You don’t have to get a four-year college degree to qualify for a great career. There are lots of opportunities in the industrial sector that pay well and don’t require so much training. One of the best examples of this is the position of the industrial mechanic.
Industrial mechanics make a good income, work normal hours, and are in demand across the United States. You might be interested in becoming one yourself. If so, keep reading to learn what a day in the life of an industrial mechanic looks like.
Where do industrial mechanics work?
The vast majority of industrial mechanics work in one of three locations: factories, power plants, and construction sites. These are pretty noisy places, which can also be a bit chaotic.
Most industrial mechanics work full-time and are scheduled for normal hours. However, some industrial mechanics may be asked to work on-call, at night, or on the weekend. Overtime is also fairly common for workers in this position.
IS AN INDUSTRIAL MECHANIC’S JOB DANGEROUS?
An industrial mechanic’s job is more dangerous than many others. It involves working closely with heavy industrial machinery, which has the potential to injure a worker in several different ways.
For example, an industrial mechanic can have a body part get stuck in a machine and crushed. There’s also a regular risk of being burned or cut. That’s why industrial mechanics are always supposed to wear safety equipment, such as glasses, gloves, and safety shoes.
Often, accidents occur when an industrial mechanic lets their guard down while doing a routine procedure. But you can avoid getting injured as an industrial mechanic by using caution while you work and always following the recommended safety practices.
A day in the life of an industrial mechanic
If you’re thinking about becoming an industrial mechanic, you should know what an average day in the position looks like. Use the information below to inform your decision about whether you want to pursue the job.
CLOCKING IN AND GETTING STARTED
Most industrial mechanics begin their days at the same time each morning. The exact hour will vary from job to job, but it’s usually between 7:30 and 9:00.
The first thing an industrial mechanic does when they get to work is to clock in and put on their safety gear. They typically wear hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protectors. Some may also choose to wear protective shoes and gloves.
Once that’s done, the industrial mechanic will make their way out to the floor. They’ll consult with a supervisor to catch themselves up with the operations of the factory and figure out what they’re going to be working on for the day.
WORKING ON THE DAY’S TASKS
After getting settled, the industrial mechanic will begin working on their tasks for the day. They may need to gather the right tools and materials before diving into their jobs. An industrial mechanic may do a variety of things on an average day. These tasks include:
- Examining machines for defects
- Lubricating and adjusting parts
- Observing and testing machinery
- Creating records of parts used and maintenance tasks completed
- Operate newly repaired machines to verify they work correctly
There are other tasks that an industrial mechanic may work on during an average day as well. For instance, they might be asked to cut and weld metal to fabricate new parts or repair existing ones. Similarly, someone in this role may spend some time entering instructions into computer-controlled machinery.
There may also be times during which an industrial mechanic needs to drop all of their daily tasks and focus on something else entirely. This happens when a machine displays an error message and stops working. When that occurs, the industrial mechanic has to respond to it as quickly as possible to fix the machine and ensure it doesn’t delay the factory’s objective.
FINISHING UP FOR THE DAY
Assuming nothing went wrong during the shift, an industrial mechanic will usually finish up between 5:00 and 6:00. They may end their day by finishing up records of the work they did during that shift or by communicating what they completed to a supervisor.
Then the industrial mechanic will take off their safety gear, clock out, and head home for the day. They may be asked to stay late from time to time when the factory’s machines need extra work.
What type of training does an industrial mechanic need?
You don’t need a four-year degree to become an industrial mechanic, but you might need a two-year one. This varies from employer to employer. Some are okay with hiring candidates who only have a high school degree. Others want their industrial mechanics to have a two-year associate’s degree.
Earning a two-year degree could be a good idea if you want to qualify for as many industrial mechanic jobs as possible. You may also make more from the beginning with an associate’s degree.
Look for industrial maintenance programs at local technical schools and community colleges. The program should include classes like welding, industrial mathematics, hydraulics, and pneumatics, among others.
You will also spend some time training on the job. This is when you’ll develop the real-world skills you need to be successful as an industrial mechanic. On-the-job training typically lasts about a year. You can usually do it through the employer that hires you.
Is becoming an industrial mechanic right for you?
Industrial mechanics make an average of $52,860 per year or $25.41 per hour. That’s solid — especially when compared to other jobs you can qualify for without a college degree.
Spend some time thinking about whether these numbers will work for you before you decide to pursue the career.
If you’re going to spend at least 40 hours a week somewhere, you want to make sure your time there isn’t miserable. Consider whether working on a factory floor or a construction site is right for you.
You need to be okay with constant loud noises and a bit of chaos. On the positive side, most industrial mechanics work at the same place every day. You won’t have to worry about traveling for work or spending too much time away from your family as an industrial mechanic.
Industrial mechanics need to possess a few key skills. For example, manual dexterity is super important because these workers need to be able to handle very small parts. You will also need strong technical, mechanical, and troubleshooting skills to be a good industrial mechanic.
You can still become an industrial mechanic if you don’t have the right skillset currently. You will just need to spend a bit more time working on development before you will be successful in the role.
YOUR WILLINGNESS TO TRAIN
You don’t necessarily need to earn a degree before becoming an industrial mechanic. But doing so is often a good idea. And even if you don’t, you will need to spend some time completing on-the-job training when you first get hired.
That means you need to be willing to invest some time in developing your skills and knowledge if you want to become an industrial mechanic. Make sure you’re ready to make that commitment before entering into the field.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT
It’s also worth considering what your long-term career outlook is like as an industrial mechanic. As you gain experience, you could qualify for higher-paying positions in your field with more responsibility.
For example, the most common advancement for an industrial mechanic is becoming a maintenance supervisor. This involves overseeing a team of industrial mechanics. You might also become a manager someday who has even more responsibilities within the factory that you work.
To advance as an industrial mechanic, you need to be great at what you do. Expect to spend at least a few years as an industrial mechanic before qualifying for some of these advanced employment opportunities.