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Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Millwrights - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Opportunities for advancement vary by specialty. Machinery maintenance workers, if they take classes and gain additional skills, may advance to industrial machinery mechanic or supervisor. Industrial machinery mechanics also advance by working with more complicated equipment and gaining additional repair skills. The most highly skilled repairers can be promoted to supervisor, master mechanic, or millwright. Experienced millwrights can advance into team leading roles.

Employment
Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers and millwrights held about 408,300 jobs in 2008. 45,200 of these jobs were held by millwrights, with the largest concentration of workers in manufacturing and construction industries. In manufacturing, many of these workers are employed in the transportation equipment, wood product, and paper manufacturing industries. In construction, most workers were employed in the nonresidential building, and building equipment contractors, industries. Also, some millwrights work in the utilities industry.

Industrial machinery mechanics held about 287,700 jobs, while machinery maintenance workers accounted for 75,400 jobs. Many of both types of workers were employed in the manufacturing sector in industries such as food processing and chemical, fabricated metal product, machinery, and motor vehicle and parts manufacturing. Additionally, about 10 percent work in wholesale trade, mostly for dealers of industrial equipment. Manufacturers often rely on these dealers to make complex repairs to specific machines. About 9 percent of mechanics work for the commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair and maintenance industry, often making site visits to companies to repair equipment.

Job Outlook
Employment is projected to grow more slowly than average, and applicants with broad skills in machine repair and maintenance should have favorable job prospects.

Job Growth
Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and millwrights is expected to grow 6 percent from 2008 to 2018, more slowly than the average for all occupations. The increased use of machinery in manufacturing will require more millwrights to install this equipment and more mechanics and maintenance workers to keep it in good working order.

Employment of millwrights is expected to grow 1 percent from 2008 to 2018, the equivalent of little or no change. The demand for millwrights is driven by the purchasing of machinery in the construction and manufacturing industries. Cost-cutting pressures will drive manufacturers to further automate production and increase machinery presence on the factory floor. The growth of the power industry will also generate work for millwrights, as they install and repair turbines on wind mills, coal plants, and hydroelectric dams.

Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers is expected to grow 7 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is slower than average. As factories become increasingly automated, these workers will be needed to maintain and repair the automated equipment. However, many new computer-controlled machines are capable of diagnosing problems quickly, resulting in faster and easier repair, which somewhat slows the growth of these occupations.

Applicants with broad skills in machine repair and maintenance should have favorable job prospects. In addition to job openings from growth, there will be a need to replace the many older workers who are expected to retire, and those who leave the occupation for other reasons. Some employers have reported difficulty in recruiting young workers with the necessary skills.

Mechanics and millwrights are not as affected by changes in production levels as other manufacturing workers, as mechanics and millwrights often are retained during production downtime to complete major equipment overhaul and to keep expensive machinery in working order.

Earnings
Median hourly wages of millwrights were $22.87 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $17.85 and $30.53. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $14.37, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37.02.

Median hourly wages of industrial machinery mechanics were $20.99 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $16.87 and $25.82. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $13.63, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $31.40.

Machinery maintenance workers earned somewhat less than the higher skilled industrial machinery mechanics. Median hourly wages of machinery maintenance workers were $17.69 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.75 and $22.82. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.83, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $28.10.

In 2008, almost half of all millwrights belonged to unions, while about 19 percent of industrial machinery mechanics were union members.

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