Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights

Summary

industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers image
Industrial machinery mechanics, maintenance workers, and millwrights all repair manufacturing equipment.
Quick Facts: Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights
2012 Median Pay $45,840 per year
$22.04 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2012 447,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 17% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 77,400

What Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights Do

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

Work Environment

Workers in this occupation must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protectors. Most work full time. However, they may be on call and work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common.

How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanic or Maintenance Worker or Millwright

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. However, industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training after high school, whereas maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts up to a year. Most millwrights go through a 4-year apprenticeship.

Pay

The median annual wage for industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights was $45,840 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. The need to keep increasingly sophisticated machinery functioning and efficient will drive demand for these workers. Job prospects for qualified applicants should be very good.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights Do

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers adjust and calibrate equipment.

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

Duties

Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:

  • Read technical manuals to understand equipment and controls
  • Disassemble machinery and equipment when there is a problem
  • Repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components
  • Perform tests and run initial batches to make sure that the machine is running smoothly
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications

Machinery maintenance workers typically do the following:

  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
  • Check the performance of machinery
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust equipment and reset or calibrate sensors and controls

Millwrights typically do the following:

  • Install or repair machinery and equipment
  • Adjust and align machine parts
  • Replace defective parts of machinery as needed
  • Take apart existing machinery to clear floor space for new machinery
  • Move machinery and equipment

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair complex machines, such as an automobile assembly line’s conveyor belts, robotic welding arms, and hydraulic lifts.

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called industrial machinery repairers or maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this, they must be able to detect and correct errors before the machine, or the products it produces, are damaged. Machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to discover the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, a mechanic must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Mechanics often need years of training and experience to be able to diagnose all of the problems they find in their work. They may use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems.

After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Mechanics are expected to have electrical, electronics, and computer programming skills so they can repair sophisticated equipment. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is running smoothly. Industrial machinery mechanics also do preventive maintenance.

In addition to handtools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, or drill presses. Many also are required to weld.

Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They 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.

Maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. They perform minor repairs, generally leaving major repairs to machinery mechanics.

All maintenance workers use a variety of tools to do repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, they may use a screwdriver or socket wrenches to adjust a motor’s alignment, or they might use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.

Millwrights have a wide range of skills that aid in their work of installing, maintaining, and disassembling industrial machines. Putting together a machine can take a few days or several weeks.

Millwrights perform repairs that include replacing worn or defective parts of machines. Millwrights also may be involved in taking apart existing machines, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. To do this, each part of the machine must be carefully taken apart, categorized, and packaged.

Millwrights use a variety of hand tools, such as hammers and levels, as well as equipment for welding, brazing, and cutting. They also use measuring tools, such as micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers, and other precision-measuring devices. On large projects, they commonly use cranes and trucks. When millwrights and managers determine the best place for a machine, millwrights bring the parts to the desired location using forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment.

Work Environment

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Workers typically work at factories, plants, or construction sites.

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights held about 447,600 jobs in 2012. Most worked in factories, power plants, or at construction sites.

Injuries and Illnesses

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers suffer common injuries, such as cuts, bruises, and strains. They also work in awkward positions, including on top of ladders or in cramped conditions under large machinery. To avoid injuries, workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed shoes, and earplugs. Even so, industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers experience rates of injuries and illnesses that are much higher than the national average.

Work Schedules

Most industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call and work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common, particularly for mechanics.

Millwrights typically are employed on a contract basis and can spend only a few days or weeks at a single site. As a result, workers often have variable schedules and may experience downtime between jobs.

How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanic or Maintenance Worker or Millwright

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers
Most workers have a high school diploma, but advances in technology have led to greater training requirements than before.

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. However, industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training after high school, whereas maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few months to a year.

Millwrights mostly go through an apprenticeship program that lasts about 4 years. Programs are usually a combination of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Others learn their trade through a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance. A high school diploma or equivalent is the typical education needed to become a millwright.

Education

Employers of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights generally require them to have at least a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. However, employers increasingly prefer to hire workers with some education in industrial technology from a community or technical college. Employers also prefer to hire workers who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, or electronics.

Industrial machinery mechanics usually need a year or more of education and training after high school to learn the necessary mechanical and technical skills. Although mechanics used to specialize in one area, such as hydraulics or electronics, many factories now require every mechanic to understand electricity, electronics, hydraulics, and computer programming. These skills allow mechanics to troubleshoot a much larger range of machine problems.

Some mechanics complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance. Others may start as helpers or in other factory jobs and learn the skills of the trade on the job or take courses offered through their employer.

Employers may offer onsite technical training or send workers to local technical schools in addition to on-the-job training. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, the use of hand tools, welding, electronics, and computer training. In addition to technical instruction, mechanics train on the specific machines that they will repair. They can get this training on the job, through dealers’ or manufacturers’ representatives, or in a classroom.

A high school diploma is the typical education needed to become a millwright. However, there are 2-year associate’s degree programs in industrial maintenance that also provide good preparation for prospects. Employers may give workers classroom instruction in addition to on-the-job training.

Training

Most millwrights learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, apprentices learn to set up, clean, lubricate, repair, and start machinery. During technical instruction, they are taught welding, mathematics, how to read blueprints, how to use electronic devices, pneumatics (using air pressure), and how to use grease and fluid properly. Many also receive computer training. 

After completing an apprenticeship program, millwrights are considered fully qualified and can usually perform tasks with less guidance. 

Apprenticeship programs are often sponsored by employers, local unions, contractor associations, and the state labor department. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

Machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few months to a year. They learn how to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. This training may be offered on-the-job, by professional trainers hired by the employer, or by representatives of equipment manufacturers.

Important Qualities

Manual dexterity. When handling very small parts, workers must have a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Workers must be able to reassemble large, complex machines after finishing a repair.

Technical skills. Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights use technical manuals and sophisticated diagnostic equipment to figure out why machines are not working.  

Troubleshooting skills. Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights must observe and properly diagnose and fix problems that a machine may be having.

Pay

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights

Median annual wages, May 2012

Millwrights

$49,510

Industrial machinery mechanics

$46,920

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights

$45,840

Maintenance workers, machinery

$40,620

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights was $45,840 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,020, and the top 10 percent earned more than $69,990.

In May 2012, median annual wages for industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights were as follows:

  • $49,510 for millwrights
  • $46,920 for industrial machinery mechanics
  • $40,620 for machinery maintenance workers

Most industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call or assigned to work evenings, nights, or weekends. Overtime is common, particularly for mechanics.

Millwrights are sometimes employed on a contract basis and can spend only a few days or weeks at a single site, as that is what it takes to assemble or disassemble an industrial machine. As a result, workers often have variable schedules and may experience downtime between jobs.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012.

Job Outlook

Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Industrial machinery mechanics

19%

Millwrights

18%

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights

17%

Total, all occupations

11%

Maintenance workers, machinery

11%

 

Overall employment of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Increased adoption of sophisticated manufacturing machinery will require more highly-skilled mechanics to keep machines in good working order.

Employment of machinery maintenance workers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increased automation, including the use of many new computer-controlled machines in factories and manufacturing plants, should spur demand for maintenance workers in order to keep machines operating well.

Employment of millwrights is projected to grow 18 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. The use of machinery in manufacturing will require millwrights to install and disassemble this equipment, as well as perform some repair work.

Job Prospects

Overall, applicants with a broad range of skills in machine repair should have very good job prospects.

Faster-than-average employment growth and the need to replace many older workers who are expected to retire over the coming decade should result in numerous job openings.

Those that complete apprenticeships and educational programs designed for industrial machinery repair should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights

447,600 525,100 17 77,400

Industrial machinery mechanics

49-9041 319,300 379,600 19 60,300 [XLS]

Maintenance workers, machinery

49-9043 89,000 98,900 11 9,900 [XLS]

Millwrights

49-9044 39,400 46,700 18 7,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers and millwrights.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS).

Bachelor’s degree $89,630
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $49,840
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $35,210
Machinists and tool and die makers

Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically-controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,910
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to and in businesses, homes, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $49,140
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers weld or join metal parts. They also fill holes, indentions, or seams of metal products, using hand-held metal joining equipment.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,300

Contacts for More Information

For information about industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers, visit

APICS

Association for Maintenance Professionals

National Association of Manufacturers

Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals

For information about millwrights and the precision machined products industry, training, and apprenticeships, visit

Precision Machined Products Association

For further information on apprenticeship programs, write to the Apprenticeship Council of your state's labor department or to local firms that employ machinery mechanics and repairers. You can also find information about registered apprenticeships, together with links to state apprenticeship programs, on the U.S. Department of Labor website: Employment and Training Administration. Apprenticeship information is available as well from the U.S. Department of Labor toll-free help line: (877) 872-5627.

O*NET

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

Millwrights

Maintenance Workers, Machinery

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/industrial-machinery-mechanics-and-maintenance-workers-and-millwrights.htm (visited August 22, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014