A machine technician sets up, operates and carries out repair work on machinery. She should also be able to maintain and clean the machinery. She monitors the operation of machines and instructs other workers on how to operate and maintain them. A machine technician chooses an area of specialization depending on her interests and abilities.
Training and Experience
A machine technician who makes the most basic machine repairs needs only a high school diploma, but those who work on complicated machines need advanced training. For example, you can complete a certificate program in machine technology -- including classes in mathematics, science, manufacturing and production -- at a community college or vocational school. Practical experience is another must, and opportunities are available through formal apprentice programs and school internships.
Range of Duties
A machine technician’s main responsibility is designing and setting up machinery. He must also be skilled in operating machinery and diagnosing malfunctions. He identifies and recommends what equipment to use to carry out various operations. He ensures safety guidelines have been written and implemented. He tests the machines to make sure they are working properly. His duties also include support functions -- such as preventive maintenance and calibration of machines.
Competencies and Skills
A machine technician must know how to use design instruments, such as blueprints, technical plans and drawings. She must have mechanical aptitude and the ability to use mechanical tools and equipment. She needs communication skills to understand instructions, express herself and give useful feedback. Good vision, manual dexterity and control of movement are essential for working with tools. A technician also needs creativity, reasoning and problem-solving abilities to find solutions when machines malfunction.
The average salary for industrial technicians and mechanics was $49,560 annually as of 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-earning 10 percent received $31,090 per year or less, while the top 10 percent earned $71,930 annually or more. Wages vary with the job location, the particular industry and the worker's experience and education. Individuals who have only a high school diploma typically earn a lower pay rate. Machine technicians in the manufacturing industry are some of the highest-paid technicians.
Outlook and Prospects
The BLS predicts 19 percent growth in employment for machine technicians between 2012 and 2022, compared to 11 percent for all jobs on average. As machines grow more sophisticated, additional jobs are expected to appear for maintenance technicians and mechanics. The BLS expects very good prospects for machine technicians, especially those with apprenticeship experience or post-secondary training and a wide range of skills.
- Degree Directory.org: How Do I Become a Machine Repair Technician?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 -- Industrial Machinery Mechanics
- O*Net Online: Industrial Machinery Mechanics
- Photo Credit linephoto/iStock/Getty Images
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