What to Look For in an Industrial Mechanic

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The demand for industrial mechanics is likely to boom in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of industrial machinery mechanics should grow 13% from 2019 to 2029. That’s much faster than the national average of about 3.7%.

But not all industrial mechanics are the same. If your company is interested in hiring one, it needs to be sure that it finds the right applicant. And the only way to do that is to understand the qualifications that separate the best industrial mechanics from the worst.

That’s why we’ve put together the following sections. Together, they’ll tell you everything that you need to know about what to look for in an industrial mechanic before making a hiring decision.

What do industrial mechanics do, exactly?

The first step to finding the right industrial mechanic for your company is understanding the responsibilities of the position. So let’s begin there.

An industrial machinery mechanic is a worker whose job is to maintain and repair factory equipment. They work on conveying systems, packaging equipment, and other types of machinery that are used in the production process.

Industrial mechanics begin by developing a keen understanding of the machinery that they work with. They do so by reading technical manuals, which help them to understand the various components of a machine and how to control them.

An employee in this role may also spend time:

What academic qualifications do they need to have?

More than half of all industrial machinery mechanics have either a certification or an associate’s degree. About 25% have a high school diploma and just 8% have a bachelor’s degree. So the general industry consensus is that an industrial mechanic should have either a high school diploma, a certificate, or an associate’s degree.

Many post-secondary schools offer programs designed specifically to train industrial mechanics. But you may also want to consider candidates who have related degrees or certifications.

For example, someone with a certification in machinery will likely have the skills and knowledge needed to excel as an industrial mechanic with your company. You can always ask your applicants to list the specific courses that they’ve taken if you’re unsure whether their academic qualifications are sufficient.

What work experience should an industrial mechanic have?

The work experience that you should look for in industrial mechanics may vary based on the position that you’re hiring for. 

Are you searching for an entry-level industrial mechanic who can carry out basic machine maintenance and repair tasks? If so, you may not need to look for any work experience at all. Or at least, you don’t need to disqualify applicants based on their not having much of it.

But you may be looking for an industrial mechanic to carry out highly specific, complicated tasks. In this situation, you would want to prioritize work experience heavily. It would be important to find candidates who have previously done the thing that you’re going to hire them to do at a professional level.

Of course, applicants who have previous experience as industrial mechanics should be at the top of your hiring list. But don’t discount the possibility that a candidate has developed similar skills working in a role with another title.

For example, you might find an applicant who has worked in roles like “journeyman mechanic” or “maintenance engineer technician”. Neither of these positions would involve completing the same tasks as an industrial mechanic. But each would have given the applicant plenty of opportunities to develop similar skills.

Are there any certifications that an industrial mechanic needs?

Certifications can help you distinguish between two candidates with backgrounds that are otherwise quite similar. Someone who has earned one has demonstrated their expertise in that specific aspect of the industrial mechanic’s role. 

There aren’t any certifications that an industrial mechanic must have. But here are some of the main ones that are worth looking out for.

PLANT MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGIST CERTIFICATION CLASS I, II, or III

This is a certification that’s offered by the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC). It’s offered at three levels, with each successive level demonstrating increased mastery of plant maintenance.

To earn the certification, an individual needs to have mastered the skills of:

CERTIFIED MAINTENANCE AND RELIABILITY TECHNICIAN

The Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP) offers this certification. An applicant who has earned the certification has had to demonstrate their ability to carry out some of the most important tasks of an industrial mechanic

The CMRT certification covers the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for preventative, predictive, and corrective maintenance. So if one of your applicants holds the certification, then you should have confidence that they’re up to the tasks of your industrial mechanic job.

MECHATRONICS: FLUID POWER 1

The Mechatronics: Fluid Power 1 certification is offered by the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. It denotes an individual who has proven their ability to operate and repair common components used in fluid power circuits and systems. The emphasis of the certification is on pneumatics.

What are the main skills that an industrial mechanic needs?

Many employers also ask their candidates to list relevant skills on the resumes that they submit with their applications. Doing so is a good way to ensure that the applicant you hire is capable of doing the work that’s required of industrial mechanics at your company.

Here are some of the main skills that you should look for when hiring a new industrial mechanic.

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

Preventative maintenance is one of the biggest tasks common to industrial mechanics. Your candidates must be capable of performing it on everything from conveyor belts to motors. A solid preventative maintenance schedule makes it much easier to troubleshoot and repair your machines when they go down.

PARTS REMOVAL / MACHINE DISASSEMBLY

To fix your machines, an industrial mechanic may need to be able to take them apart and put them back together without issue. So it will be valuable if you can find candidates who have done this type of mechanical work in a previous professional position. The skill makes it more likely that your downtime is as limited as possible whenever machine repairs are needed.

PARTS ADJUSTMENTS

Parts adjustment is another task that your industrial mechanics should carry out often. It’s typically done with tools such as straightedges, plumb bobs, and other manual hand tools. So any applicants who have previously worked with these things should be looked upon favorably.

DOWNTIME CONTROL

The best industrial mechanics implement specific practices designed to minimize downtime. Preventative maintenance is one key component of this. But it’s also important for your mechanics to keep a close eye on the performance of all of your machines as they operate. This skill can enable them to identify and respond to potential issues the moment that they present themselves.

INFORMATION COLLECTION AND REPORTS ANALYSIS

Reports on the operation of your machines can help mechanics identify trends and respond to potential problems before they express themselves. But to create and analyze these reports, an industrial mechanic might first have to be able to collect information about the machines. 

Someone who has done this in the past may be able to do it for your company immediately after being hired.

CONTINUITY MANAGEMENT

Watching over your machines is a 24/7 commitment. So your industrial mechanics need to be able to concisely convey the most important information to those who relieve them each day. This requires accurate documentation practices and strong communication skills. So make sure to look for these skills in your applicants as well.

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