Industrial Machinery Mechanic Career Description


Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

What they do

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically do the following:

  • Read technical manuals to understand equipment and controls
  • Disassemble machinery and equipment when there is a problem
  • Repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components
  • Perform tests and run initial batches to make sure that the machine is running smoothly
  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications
  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
  • Move machinery and equipment

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in working order by detecting and correcting errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Many of these machines are increasingly run by computers. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after detecting a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. They may use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems. Examples of machines they may work with are robotic welding arms, automobile assembly line conveyor belts, and hydraulic lifts.

After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is operating correctly.

In addition to working with hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, and drill presses. Many also are required to weld.

Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They clean and lubricate machinery, perform basic diagnostic tests, check the performance of the machine, and test damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.

Machinery maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. They perform minor repairs, generally leaving major repairs to industrial machinery mechanics.

Maintenance workers use a variety of tools to do repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, they may use a screwdriver or socket wrenches to adjust a motor’s alignment, or they might use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.

Millwrights install, maintain, and disassemble industrial machines. Putting together a machine can take a few days or several weeks.

Millwrights perform repairs that include replacing worn or defective parts of machines. They also may be involved in taking apart the entire machine, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. In taking apart a machine, millwrights carefully disassemble, categorize, and package each part of the machine.

Millwrights use a variety of hand tools, such as hammers and levels, as well as equipment for welding, brazing, and cutting. They also use measuring tools, such as micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers, and other precision-measuring devices. On large projects, they commonly use cranes and trucks. When millwrights and managers determine the best place for a machine, millwrights use forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment to bring the parts to the desired location.

Work Environment

Working with industrial machinery can be dangerous. To avoid injury, workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-toed shoes, gloves, and earplugs.

Most industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call and work night or weekend shifts. Overtime is common, particularly for mechanics.

How to become an Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Machinery Maintenance Worker, and/or Millwright

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers also usually need a year or more of training after high school.

Most millwrights go through an apprenticeship program that lasts about 4 years.

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights generally need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some mechanics and millwrights complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance. Industrial maintenance programs may include courses such as welding, mathematics, hydraulics, and pneumatics.

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers typically receive more than a year of on-the-job training. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers learn how to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. They also may be instructed in subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, proper hand tool use, welding, electronics, and computer programming. This training may be offered on the job by professional trainers hired by the employer or by representatives of equipment manufacturers.

Most millwrights learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of relevant technical instruction and up to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, apprentices learn to set up, clean, lubricate, repair, and start machinery. During technical instruction, they are taught welding, mathematics, how to read blueprints, and machinery troubleshooting. Many also receive computer training.

After completing an apprenticeship program, millwrights are considered fully qualified and can usually perform tasks with less guidance.

Employers, local unions, contractor associations, and the state labor department often sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work


The median annual wage for industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights was $52,860 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,150.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation.

The continuing adoption of automated manufacturing machinery will require more maintenance workers, mechanics, and millwrights to keep machines in good working order over the next decade. The use of automated conveyors to move products and materials in factories is an area of high demand for these workers, because the conveyor belts, motors, and rollers need regular care and maintenance.

Similar Job Titles

Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance Millwright, Mechanical Superintendent, Millwright, Millwright Business Representative, Millwright Instructor, Precision Millwright, Building Maintenance Mechanic, Building Mechanic, Equipment Engineering Technician, Facilities Manager, Maintenance Engineer, Maintenance Man, Maintenance Supervisor, Maintenance Technician, Maintenance Worker, Fixer, Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Industrial Mechanic, Loom Fixer, Machine Adjuster, Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance Technician, Master Mechanic, Mechanic, Overhauler

Related Occupations

Industrial Machinery Mechanic:

Electric Motor/Power Tool and Related Repairer, Automotive Master Mechanic, Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic (except Engines), Maintenance Worker-Machinery, Maintenance and Repair Worker-General

Machinery Maintenance Worker:

Pipefitter and Steamfitter, Plumber, Motorboat Mechanic and Service Technician, Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Stationary Engineer and Boiler Operator


Pipefitter and Steamfitter, Plumber, Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Maintenance and Repair Worker-General, Commercial Divers

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

Industrial Machinery Mechanic:

Machinery Maintenance Worker:


Magazines and Publications

Industrial Engineer Magazine

Industrial and Systems Engineering Magazine

Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management

Control Engineering Magazine

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Video Transcript

Industrial machinery works around the clock to manufacture food products, generate power, and move suitcases at the airport. Industrial machinery maintenance workers, mechanics, and millwrights make sure industrial machinery stays on the job. Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs, such as cleaning and lubricating machinery, performing basic diagnostic tests, and testing damaged parts. Using computerized diagnostic equipment and expertise, industrial machinery mechanics detect and fix mechanical problems; just listening to a machine’s vibration, they can distinguish a worn belt from a weak motor bearing. Millwrights install and disassemble industrial machines as well as conduct repairs. They often move machines within a facility, carefully categorizing and sequencing every part. They use cranes and forklifts to bring the heavy parts to the new location. In addition to hand tools, these workers use welding and cutting equipment, and precision-measuring devices. Because of the high risk of injury on the job, safety precautions and protective equipment such as hardhats, steel-toed shoes, and earplugs are essential. Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers typically work regular, full-time hours, although overtime is common, especially for mechanics. Millwrights may have more variable schedules with downtime between projects, as they usually work on a contract basis to assemble or disassemble machines. While all 3 need a high school education to enter the field, machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training; industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training; and most millwrights learn their skills in a 4-year apprenticeship— although an associate’s degree in industrial maintenance may suffice.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
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