Industrial Machinery Mechanics
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Repair, install, adjust, or maintain industrial production and processing machinery or refinery and pipeline distribution systems. May also install, dismantle, or move machinery and heavy equipment according to plans.
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights 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
  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications
  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
  • Move machinery and equipment

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in working order by detecting and correcting errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Many of these machines are increasingly run by computers. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after detecting a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. 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. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is operating correctly.

In addition to working with hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, and 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 industrial machinery mechanics.

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. They 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, millwrights carefully disassemble, categorize, and package each part of the machine.

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.

Median salary: $55,490 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $44,270 and $67,370.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Industrial Machinery Mechanics
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of industrial machinery mechanics who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health (84%)
  • Hazardous Equipment (80%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (79%)
  • Time Pressure (75%)
  • Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites (68%)
  • Hazardous Conditions (65%)
  • Consequence of Error (53%)
  • High Places (42%)
  • Unpleasant or Angry People (39%)
  • High Conflict Frequency (34%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Industrial Machinery Mechanics? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Manual dexterity
Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights must have a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination when handling very small parts.
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.
Injury and Illness
About 59 industrial machinery mechanics become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 70% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
Chemical burns and corrosions
Heat (thermal) burns
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by industrial machinery mechanics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), industrial machinery mechanics typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as industrial and refractory machinery mechanics as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for industrial machinery mechanics

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights generally need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some mechanics and millwrights complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance. Industrial maintenance programs may include courses such as welding, mathematics, hydraulics, and pneumatics.

Education level of Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
Only 6% of industrial and refractory machinery mechanics have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
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Programs recommended by the Department of Education
The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click the program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.
Number of degrees awarded in 2018
Education level of awarded degrees
Gender of graduates
Race/origin of graduates
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
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Number of Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most industrial machinery mechanics? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as industrial machinery mechanics. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where industrial machinery mechanics earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for industrial and refractory machinery mechanics compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for industrial and refractory machinery mechanics.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which industrial and refractory machinery mechanics earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics (ACS for all specialties)
4% of Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 4% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 83% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of industrial and refractory machinery mechanics by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$51K$51K$60K$46K$51K$47K$39K$51K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics and gender
With 3% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 91% of careers.
Gender of Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
Men (97%)
Women (3%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%, and the difference for industrial and refractory machinery mechanics tops that, with the median salary for men 38% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics.
Race/origin of industrial and refractory machinery mechanics
White (81% )
Black (8% )
Other (5% )
Asian (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
$41K$43K$43K$47K$48K$52K$52K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KOtherHispanicBlackAmerican IndianMultiracialAsianWhite
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.