success of industrial facilities. An idle machine will delay production, and a machine that is not properly maintained may cause costly breakdowns that can damage expensive machinery or the final product, or even injure an operator.

Industrial machinery maintenance workers 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. Industrial machinery maintenance workers use a variety of tools to perform minor repairs and preventive maintenance. They may use a screwdriver and wrench to adjust a motor, or a hoist to lift heavy machinery off the ground.

Education and Training Requirements

Employers prefer to hire those who have completed high school; applicants who have completed a relevant course of study in a vocational program are also desirable. Industrial machinery maintenance workers are usually trained on the job. They learn to set up, clean, lubricate, and start machinery. Machinery maintenance workers are typically trained by experienced workers, but they may also be trained by professional trainers or product representatives.

Mechanical aptitude and manual dexterity are important characteristics for maintenance workers. Good reading comprehension is also necessary to understand the technical manuals of a wide range of machines. And, in general, good physical conditioning and agility are necessary because industrial machinery

An industrial machinery maintenance worker performs basic diagnostic tests to determine whether major repairs are necessary. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

maintenance workers sometimes have to lift heavy objects or climb to reach equipment.

Getting the Job

School placement offices may know of plants that hire industrial machinery maintenance workers. Local union offices or state employment offices may list job openings. Check Internet job sites for openings or apply directly to industrial plants. Sometimes plants place help wanted ads in newspapers or list openings for industrial machinery maintenance workers on a sign outside the building.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With additional training and experience, industrial machinery maintenance workers may advance to positions that require more complex repairs to machinery or work as supervisors.

Employment of industrial machinery maintenance workers is projected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2014. Regardless, they enjoy job stability and are not usually affected by changes in production. Even though they may face layoffs 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. When production slowdowns occur, most plants keep their maintenance workers on to overhaul machinery.

Working Conditions

In production facilities, industrial machinery maintenance workers are subject to common shop injuries such as cuts, bruises, and strains. They may also work in awkward positions, including on top of ladders or in cramped conditions under large machinery, which exposes them to additional hazards. They often use protective equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, hearing protectors, and belts. Most industrial machinery maintenance workers work a standard forty-hour week, although they may be required to work various shifts.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
9000 Machinists Place
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687
(301) 967-4500

International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers—Communications Workers of America
1126 Sixteenth St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 513-6300

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
Solidarity House
8000 E. Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 926-5000

Earnings and Benefits

The median hourly earnings of industrial machinery maintenance workers was $15.79 in 2004. About 25 percent of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers are union members.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesManufacturing & Production