Maintenance mechanic is a job position that is very similar to a maintenance technician, both in terms of required skills and the list of expected responsibilities. That being said, there are some differences we can observe, mainly in the volume of different types of tasks they perform.
Whether you are looking to hire a maintenance mechanic to round up your maintenance department or you are looking to become one, this article will do its best to show you what is expected from a good maintenance mechanic and how that work is compensated in terms of salary and benefits.
What is a maintenance mechanic?
A maintenance mechanic is a part of the maintenance team that takes care of all sorts of equipment maintenance work. In most cases, a maintenance mechanic will split his time between equipment installations, routine maintenance tasks, and equipment repairs.
In contrast to maintenance technicians that are more oriented towards maintaining and repairing building systems and doing more general maintenance tasks that do not require specialized training, maintenance mechanics are mostly focused on the machines. They will know the inside and out of specific machinery at their facility and perform machine-related maintenance tasks.
Maintenance mechanic job description and responsibilities
The maintenance mechanic is responsible for keeping the equipment at their facility in good operating condition by performing preventive maintenance, machine tests, troubleshoots, removing technical issues, and performing emergency repairs.
Here is a list of common job duties of a maintenance mechanic:
installation and assembling of new machines and equipment
maintaining a schedule for inspecting, servicing, and testing machinery
diagnosing and repairing machine failures
installing replacement parts (which he often fabricates himself using machine shop instrumentation)
using power tools and different hand tools to execute assigned maintenance tasks and work orders
following industry best practices, SOPs, loto procedures, and other safety guidelines
logging performed maintenance work (be that via paper documentation or CMMS)
Senior maintenance mechanics can sometimes have a say in creating maintenance schedules and assigning work to other team members. Lastly, they are also tasked with looking over and training new maintenance mechanics that enter their plant floor.
What makes a great maintenance mechanic
When we take into consideration the conditions maintenance mechanics work in and the types of tasks they perform, certain characteristics can be easily singled out as more important than others.
Some of them might be obvious to you, but others probably not.
#1) Problem-solving skills
In an effort to make the life of a maintenance mechanic easier, some organizations will look to define detailed standard operating procedures and preventative maintenance checklists. However, a mechanic will need to do much more than handling a few preventive maintenance tasks.
He will need to install new machines based on different schematics, he will need to quickly perform routine maintenance, he will need to identify machine breakdown causes, and he will certainly need to improvise ad-hoc solutions on the spot (hopefully not very often).
To be able to do all of that efficiently, a maintenance mechanic should be a person that has good problem-solving skills.
#2) Technical skills and qualifications
You can’t be a maintenance mechanic without having some basic technical skills. Of course, it is not expected that a mechanic knows how to fix every issue of a machine he sees for the first time. However, it is important that he knows how to read schematics, how to use precision measurement tools, can follow instructions, understands general mechanical systems, and is willing to learn.
On the screenshot below, you can see a common list of certifications for a maintenance mechanic, picked up from a job platform called Indeed.
Different businesses will require different qualifications. For example, a maintenance mechanic that is a part of a building maintenance team might not need a forklift certification, but he definitely needs the HVAC one.
At the end of the day, it is important to have a good foundation that facilitates the quick adoption of new skills. The maintenance departments are likely to experience talent shortages going forward so they are going to need to start looking for people that have less experience but have good base skills and are willing to improve.
#3) Physical ability
If you are surprised that being a maintenance mechanic is a physical job, then you are in the wrong place.
While not every mechanic needs to be in great physical shape, it certainly helps if they are. After all, it is a position where you have to spend time in awkward positions, pick-up some heavier tools and items from time to time, occasionally spend your whole day on your legs with only short breaks, stay overtime, and so on.
Exhaustion leads to a lack of concentration, which leads to safety risks. Being able to handle the physical requirements of the job makes a much safer environment for both the mechanic and everyone else on the plant floor.
#4) Being good with their hands
This one is a no brainer. Having steady hands and not being afraid to get their hands dirty is a staple for every maintenance mechanic. In fact, many people will get into this profession because they like to work with their hands and love to learn the inner workings of different machines.
Some maintenance actions will require a certain amount of finesse and in these situations having steady hands (both literally and metaphorically) will be very useful.
#5) Basic computer skills
In this day and age when more and more organizations focus on streamlining all of their business processes, digitalization has slowly crept up even into the maintenance department.
In other words, if a maintenance mechanic doesn’t know how to open an email or use a communication app on their smartphone, that is going to be a problem. When you consider that many businesses are going a step further and implementing CMMS software, a mechanic should be able to adopt these types of apps quickly with a little bit of training.
If adopting an app becomes an issue across your department, it pays to investigate if the problem is actually in the app and not in the users. While many CMMS solutions and similar digital products tout how they are built to be user-friendly, a lot of them actually offer poor user experience and require a lot of user training. This primarily happens as vendors try to cram in more and more features and because of poor design practices.
Maintenance mechanic salary
How much does a maintenance technician make? Well, that depends on the size of the organization they work for and how many years of experience they gathered under their belts.
To give you a clearer image and provide actual numbers, we took a look at the biggest online job platforms. Their average maintenance mechanic salary in the US stands as follows:
PayScale has the median yearly salary (without benefits) as $49k, which amounts to $21.29 per hour
Salary.com states that the hourly wage for an industrial maintenance mechanic is between $20 and $34 with a yearly salary between $41k and $70k
Federalpay.orgdata shows that a maintenance mechanic who worked for the government in 2018. earned almost $58k on average
Indeed says that the average yearly salary is around $50k with an additional $8k earned in overtime
If you take a step back, you can see that the expected salary for an entry-level position is around $30k per year while technicians with 10+ years of experience that are ready to take a more supervisory role can earn north of $60k per year.
If we make an average out of the average salaries listed above, the number we get is $49k per year – without overtime and bonuses.
There you have it. This is what it takes to be a maintenance mechanic and how the market values the performed work.
As with any job, it comes with its set of pros and cons. One thing you can’t argue against is that it is an integral part of most maintenance teams.
Are you a maintenance mechanic or looking to hire one? Share your experiences in the comments below.