What Do Maintenance Mechanics Do?
Maintenance mechanics are responsible for ensuring machines and equipment continue operating in optimal condition. They program, maintain, and repair building and mechanical systems besides doing performance tests on new pieces of equipment.
The daily responsibilities of maintenance mechanics vary depending on the facility and type of system maintained, but they generally perform the following tasks:
- Troubleshoot machinery and perform routine preventative maintenance
- Use instruction manuals to follow standard operating procedures
- Ensure compliance with safety procedures and regulations
- Transport, assemble, and disassemble pieces of equipment
- Perform machining to fabricate and adjust replacement parts
- Examine, test, and maintain mechanical assets
- Ensure maintenance documentation is updated
- Train junior maintenance mechanics
- Install complex mechanical systems
Of course, employers tailor the responsibilities of maintenance mechanics to their unique needs and requirements. However, the activities mostly revolve around performing preventive maintenance tasks to minimize unnecessary downtimes.
Maintenance Mechanic Skills
Maintenance mechanics ensure the upkeep of an organization’s assets. The best workers possess a variety of skills, including:
- Ability to follow manufacturer specifications and guides
- Experience using precision measurement tools
- Demonstrated knowledge of general and complex mechanical systems, such as hydraulics and pneumatics
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Excellent organizational skills
- Strong communication and training skills
- Computer literacy
- Troubleshooting skills
- Experience using hand and power tools, such as grinders
- Ability to lift heavy loads and work long hours
- Essential welding and cutting skills
Additionally, employers often require maintenance mechanics to work off-site locations. In such cases, a valid driver’s license is an advantage.
What’s the Difference between a Maintenance Mechanic and Technician?
People often use the terms maintenance mechanic and maintenance technician interchangeably, and for good reason: the job descriptions often overlap. Both workers are primarily responsible for performing maintenance and repairs on different types of machinery. Additionally, both workers often possess strong technical abilities, excellent time management skills, and the ability to work well under pressure. However, there are some technical differences between the two roles.
Maintenance technicians often pursued advanced technical training and certifications. This extra knowledge allows them to work on complex equipment in the plant, building, and public works industries. Alternatively, maintenance mechanics perform a variety of maintenance activities based on general training.
For this reason, maintenance mechanics are usually restricted to working within smaller organizations that don’t require advanced maintenance technicians. However, many large organizations still employ maintenance mechanics for simple tasks, such as equipment battery changes, HVAC upkeep, and general tune-ups.
Industries That Hire Maintenance Mechanics
Industries that rely on heavy machinery for production rely on maintenance mechanics. These workers assemble and disassemble machinery besides performing other proactive and reactive maintenance activities. Additionally, maintenance mechanics perform initial tests and examinations on machinery before deploying them for use. Industries that hire these professionals include:
- Automotive: Vehicles must meet the highest safety standards before being allowed on the roads. Maintenance mechanics perform maintenance on vehicles to ensure they’re roadworthy. Furthermore, automakers also rely on maintenance mechanics to keep the machines involved in manufacturing vehicles in good working condition.
- Aerospace: Machines used in building airplanes constantly need evaluation and maintenance. This ensures that the final product meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manufacturing guidelines.
- Food and Beverages: Unsurprisingly, famous food and beverage companies such as Coca-Cola have highly automated production systems to ensure their products meet strict health and safety standards. They rely on several pieces of machinery and mechanical steps for production. Maintenance mechanics help to prevent these pieces of machinery from breaking down and get them back up when they do.
Other industries that employ maintenance mechanics include mining, scientific research, electricity generation, and natural gas transportation. Maintenance mechanics also work in manufacturing facilities that have heating and cooling systems.
Job Outlook for Maintenance Mechanics
On average, in 2020, maintenance mechanics made about $49,061 per year. According to Payscale, salaries vary substantially based on years of experience, level of education, and location. Cities such as Chicago, Charlotte, Los Angeles, and Dallas pay higher than the national average. Conversely, maintenance mechanics in Phoenix, Houston, and Atlanta earn lower than the national average.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for maintenance mechanics is projected to grow 13 percent by 2029. As industries automate their processes, they will need workers to keep machines, such as conveyor belts, in good working order. Those with broad skills in machine repairs will have better prospects of employment.
Certifications and Training
Maintenance mechanics need to have a high school diploma and entry-level experience for the job. Basic skills include physical dexterity, mechanical skills, troubleshooting skills, and computer skills.
However, those who work on electrical and plumbing systems may be required to have a license. Licensing requirements vary depending on the state. In most cases, employers prefer hiring mechanics who are appropriately trained and certified. Workers looking to advance their careers can seek additional training and certifications.
Vocational classes usually cover topics such as mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, electrical systems, maintenance machining, maintenance welding, lifting and rigging, and engineering drawing, among others. Some of the most common certification programs available for workers include:
- Certified Maintenance & Reliability Technician (CMRT): Offered by the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP), this certification is offered to maintenance personnel with demonstrated knowledge in preventative, predictive, and corrective maintenance. It can help workers show competence in multi-skilled asset maintenance and reliability.
- Professional Aviation Maintenance Certification (PAMC): This program is offered by the Aviation Institute of Maintenance. It equips maintenance personnel with skills in advanced aircraft functionality and maintenance. The certification is suitable for mechanics interested in working in the aviation industry.