Is Industrial Machinery a Good Career Path?

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You don’t have to earn a college degree to have a promising career. There are many high-paying, rewarding jobs that you can pursue without having to earn a diploma to do so. Industrial machining is a perfect example.

Industrial machinery mechanics make good money and have a high degree of job satisfaction. The demand for the position is also projected to grow considerably in the coming years.

So if you’re mechanically-inclined and looking for a new career, then you should consider industrial machinery. 

But don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the job or what it entails — we’ve put together the following guide to help you decide whether or not this is a good fit for you.

What is an Industrial Machinery Mechanic?

Industrial machinery mechanics are a specific type of machinist. They’re distinguishable from other workers in this job in that they tend to spend most of their time working on maintenance tasks. That’s why you might also sometimes see them called maintenance machinists.

Industrial machinery mechanics complete a wide variety of tasks to ensure that the machines they work on continue functioning optimally. 

For example, they read technician manuals to develop a keen understanding of various machines. Then, when the machine has a problem, they use their specialized knowledge to detect and repair it.

This may require the industrial machinery mechanic to replace malfunctioning parts, use computerized diagnostic systems, and tools like lathes, grinders, and drill presses. Some industrial machinery mechanics also need to be able to weld.

Some of the most common machines that an employee in this role works with include:

Why Should I Become One?

There are several reasons why you might be interested in becoming an industrial machinery mechanic. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones in the following sections.

VARIED JOB DUTIES

Industrial machinery mechanics rarely get bored on the job. That’s because they typically have a wide variety of job duties to keep them busy. This also has the effect of keeping their days interesting.

For example, someone in this role might spend one day reading technical manuals to learn about a new machine. The next day they might use specialized equipment to run tests on the machine to ensure that it’s operating as well as it could be.

Then a few days after that the industrial machinery mechanic could be tasked with disassembling the machine, creating new parts for it, or installing those parts. 

No two days are entirely alike for an employee in this position. So it’s a good career path for someone who would like to avoid boring repetition in the workplace.

Some of the other tasks that you might complete as an industrial machinery mechanic include:

BECOMING ONE DOESN’T TAKE LONG

Industrial machinery is also a solid career choice for people who don’t want to have to spend years pursuing a college degree. The highest level of education that you need to complete to earn this job is your high school diploma.

Of course, many industrial machinery mechanics also end up earning an associate’s degree or certification in industrial maintenance. But these only take a maximum of two years to complete. You would likely be able to do so in a year if you put your mind to it.

You’ll also need to complete a bit of on-the-job training before you can become a full-fledged industrial machinery mechanic. This is when you’ll gain hands-on experience with tasks like blueprint reading, shop mathematics, and proper tool use.

But this training only takes about a year to complete. And you’ll be getting paid throughout the entire process. So all in, you could become a professional industrial machinery mechanic in as little as two years.

SOLID EARNING POTENTIAL

In terms of pay, industrial machinery is one of the best fields to enter without a college degree. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for workers in this role was $52,860 as of May 2019. Compare that to the average salary for all individuals without a college degree in the United States, which is just $30,500.

HIGH JOB SATISFACTION

The best way to figure out whether a job is rewarding is to ask the people who work in the role what they think. 

With that in mind, about 67% of industrial machinery mechanics report being satisfied with their job. Compare that to the national average job satisfaction score, which is just 45%

These stats don’t guarantee that you’ll love your job as an industrial machinery mechanic. But they do suggest that you could be happier in the role than you might be in other positions.

HIGH GROWTH POTENTIAL

The demand for industrial machinery mechanics is already high and is only projected to grow in the future. We can track this with data created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

They say that the average rate of growth for all occupations in the United States will be 4% from 2019 to 2029. But the growth rate of industrial machinery mechanics will be 13%.

That’s a massive difference that could account for tens of thousands of additional job opportunities for you to choose from. 

If you’re looking for a career where finding a job may be easier, then becoming an industrial machinery mechanic could be a great option for you.

ESTABLISHED PATHS FOR ADVANCEMENT

It’s dangerous to enter into a profession where there is no clear way to advance into higher-paying opportunities as you gain experience. Thankfully, that isn’t a problem for industrial machinery mechanics. 

As they develop their expertise, employees in the role can have many different pathways for advancement to choose from.

Some of the most common career paths for an industrial machinery mechanic include:

The downsides of becoming an industrial machinery mechanic

The work-life of an industrial machinery mechanic isn’t all roses. There are some things that you should consider before committing yourself to this line of work.

First, the job can be a dangerous one. You’ll likely be working with heavy machinery that can seriously damage various parts of your body if you’re not careful. Your risk of being injured may be higher than it would be in other industries.

Additionally, you should be prepared to work hard and get dirty. When a machine stops working it can cause an entire facility to go down. So you may have to work on that machine continuously until either it’s repaired or someone shows up to relieve you. 

That could require you to keep working for far longer than your 8-hour shift.

All the while, you’ll be working near dirt and grease, and likely sweating. So there’s a good chance that you and your clothes will be filthy at the end of some days.

The bottom line: is industrial machinery a good career path?

It’s important to weigh the pros against the cons before making any lasting career decision. When doing that for industrial machinery mechanics, the pros seem to outweigh the cons considerably.

Becoming an industrial machinery mechanic is a great way to increase your earnings potential without having to complete a bachelor’s degree to do so. 

The job is also rewarding, full of advancement opportunities, and projected to grow in demand considerably in the coming years.

Many people who are interested in the job ultimately decide to pursue it for precisely these reasons. Just keep in mind that there are some risks inherent to the position and the work can be tough. 

But if you have a good work ethic and love working with machines, then industrial machinery could be your ideal career path.

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