What is an Industrial Maintenance Associate Degree?
Earning an associate degree in the field of industrial maintenance technology is the first step in beginning a successful career. An associate degree typically takes about two years to complete; at the end of it, you should be ready for an entry-level job in the field or to continue your education in a bachelor's degree program. While earning an industrial maintenance associate degree, you will gain foundational knowledge in topics such as electricity, hydraulics, industrial mechanics, machining, welding methods, refrigeration, and more. After earning your degree, you could begin a career as an industrial maintenance technician, machine operator, electrician, or hospital engineer, among many other career options in the field. Industrial maintenance associate degree graduates work in settings like hospitals, mines, paper mills, and manufacturing.
Why Should I Get an Industrial Maintenance Associate Degree?
A career in industrial maintenance may be a good fit if you enjoy working with your hands and are good at math and science. If you are fascinated by machinery and working on machinery, then earning an associate degree in industrial maintenance may be exactly what you need to jumpstart a rewarding career. Although some jobs will hire industrial maintenance workers with just a high school diploma or GED, having an associate degree in the field will be to your advantage. An associate degree in industrial maintenance can help you reach professional goals in the field because having a degree often means more opportunities for career advancement and promotions. If you are looking to start your career relatively soon after high school, then an associate degree may be the best route since completion takes about two years compared to the four years a bachelor's degree would take.
How to Choose an Industrial Maintenance Associate Program
With so many options for industrial maintenance associate degree programs, choosing the best one for you may feel daunting. One of the first decisions to make when choosing a program is whether you will need to attend classes online or in person. Although, there may be hands-on, practical experience required as part of some courses. An advantage of enrolling in an online industrial maintenance associate degree program may be the ability to complete your education on-demand, meaning there would be no set class schedules and you could take classes whenever is best for you. The location of the program may also be important to you and you should decide whether you would like to attend classes near home or in a new city.
If learning outcomes are important to you, be sure to become familiar with those of your desired program. Some common outcomes for students of industrial maintenance associate degree programs include:
- Conduct and analyze experiments
- Identify and solve industrial maintenance problems
- Demonstrate commitment to quality and continuous improvement and professional development
- Obtain and use knowledge of basic machining principles
- Use modern tools in engineering technology activities
Application and Admissions for Industrial Maintenance Associate Degree Programs
Application and admission requirements for industrial maintenance associate degree programs will vary, but there are some common traits among programs. A high school diploma or GED is required to be admitted into most industrial maintenance associate degree programs. Your high school GPA will most likely not be taken into account on your application. A completed application and application fee will be required, along with high school transcripts. Some schools require immunization records as part of your application. There are not typically prerequisite courses that you will need to have done prior to being accepted into an industrial maintenance associate degree program. Classes will begin either at the start of the fall or spring semester. However, some online programs will allow you to begin and take your classes year-round, on your own schedule, and at your own pace.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Industrial Maintenance Associate Degree?
Most programs require you to complete just over 60 credits. Associate degrees are typically divided like this: around 30 credits of general education and electives and 30 credits in the major. Most full-time students take 15 credit hours per semester. So, on average, an associate degree in industrial maintenance takes two years, or four semesters, to complete.
How Much Does an Associate Degree in Industrial Maintenance Cost?
It's no secret that college is expensive, but one of the advantages of an associate degree is the lower cost. In-state tuition will always be more affordable than out-of-state tuition, as out-of-state tuition can be three times more than in-state. Many schools charge tuition by credit hour. In-state tuition at a community college can range from $117-$180 or more per credit hour, while out-of-state tuition at the same schools ranges from $350-$625 per credit hour. There will be additional fees like processing fees as well as application fees, plus costs for room and board, transportation, food, and other personal costs as needed.
Associate Degree Coursework
Industrial maintenance associate degrees typically require about 60 or more credits to be completed for graduation. More than half of these credits will come from degree-specific courses with the rest being general education. General education requirements include English, Writing, Mathematics, Humanities, Sciences, and Public Speaking courses. There is often allowance for one or two elective courses in your curriculum, but the degree-specific courses are where you will probably gain the most knowledge to use towards your career in industrial maintenance.
Common courses specific to an associate degree in industrial maintenance include:
- Electrical Troubleshooting
- Industrial Electricity
How Much Can I Earn With an Associate Degree in Industrial Maintenance
Earning an associate degree in industrial maintenance means you can start working and earning a salary in about two years. According to PayScale, industrial maintenance technology workers who have obtained an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in the field can make an average annual salary of $50,050. Maintenance supervisors and HVAC technicians can both make over $60,000 per year on average. In 2020, the BLS reported the median salary of industrial machinery maintenance workers and mechanics to be $54,920 and the hourly pay to be $26.40 per hour.
Salaries in the field of industrial maintenance technology can vary depending on the job. For example, labor maintenance workers and electrical repair and maintenance workers both make just under $40,000 per year on average. A maintenancedirector has an average salary of $59,828 as of 2020. All of these jobs mentioned require a high school diploma, but an associate degree in industrial maintenance technology can mean a higher starting salary and an advantage for being hired.
Begin a Career as an Industrial Maintenance Technology Worker
There are numerous job options for those who have earned an associate degree in industrial maintenance technology. A high school diploma is typically the education requirement for jobs in the field but having an associate degree may increase your chances of being hired as well as your salary. The specific niche of industrial maintenance you work in will determine your job duties and salary. A few career options for industrial maintenance include heavy equipment maintenance, building equipment maintenance, motor vehicle manufacturing, and fabricated metals. Some examples of work settings are factories, mines, paper mills, and hospitals. The job duties in the field can certainly differ, with the duties of industrial electronics mechanics varying greatly from those of a property management and maintenance worker.
The BLS lists job duties of industrial machinery workers as:
- Disassemble machinery and equipment as needed
- Repair and replace malfunctioning machinery components
- Perform tests on machinery to ensure it is running smoothly
- Run diagnostic tests on machinery
- Clean and move machinery safely
Accreditation for Industrial Maintenance Associate Degree Programs
Attending an accredited college, technical school, or university for your industrial maintenance associate degree program will mean your education has met specific standards and you will be able to rest assured that you are gaining the knowledge you will need for your career. Accreditation is important as it legitimizes your program of choice. Although there is no accreditation agency specifically for industrial maintenance programs, several agencies accredit schools. Some of these include the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Career Advancement in Industrial Maintenance
If you are entering the field of industrial maintenance, it may be reassuring to know that career advancement is possible, even without going back to school. Of course, earning a bachelor's degree or other advanced degrees may mean higher earning potential, but there are other ways to advance a career in industrial maintenance. Those already working in the industrial maintenance field can advance their careers through certificates and apprenticeships. A certificate in a specialized field of industrial maintenance may take up to one year to complete and will require enrolling in classes. An apprenticeship entails shadowing a person in a higher position to learn new skills and potentially be promoted to their position in the future. Additionally, moving up to a maintenance supervisor role will advance your career and salary.
Transfer Options After Completing an Industrial Maintenance Associate Degree
You can transfer credits from an industrial maintenance associate degree program to a bachelor's degree program. The bachelor's program will take about two years of additional education to complete. Some schools with both an associate-level and bachelor's level program will allow students to easily transfer credits to earn a B.A.S. degree or Bachelor of Applied Science. Another option is to enroll in a bachelor's degree program after working in the field for some time. You will be able to apply credits from your associate degree program to a bachelor's degree program even if it is a school you have not attended before or if it has been several years since graduating with your associate degree. There will be options to transfer to both a Bachelor of Science program or a Bachelor of Applied Science program in the field of industrial maintenance.
What Are Other Industrial Maintenance Degree Options?
While many working in industrial maintenance stop their education after high school or an associate degree, there are industrial maintenance bachelor's degree programs and related programs at the graduate and doctorate degree levels. Earning a degree beyond your associate degree in industrial maintenance may mean more job opportunities, room for career growth, and greater salary potential.
Bachelor's Degrees in Industrial Maintenance
If you choose to earn a bachelor's degree in industrial maintenance, you may be earning a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.). Programs with an associate degree program may offer a B.A.S. for you to transfer credits earned from the institution's associate degree program to the B.A.S. program. Some bachelor's degree programs in the field of industrial maintenance technology require that you already have two years of education from an associate degree. These types of programs will take an additional two years on average to complete. There are also related bachelor's degree maintenance programs that offer expanded knowledge on topics such as aviation maintenance.
Master's Degrees in Industrial Maintenance
While master's degree programs specific to industrial maintenance are difficult to find, there are programs in related fields that may be of interest to those working in the field of industrial maintenance technology. For example, a Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial Engineering may be a suitable graduate-level degree program to increase technical skills and develop a greater understanding of business in the field. Another option could be an M.S. in Aviation Maintenance. A bachelor's degree will be required for admission into a master's degree program, and some programs with an engineering focus may require engineering classes or an engineering degree.
Doctoral Degrees in Industrial Maintenance
Although there are not doctorates specific to industrial maintenance, there are related degree programs for those looking to advance their education to the doctorate level. A master's degree will typically be required for doctorate degree program admission. Examples of doctoral degree programs in related topics include industrial engineering and building science. Doctorate programs typically require dissertations and research as part of the graduation process, so a deep interest and understanding in the degree field will be important.
Certificate Programs in Industrial Maintenance
You can earn a certificate in industrial maintenance in a short amount of time by completing classes online or in person. The required credits for certificate programs range from 15-30 credits. A certificate program in industrial maintenance may be a good option for those needing to quickly start a career in the field. Earning a certificate in industrial maintenance can help prepare students for a career as industrial maintenance technicians, industrial machine operators, industrial electricians or mechanics, and hospital engineers.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for Industrial Maintenance Associate Degrees
Students in associate degree programs can apply for various types of financial aid, like scholarships, grants, and loans. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, may lead to federal financial aid to use towards an industrial maintenance associate degree. Many colleges and universities also have their own financial aid programs to which students can apply. Some students choose to apply for loans through private organizations rather than fill out a FAFSA.
Typical requirements for many financial aid programs include:
- Completed application
- U.S. Citizenship
- Proof of financial need
- Academic good standing
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Not in default on any federal student loans
Applications for financial aid are typically due before the start of the school year or semester. Some applications for financial aid will ask for references or personal statements. It will be helpful to know what is required prior to beginning an application for financial aid.