Is Industrial Machinery/Components A Good Career Path? Now You See!

Industrial machinery is an important field, keeping the industries performing at their highest capacity. Industrial machinery mechanics are responsible for maintaining and repairing factories’ machines, be it production machinery or packaging equipment. The field caused a fundamental change to human progress in the 18th century. Since it is highly technical, is industrial machinery/components a good career path? And how many jobs are available in industrial machinery components?

Let’s dig deep into them, questions that most aspiring students wonder to decide the career path ahead.

Why Is Industrial Machinery/Components A Good Career Path?

The good news for industrial machinery/components is that job opportunities are abundant. The industry has aged for hundreds of years; thus, multiple branches of the industry blossomed. As a machinery student, you can find a career path in the following major segments:

  • Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing
  • Metalworking machinery manufacturing
  • Ventilaton, heating, air-conditioning, and commercial refrigeration equipment manufacturing
  • Industrial machinery manufacturing
  • Commercial and service industry manufacturing
  • Engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment manufacturing

Secondly, great talents can find a decent annual salary. The job can help you earn an almost equal income compared the all US occupations’ earnings. Top earners can earn even an around six-figure annual one in “right” jobs, companies, and cities. 

Sounds good? Let’s explore in more detail, starting from where the industry stemmed from.

What Triggered The Demand For Industrial Machinery Mechanics?

Let’s go back to the 19th century. This job came into existence from The Machine Age, the era from the late 19th to mid 20th century. The Machine Age overlaps with the Second Industrial Revolution and witnessed significant changes across industries. 

During the Machine Age, gas turbines, internal combustion engines, and electric motors replaced steam engines. Goods production increased thanks to assembly lines. With gigantic production machinery to make bulk metal, there was progress in so many fields, almost simultaneously. 

Among all industries revolutionized by industrial machinery, what was the first industry to begin to use machines to manufacture goods? Interestingly enough, the textile industry was the first one to adopt machines to mass-produce. And from there, industrial machinery quickly spread into varying sectors, bringing about drastic changes, economically and politically. 

Is Industrial Machinery A Good Career Path For You?

The Machine Age triggered the demand for Industrial Machinery. Image: St. Louis Magazine

Till today, industrial machinery holds an essential role in the development of the United States. Due to its various usages, industrial machinery is in demand all the time across the states. So, how many jobs are available in industrial machinery components that you can consider for your primary career?

Stay with us from major choices within this industry. Then we will go through a list of the most promising paths. Hope you can have a clearer answer to the question ‘Is industrial machinery/components a good career path?‘.

How Many Jobs Are Available In Industrial Machinery Components?

Do not worry, you have more options than you need. These are our list of possible jobs in practical order (a combination of available jobs, income, and career progress opportunity..):

  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics
  • Maintenance Workers
  • Millwrights
  • Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics
  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Bus and Truck Mechanics
  • Metal and Plastic Machine Workers
  • Machinists and Tool and Die Makers
  • Material Moving Machine Operators

We may not cover all but will try to cover the key ones.

Is Industrial Machinery/Components A Good Career Path? Brief Look On Major Careers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Maintenance Workers and Millwrights

Quick Summary

2020 median earning$54,920 (higher than the average of all occupations – $41,950
Typical entry-level educationTertiary certification or equivalent
Required work experienceNone
Required on-the-job trainingModerate-term
Number of jobs in 2020457,200
Job prospect from 2020-203019% (much faster than the average of all occupations – 8%)
Employment change, projected from 2020-203024,900

Pretty high salary relatively, very fast employment growth and low entry barrier draw a decisive answer to ‘is industrial machinery/components a good career path’ Source: BLS

Primary Duties

There appear 3 main jobs under this industry. Below are typical duties that they fulfill in general:

  • Grasp details about industrial equipment and control by reading their technical manuals 
  • Disassemble industrial equipment when a problem occurs
  • Fix or, in a worse case, replace busted parts
  • Conduct tests with initial batches to detect any issue early before mass production
  • Conduct basic diagnostic tests to detect any minor technical problem early on
  • Verify if any major repairs are required for malfunctioning machines
  • Gauge equipment and machinery’s technical details to find out optimal specifications and modify them accordingly
  • Clean, lubricate and move industrial machines

Specifically, each job (among industrial machinery mechanics, maintenance technician jobs, and millwrights) represents specific duties.

Industrial Machinery Mechanics/Maintenance Machinists

Industrial machinery mechanics or maintenance machinists hold a primary role in keeping machines’ working order properly by checking, notice and fix technical faults prior to the actual product damage that happens during production. They work mainly with industrial machines, ranging from conveying systems, production machinery to packaging equipment. 

In fact, more and more machines are automatically run by computing systems. They collect understanding of the technical problem via multiple resources, from mechanical manuals, their previous understanding of the industrial facilities, and their actual observation to define the root problem. 

For example, a machine’s excessive vibration can be caused by worn belts or fragile motor bearings. They possibly employ computerized diagnostic tools and vibration diagnosis methods to spot the root cause. Automobile assembly line conveyor belts, robotic welding arms, and hydraulic lifts are typical machines that witness these common issues.

After detecting the right issue, the industrial machinery engineer can break the equipment into components to fix or change the malfunctioning ones. Then, they test if it is operating as expected.

Machinery Maintenance Engineers

Machinery maintenance engineers carry out fundamental maintenance and repairs on engines. They often clean and lubricate machines, carry out essential diagnostic tests to check the machine’s performance, and examine damaged parts to decide if main fixes are required.

Moreover, machinery maintenance engineers follow machine manuals and stick to planned maintenance schedules. Usually, they carry minor repairs while leaving major ones to industrial machinery fellows.

Maintenance technician jobs require various tools during their work to repair and conduct preventive maintenance procedures. For instance, engineers adopt a motor’s alignment by a screwdriver or socket wrenches and elevate a big printing press upward by a hoist. In addition to hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, and drill presses.

Millwrights

Millwrights install, dismantle, disassemble, and move industrial machines in factories, power plants, and construction sites. Industrial machines are generally huge. Thus, assembling a machine can last some days or weeks.

Sometimes millwrights’ duties overlap industrial mechanics’. They repair, replace deteriorated or defective machines’ parts. Further, they can disassemble the entire machine when a manufacturing factory makes ways for the new one. Millwrights need to diligently take apart, categorize, and pack every single component.

Since the machines they work with are ordinarily large, millwrights also adopt a plethora of hand tools, such as hammers, levels, welding, brazing, and cutting equipment. Additionally, they use micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers, and other precision-gauging ones to measure. During big tasks, millwrights usually employ cranes and trucks as well. When the management team decides the best position to settle a machine, they utilize forklifts, hoists, winches, and cranes to locate different components to the defined place.

Work Environment

Working with industrial machinery is often dangerous since they are huge and contain metal mainly. Mechanics should strictly follow safety guidelines and adopt protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed shoes, gloves, and earplugs.

Most industrial machinery and machinery maintenance engineers 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 since machines cannot distinguish day and night as we do. Production, however, often consumes a big chunk of missed revenue if it cannot happen for even several hours.

Salary

The median annual salary for 3 jobs was $54,920 (BLS, May 2020). Nevertheless, the range is pretty wide. The bottom 10% made less than $35,190, while the top 10% made more than $81,950. If you are an ambitious achiever, these numbers might present a positive response to the question ‘Is industrial machinery/components a good career path?’.

Median annual wages for these mechanics in May 2020 were as follows:

Millwrights$57,260
Industrial machinery mechanics$55,490
Machinery maintenance technician jobs$50,100

Millwright has the highest median wage. Source: BLS

In May 2020, the median annual wages for these engineers in the top industries were:

Manufacturing$55,290
Construction$54,350
Wholesale trade$53,580
Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance$49,960

Engineers in the manufacturing section earn the most. Source: BLS

Most engineers work full-time during steady business hours. Notwithstanding, they occasionally work on-demand, at night or weekend shifts. Overtime is not uncommon too, especially for mechanical engineers.

Job Outlook

The industry’s overall employment is projected to grow 13% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by sub-profession.

The industry’s overall employment is expected to grow much faster than all occupations’ average in the US. Source: BLS

In fact, the increasing adoption of automated manufacturing machines will create more demand for maintenance engineers, mechanics, and millwrights to keep machines work appropriately over the next decade. For example, the usage of automated conveyors to move products and materials in factories triggers a high demand for these machines’ engineers since the conveyor belts, motors, and rollers need regular care to function well.

Job prospect is probably prosperous, particularly for those with a wide range of skills in machine repair as older colleagues retire or leave the occupation otherwise.

This industry had about 521,300 jobs in 2019. Employment in sections that constitute the industry was distributed below:

Industrial machinery mechanics399,400
Maintenance technician jobs73,200
Millwrights48,700

Industrial machinery mechanics can find a job easily, compared to those in 2 other professions. Source: BLS

The largest employers of these engineers were as follows:

Manufacturing53%
Wholesale trade11%
Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance10%
Construction6%

Again, manufacturing wins in the job opportunity competition. Source: BLS

Again, you might find these figures a sweet answer to ‘Is industrial machinery/components a good career path?’.

Requirements

Education

Generally, engineers need a standard high school diploma. Another standard is a year or more of training after high school. Some engineers need to finish an associate degree of 2 years in industrial maintenance. This program can contain welding, mathematics, hydraulics, and pneumatics courses.

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Training

These engineers usually go through an apprenticeship of more than 1 year. Employers or equipment manufacturers’ representatives often hire professional trainers to conduct the apprentice program successfully. They explore how to implement standard tasks during the training, from settling, lubricating to turning machines on. Further, instructors may guide them on shop mathematics, blueprint reading, proper hand tool adoption, welding, electronics, and computer programming. 

Most future millwrights practice their trade via a 3- or 4-year on-the-job training, a more demanding program than industrial machinery or maintenance fellas. They must fulfill 144 hours of appropriate technical curricula at a minimum and up to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job apprentice every year during the program. Specifically, newbies practice configuring, cleaning, lubricating, fixing, and starting machines. During technical sessions, they learn welding, mathematics, blueprint reading, and machinery diagnosis. Many study computing as well since computerized systems are rising.

Upon finishing the apprenticeship, millwrights become completely capable and can work as junior engineers with little guidance, executing routine tasks.

Companies, unions, contractor associations, and state labor departments usually sponsor these programs. The fundamental qualifications to join an apprenticeship are:

  • At least 18 years-old
  • A tertiary qualification or equivalent
  • Physically capable
What Do You Do As An Industrial Machinery Mechanic?

On-the-job training is essential for industrial machinery mechanics. Image:  NAIT

Crucial Qualities

Manual dexterity: They must possess a steadfast hand and clever coordination with eyes when handling tiny parts—details matter.

Mechanical/technical skills: They lean on technical manuals and complex diagnostic tools to pinpoint why and where machines stop functioning. Engineers should be capable of configuring complicated machines after applying a repair.

Troubleshooting skills: They must observe, troubleshoot, and solve technical issues that an engine may be facing.

You might find some hints to ‘Is industrial machinery/components a good career path?‘. However, please postpone your opinion after some more fundamental job options in this industry.

Is Industrial Machinery/Components A Good Career Path? – Views On Diesel Mechanics And Service Technicians

Quick Summary

For a long time, diesel engines have been the standard for heavy vehicles like trucks, busses, bulldozers, cranes, pickups, and sometimes commercial boats. These big vehicles can transport a significant number of people, and therefore, they need high efficiency and durability from diesel mechanics to serve their businesses.

Diesel mechanics, or called diesel mechanics and service technicians, examine, fix, maintain and overhaul diesel engines (most are heavy) like buses and trucks.

2020 median earning$50,200 (higher than the average of all occupations – $41,950)
Typical entry-level educationTertiary certification or equivalent
Required work experienceNone
Required on-the-job trainingLong-term
Number of jobs in 2020275,400
Job prospect from 2020-20308% (as fast as the average of all occupations – 8%)
Employment change, projected from 2020-203021,400

High relative salary, stable job growth and low entry barrier. All is good to reply ‘Is industrial machinery/components a good career path’. Source: BLS

Primary Duties

Diesel mechanics and service technicians primarily:

  • Communicate with customers,  read work orders, and define work scope
  • Framework processes via mechanical drawings and manuals
  • Examine brake systems, steering mechanisms, transmissions, and other engines’ technical parts. The job becomes more and more complex as mechanical components install more electronic systems to control internal operation. For instance, fuel injection and engine-timing parts rely on microprocessors to optimize fuel consumption and toxic emissions. 
  • Follow checklists to examine all critical parts
  • Discern and analyze diagnostic test results to detect technical issues
  • Fix or replace malfunctioning components 
  • Adapt vehicles’ electrical and exhaust systems to align with pollution regulations.
  • Deliver primary care and maintenance, including changing oil, double-checking fluid levels, and rotating tires, for diesel vehicles.
  • Test-drive machines to ensure that they run smoothly.

In most cases, diesel engineers often master both mechanics hand tools (pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, and ratchets) and computerized systems to detect problems and adjust mechanical functions. They typically acquire these hand tools by themselves. Power and machine tools, like wrenches, lathes, grinding machines, and welding equipment, are also inside their frequently used tool list. Employers often supply this expensive equipment and computerized ones.

Work Environment

In fact, diesel engineers usually repair and maintain diesel vehicles in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They sometimes work on roadsides and at worksites.

Potential Injuries And Illnesses

There exist downsides to the job. Diesel service mechanics hand usually lifts heavy machines and tools, handle oily or dirty equipment, and operate in unfavorable conditions. Therefore, they often face sprains and cuts. Diesel engineers should strictly follow safety working guidelines when working.

Work Schedules

Typically, diesel engineers work full time. Nevertheless, overtime is common, as many customers can bring their vehicles to fix during after regular working hours. Consequently, repair shops extend their service hours to match their customer schedules. To an extreme extent, some truck and bus repair shops offer 24/7 maintenance and repair schedules.

Salary

Diesel mechanics and technicians could earn $50,200 per year as data (May 2020). This median number is the salary at which 50% the engineers made more than that number and 50% made less. The bottom 10% earned less than $32,820, and the top 10% earned more than $76,460.

In May 2020, the median yearly salaries for diesel engineers in the top sectors were shown below:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals$59,790
Wholesale trading$51,910
Automotive repair and maintenance$47,730
Truck transportation$46,390

Local organizations offer the highest salaries. Source: BLS

Besides, many engineers, especially those in truck fleet dealers and repair shops, can earn an extra commission.

Most diesel engineers work on a full-time basis. Actually, numerous repair shops work during evenings and weekends to adapt to their clients’ busy working schedules. Consequently, overtime is prevalent. At an extreme, some shops even offer 24-hour services.

Job Prospect

As the economy develops, shipping and transportation demand expands. We will use more and more diesel-powered vehicles in addition to trains and pipelines. Furthermore, diesel cars and light trucks are becoming more popular, and therefore, our society will need more diesel mechanics to maintain and fix these diesel engines.

Diesel mechanic jobs‘s growth rate is projected to increase by 8% from 2020-2030, about the same pace as that of all occupations.

28,100 jobs are triggered each year on average over the decade. Many new vacancies are created to replace old employees who change their jobs or retire.

Diesel mechanics and technicians contained around 275,400 jobs in 2020. This is the list of largest employers:

Truck transportation20%
Wholesale trading14%
Automotive repair and maintenance9%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals9%
Self-employed workers7%

Truck transportation needs these engineers the most. Source: BLS

This overview possibly shows a less fruitful response to the critical question ‘Is industrial machinery/components a good career path?’.

Requirements

Education And Standardized Certifications

Most recruiters demand a compulsory high-school diploma, at least even though most diesel mechanic jobs demand on-the-job training sessions. High school or postsecondary training in diesel engine repair, electronics, or math establishes a solid foundation to climb diesel-engine-related career paths. This collection can be a great start for your adventurous journey in the field.

Postsecondary courses in diesel engine repair are a big plus to many employers. Many community colleges and trade institutions offer certified programs in the domain. These programs combine classroom instruction with mechanics hand tutoring besides diesel technology fundamentals, techniques, equipment practice, and practical assignments. Students also study how to navigate through tricky technical manuals and diagnostic reports.

National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) provides the standard certification for engineers of the field. Mainly not required, this credential shows golden proof for an engineer’s dexterity and experience, often resulting in higher earning.

The certification can specify more detailed areas, such as drivetrains, e-systems, maintenance, and inspection. To get this, engineers must have at least 2 years of work experience and pass one or more ASE exams. Further, diesel mechanics must redo the exam every 5 years.

Last but not least, many diesel engineers need a commercial driver’s license to conduct test-drive for buses and large trucks.

On-the-job Training

Diesel mechanics who start working without any postsecondary education usually join extensive on-the-job training programs. Senior staff assigns simple tasks, such as cleaning machine parts, checking fuel and oil levels, and driving trucks in and out, to trainees to get initial working experience.

After initial basic tasks, trainees move on to more complex ones, such as vehicle diagnostics. This stage can last from 3 to 4 years. A trainee is usually considered a competent diesel engineer after that.

Over their careers, diesel mechanics must update new techniques and equipment frequently. Employers often actively push the technical updates by sending engineers to special sessions conducted by manufacturers and vendors to upgrade the latest technologies from time to time.

Crucial Qualities
  • Mechanical skills: These skills are central to their jobs. Diesel mechanic jobs require familiarity to engine parts and systems and an understanding of how they coordinate back and forth. Diesel mechanics should be comfortable dismantling major components to investigate and repair, then connect them again precisely.
  • Troubleshooting skills – another essential set of skills: Every technical repair starts from detecting the ‘true problem’. Diesel mechanics use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components to identify and fix mechanical and electronic systems problems. Thus, they should be familiar with appropriate systems and tools to monitor mechanical components and discover the correct problem area. Then, they can zoom in from there to completely fix it.
  • Dexterity: Such mechanical tasks as disassembling engine components, joining parts, and using hand tools require clever coordination of a steady mechanics hand and good eyes.
  • Customer-centric: Customer is the king. The motto is still valid in this industry. Engineers should keep customers’ needs in mind when listening to their problems and answering their queries.
  • Attention to detail: Some technical problems originate from tiny mechanical malfunctions or part misalignment. Thus, diesel mechanics should keep their eyes on small pieces to troubleshoot easy-to-miss causes.
  • Organizational skills: These are not typical requirements but it is essential to keep the workplace clean, organized and safe for parts.Physical strength: Diesel engineers sometimes lift big parts and tools, such as exhaust system components and pneumatic wrenches. They need good physical strength to handle the task.

That is quite a lot of information for those who want an overall answer to the question ‘is industrial machinery/components a good career path?‘. For those who care not only about how many jobs are available in industrial machinery components? but also which one you can earn the most, here is the list. There will be some industries or niches that help gain much more than the average.

What Are The Best Paying Jobs In Industrial Machinery/Components Sector? 

The best-paying jobs in industrial machinery/components include Diesel Mechanics, HVAC Mechanics, Heavy Equipment Mechanics, aircraft mechanics, or even general Industrial Machinery mechanics. Let’s explore the fun part: the salary!

Diesel Mechanic 

In reality, diesel mechanic specifically maintains engines that run on diesel fuel, such as buses, 18-wheelers, or construction vehicles. Diesel mechanic can earn an annual salary of $48,500 as of May 2019 in the same report.

However, the diesel mechanic working in the natural gas distribution industry can earn on average $87,730 annually. Meanwhile, diesel mechanic serving couriers and express delivery services receives $65,030 per year on average. 

What Are The Best Paying Jobs In Industrial Machinery/Components Sector?

Diesel mechanics deal with big engines run on diesel, such as an 18-wheeler. Image:  Pinterest

Hvac Mechanics

On another note, HVAC mechanics take care of machines related to heating, refrigeration, or air conditioning. The same BLS report says general HVAC mechanics can earn from $48,730 annually in 2019. However, some get a more handsome paycheck. HVAC mechanics working for civil engineering companies earn $85,940 per year, while those in aerospace can make $77,180 every year. 

For those who want to run a small HVAC business such as an independent contractor, consider financial and legal matters carefully before you go.

Hvac Mechanics

HVAC mechanics are experts on refrigerators and air conditioners. Image: PSI Vail

Heavy Equipment Mechanics And Aircraft Mechanics

What about Heavy Equipment Mechanics? The BLS report claims that Heavy Equipment Mechanics make $53,370 per year on average as above. Those heavy equipment mechanics that work for aerospace manufacturers get a much more attractive lump sum, $74,340 a year. Next in line are heavy equipment mechanics employed by power distribution companies. These workers receive $72,950 a year. 

Most interestingly, aircraft mechanics are the highest paid in the field. They are responsible for repairing aircraft. The pressure and the responsibilities they shoulder are much higher than those in other sections. Aircraft mechanics received an average yearly salary of $64,090 in 2019.

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However, the highest pay of $94,790 per year is for aircraft mechanics who work in spectator sports companies. That is the outlier on the high side. 

Heavy Equipment Mechanics And Aircraft Mechanics

Heavy Equipment Mechanics can get a good income. Image: viu

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

A general Industrial Machinery Mechanics can earn $53,590 per year on average for maintaining industrial processing equipment in factories or pipelines carrying oil and natural gas.

Moreover, your salary will vary depending on your employment field. If you are in electric power generation, your annual paycheck is worth $74,550. However, if you are working in the natural gas industry, you will earn $72,190 per year. Both are much higher than the average salary for industrial machinery mechanics, as reported by the BLS.

Industrial Machinery Mechanics - is industrial machinery/components a good career path

The Industrial Machinery industry has many prosperous fields to select. Image: tradeupmanitoba

Is Industrial Machinery/Components A Good Career Path? – Conclusion

Though Industrial Machinery/Components doesn’t sound like a fancy career that you can talk out loud at a party, the salary prospect and stability in this field are worth considering. Is industrial machinery/components a good career path? How many jobs are available in industrial machinery components? You can have multiple career choices in case you want to fresh yourself in another mechanical-heavy place. It takes specific training and skills to succeed in this career, but employers are patient and willing to help you accumulate the necessary experience and expertise.

All in all, if you are the one who enjoys tricky stuff, technical-savvy nature, a stable job, a decent income, and a career choice diversity, you’ve got your dream destination. 

Don’t forget to visit our Job Overview section for more job reviews.

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