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How to Become a Manufacturing Mechanic: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a manufacturing mechanic. Research the job description and education requirements, and find out how to start a career in manufacturing maintenance. View article »

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  • 0:00 Be a Manufacturing Mechanic
  • 0:43 Career Requirements
  • 1:19 Steps to Work in this Career

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Video Transcript

Shall I Be a Manufacturing Mechanic?

Manufacturing mechanics install, fix, and maintain machinery used in manufacturing processes. These professionals, also called industrial machinery mechanics, work on sophisticated equipment, like robotics and hydraulic lifts. They take apart malfunctioning machinery and replace, fix, or clean the parts. Other duties include adjusting manufacturing equipment and testing machinery for accuracy. Manufacturing mechanics may be at risk of receiving some injury on the job and must follow safety precautions when working with large equipment. Many work full-time, though some may work night and weekend shifts.

Career Requirements

Degree Level high school diploma or GED; postsecondary, certificate, or associate degree preferred
Degree Field Industrial maintenance, computer programming, electronics, or electricity
Certification Professional certification optiona
Experience 2-5 years related work experience preferred; apprenticeships/on-the-job training available
Key Skills Diagnostic abilities, manual agility, math, proficiency with computerized diagnostic equipment, and computer programming skills; knowledge of computer-assisted manufacturing, design and spreadsheet software; welding and electronics repair; ability to decipher technical manuals; physical strength
Salary $49,690 per year (2015 median for industrial machinery mechanics)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals, Job postings, O*NET OnLine

Manufacturing mechanics are proficient with computerized diagnostic equipment. Manual agility, strong math skills, and computer programming skills are important. People in this career field are also knowledgeable about computer-assisted manufacturing, design and spreadsheet software, and welding and electronics repair. They possess the ability to decipher technical manuals and possess good physical strength. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2015 that industrial machinery mechanics in general earned a median salary of $49,690.

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Steps to Be a Manufacturing Mechanic

There are multiple education and training paths to a career as a manufacturing mechanic. Manufacturing mechanics generally possess education or training in the fields of industrial maintenance, computer programming, electronics, or electricity.

Step 1: Obtain Postsecondary Education and Training

Prospective manufacturing mechanics are often required to have at least one year of training and education beyond high school. Mechanics may choose among several paths for learning the necessary skills. Some mechanics complete on-the-job training, which is sometimes coupled with employer-provided courses at technical schools.

Individuals can also consider a manufacturing mechanic apprenticeship sponsored by a private company or labor union. Apprenticeships combine classroom study and college credit with paid, on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced workers. They generally last for four years. Upon completion, individuals become journeyman mechanics.

Another option for aspiring manufacturing mechanics is earning an associate's degree in industrial maintenance from a college or technical school. Some schools may also offer an industrial maintenance certificate program, which takes a year or less to complete. Degree and certificate programs provide classroom studies as well as hands-on learning with industry equipment. Programs generally include introductory machinery repair courses. Students in programs like these typically learn about blueprints, machinery vibration analysis, and electricity, as well as programmed logic controllers, hydraulics, and preventative maintenance. Industrial maintenance programs also generally include studies in safety procedures, troubleshooting, and welding.

Increase job opportunities by taking plenty of courses in skills preferred by potential employers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers favor hiring mechanics who have completed classes in subjects like computer programming, electronics, and mechanical drawing.

Step 2: Earn Optional Certification

The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) awards the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician (CMRT) designation to qualified applicants. While certification isn't required, it can lead to advancement opportunities and potentially greater job prospects. Candidates don't need to meet any specific educational or experience requirements for the CMRT credential. Individuals convicted of felonies and some other crimes are ineligible to take the qualifying exam, however. Certification requires completing a multiple-choice test on maintenance procedures, preventative maintenance, repairs, and troubleshooting.

Step 3: Maintain Professional Credentials

Manufacturing mechanics may advance their careers and receive recognition of their skills by earning and maintaining optional certification from a professional association. CMRTs maintain certification by meeting requirements established by the SMRP. Certified professionals must renew their credentials every three years by completing 50 hours of skill-development activities approved by the SMRP. Acceptable activities include pursuing industry-related continuing education classes, attending workshops and seminars, or writing articles for industry publications.

A career as a manufacturing mechanic is available through on-the-job training, an apprenticeship, or postsecondary education program in a related field that leads to a certificate or degree. Hands-on experience is important. Voluntary professional certification can improve job prospects and the chance for career advancement.

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