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Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery 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.
Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:
Machinery maintenance workers typically do the following:
Millwrights typically do the following:
Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this task, they must be able to detect and correct errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. These 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. Examples of machines they may work with are robotic welding arms, automobile assembly line conveyor belts, and hydraulic lifts.
After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Mechanics use their knowledge of electronics and computer programming to 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 working with hand tools, 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 clean and lubricate machinery, perform basic diagnostic tests, check the performance of the machine, and test damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.
Machinery 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 install, maintain, and disassemble 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 the entire machine, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. In taking apart a machine, each part of the machine must be carefully disassembled, 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 use forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment to bring the parts to the desired location.
Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights held about 464,400 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights were as follows:
|Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance||9|
Most worked in factories, refineries, food-processing facilities, or power plants, or at construction sites.
Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers have higher rates of injuries and illnesses than the national average. To avoid injuries, workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed shoes, gloves, and earplugs.
Most industrial machinery mechanics and machinery 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 are typically employed on a contract basis and frequently spend only a few days or weeks at a single site—as long as it takes them to assemble or disassemble an industrial machine. As a result, workers often have variable schedules and may experience downtime between jobs.
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Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery 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 machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few months to a year.
Most millwrights 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.
Employers of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights generally require them to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer to hire workers who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, and electronics. Some mechanics and millwrights complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance.
Industrial machinery mechanics may receive more than a year of on-the-job training, while machinery maintenance workers typically receive training that lasts a few months to a year. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers learn how to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. They may also be instructed in subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, proper hand tools use, welding, electronics, and computer programming. This training may be offered on the job by professional trainers hired by the employer or by representatives of equipment manufacturers.
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 relevant 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 and pneumatic devices, 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.
Employers, local unions, contractor associations, and the state labor department often sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:
Manual dexterity. When handling very small parts, workers must have a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.
Mechanical skills. Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights use technical manuals and sophisticated diagnostic equipment to figure out why machines are not working. Workers must be able to reassemble large, complex machines after finishing a repair.
Troubleshooting skills. Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights must observe, diagnose, and fix problems that a machine may be having.
The median annual wage for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights was $48,410 in May 2015. 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 $30,670, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,090.
Median annual wages for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights in May 2015 were as follows:
|Industrial machinery mechanics||49,690|
|Maintenance workers, machinery||43,260|
In May 2015, the median annual wages for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance||43,540|
Most industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call or assigned to work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common, particularly for mechanics.
Millwrights are sometimes employed on a contract basis and frequently spend only a few days or weeks at a single site—as long as it takes them to assemble or disassemble an industrial machine. As a result, workers often have variable schedules and may experience downtime between jobs.
Compared with workers in all occupations, industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2014.
Employment of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation.
Employment of industrial machinery mechanics is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased adoption of sophisticated manufacturing machinery will require more mechanics to keep machines in good working order.
Employment of machinery maintenance workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increased automation, including the use of many computer-controlled machines in factories and manufacturing plants, should raise the demand for machinery maintenance workers in order to keep the machines operating well.
Employment of millwrights is projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased use of machinery in manufacturing will require millwrights to install and disassemble this equipment, as well as perform some repair work on it.
Overall, applicants with a broad range of skills in machine repair are expected to have good job prospects as older workers retire or otherwise leave the occupation.
Those who complete apprenticeships and educational programs designed for industrial machinery repair should have the best job prospects.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2014||Projected Employment, 2024||Change, 2014-24|
|Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights||464,400||537,800||16||73,400|
|Industrial machinery mechanics||332,200||391,900||18||59,700|
|Maintenance workers, machinery||91,200||98,700||8||7,400|