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Industrial Machinery Mechanic Job Description, Career as an Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Salary, Employment

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

Education and Training Varies—see profile

Salary Median—$18.78 per hour

Employment Outlook Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Industrial machinery mechanics are highly skilled workers who keep machinery and other industrial equipment in good working order. They help prevent breakdowns by checking, cleaning, and oiling machine parts regularly. They also fix machines when they break down. They work on cranes, pumps, engines, conveyor systems, and many other kinds of machinery. All kinds of industries need industrial machinery mechanics. Many repairers work for companies that manufacture food products, metal products, machinery, chemicals, paper, rubber, and transportation equipment.

The actual work done by industrial machinery mechanics depends on the kind of industry in which they are employed. For instance, in a clothing factory, they adjust the treadles on sewing machines and align bearings and gears. In a chemical plant, they work on pumps, filters, and other equipment. In a plant that processes iron ore, mechanics fix the heavy machinery that crushes the ore and the conveyor belts that carry it from one stage of production to the next.

In all industries, however, many of the duties of industrial machinery mechanics are similar. They use tools such as micrometers, calipers, and gauges to check and adjust the parts of a machine. They follow blueprints and engineering specifications and maintain careful records of their work. When a machine breaks down, mechanics first determine the cause of the breakdown, often by

Although many duties of industrial machinery mechanics are similar from industry to industry, the actual work they do depends on the particular industry in which they are employed. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

taking the machine apart using hand or power tools. Sometimes they use electronic testing equipment. If the machine is large, they may have to use hoists or cranes to get it apart. They consult catalogs to order new parts to replace the damaged parts. If a part is hard to get, or if a machine must be fixed quickly, a mechanic may make a drawing of the part so that the plant's machine shop can make a new part right away. Once a machine has been fixed, mechanics must test it to make sure that it is working properly. Several industries are increasingly relying on industrial machinery mechanics, rather than on millwrights, to properly install new machinery.

Education and Training Requirements

Industrial machinery mechanics usually attend union-sponsored four-year apprenticeship programs that combine classroom instruction with on-the-job-training. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, electronics, and computer training. Sometimes machinery maintenance workers learn the skills of the trade informally and attend courses offered by machinery manufacturers, community colleges, and vocational schools.

Apprenticeship programs prefer applicants who have completed high school. Courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computers, and electronics are useful. Mechanical aptitude, good reading comprehension skills, and the ability to work well with one's hands are necessary.

Getting the Job

School placement offices may have information about plants that hire industrial machinery mechanics. Local union offices or state employment offices may list job openings or apprenticeship training programs. Check Internet job sites for openings or apply directly to industrial plants. Sometimes plants place want ads in newspapers or list openings on a sign outside the building.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Industrial machinery mechanics can advance to jobs tending to more difficult machinery. In some cases, they are promoted to jobs as master mechanics or supervisors. Some mechanics become machinists, millwrights, or tool and die makers.

Employment for industrial machinery mechanics is expected to grow more slowly than average through 2014. As more companies use automated production equipment, less maintenance is expected to be required. However, job prospects for qualified candidates should be good. Many workers are expected to retire during this period. Industrial machinery mechanics also enjoy job stability; when production slowdowns occur, most plants keep their maintenance workers on to overhaul machinery.

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary from job to job. Some modern plants are well lit and clean. Older plants, especially in heavy industry, may be dirty, noisy, and drafty. Industrial machinery mechanics need to have mechanical ability. They should be in good health, because they sometimes have to lift heavy objects and often have to stoop, bend, and reach. In some jobs they have to work high up on ladders. Mechanics usually wear special goggles, metal-plated shoes, and helmets to cut down on injuries. Although they normally work forty hours per week, overtime is often necessary, especially when machines break down.

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

Median hourly earnings of industrial machinery mechanics were $18.78 in 2004. Mechanics who work with electric power generation, transmission, and distribution earn the highest median hourly wage, while those who work with commercial and industrial machinery (except automotive and electronic) earn the lowest median hourly wage. About 25 percent of industrial machinery mechanics are union members. Benefits include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans.

Additional topics

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