Industrial Machinery Mechanics
Approximately 381,500 industrial machinery mechanics are employed in the United States. These mechanics work in a wide variety of plants and are employed in every part of the country, although job opportunities are concentrated in industrialized areas. Many industrial machinery mechanics work in manufacturing industries such as chemicals, motor vehicles, food processing, textile mill products, primary metals, and fabricated metal products. Others work for public utilities, government agencies, and mining, oil, and gas extraction companies.
Jobs can be obtained by directly applying to companies that use industrial equipment or machinery. The majority of mechanics work for manufacturing plants. These plants are found in a wide variety of industries, including the automotive, plastics, textile, electronics, packaging, food, beverage, and aerospace industries. Chances for job openings may be better at a large plant. New workers are generally assigned to work as helpers or trainees.
Prospective mechanics may learn of job openings or apprenticeship programs through local unions. Many industrial machinery mechanics are members of a union. These unions include the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; the United Steelworkers of America; the United Auto Workers; the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Private and state employment offices are other good sources of job openings.
Those who begin as helpers or trainees usually become journeymen in four years. Although opportunities for advancement beyond this rank are somewhat limited, industrial machinery mechanics who learn more complicated machinery and equipment can advance into higher paying positions. The most highly skilled mechanics may be promoted to master mechanics. Those who demonstrate good leadership and interpersonal skills can become supervisors. Skilled mechanics also have the option of becoming machinists, numerical control tool programmers, precision metalworkers, packaging machinery technicians, and robotics technicians. Some of these positions do require additional training, but the skills of a mechanic readily transfer to these areas.
Tips for Entry
Volunteer or find a part-time job with a mechanic or craftsman to become familiar with tools and machinery.
Join a professional organization or student club to gain experience in the field, find out more about the industry, and attend local events.
Contact a local factory or machine shop and arrange for a tour and an information interview with a mechanic.