Career Development

What Does a Machine Technician Do?

Find out what a Machine Technician does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Machine Technician.

The Machine Technician plays an essential role in maintaining the seamless operation of machinery within a variety of settings, from manufacturing plants to production facilities. This position involves a blend of skills including troubleshooting, repair, and preventive maintenance, ensuring that equipment runs efficiently and downtime is minimized. By closely monitoring machine performance and conducting regular inspections, the Machine Technician helps to uphold quality standards, optimize productivity, and support the overall workflow. Their expertise not only contributes to the longevity of the machinery but also supports the safety and operational excellence of the workplace, making them an integral part of the technical team.

Machine Technician Job Duties

  • Perform routine maintenance on machinery, including lubrication, cleaning, and filter changes, to ensure optimal performance.
  • Diagnose mechanical issues through observation and testing, utilizing diagnostic equipment to pinpoint problems.
  • Repair or replace defective machine parts, using hand tools, machining tools, and welding equipment to restore functionality.
  • Adjust machine settings and controls, calibrating them for optimal performance and to meet specific production requirements.
  • Install new machinery, including assembling parts, connecting systems, and ensuring proper integration into production lines.
  • Document maintenance and repair activities, keeping detailed records of work performed, parts used, and time spent.
  • Train operators on proper machine use, emphasizing safety procedures and efficient operation techniques to prevent accidents and ensure productivity.
  • Participate in the design and modification of machinery, providing technical input to improve machine efficiency and safety based on operational experience.

Machine Technician Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing a Machine Technician’s salary include industry experience, specialized skills in advanced machinery or robotics, proficiency in maintenance software, and the complexity of machinery handled. Employers also consider the technician’s ability to minimize downtime and improve operational efficiency. Overtime availability and shift differentials can further affect earnings.

  • Median Annual Salary: $49,350 ($23.73/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $89,500 ($43.03/hour)

The employment of machine technicians is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

This growth is driven by the increasing automation in manufacturing and the need for maintenance of sophisticated machinery. Machine Technicians are essential for installing, repairing, and maintaining these complex systems, ensuring operational efficiency and minimizing downtime in production processes.

Machine Technician Job Requirements

Education: A Machine Technician typically pursues education beyond high school, with many opting for a Post-Secondary Certificate or an Associate’s Degree in fields such as mechanical engineering technology, electronics, or industrial maintenance. High school graduates often enhance their qualifications with courses in math, physics, and computer science to better prepare for the technical aspects of the job. Specialized training in machine operation, troubleshooting, and repair is also common, aligning with the practical demands of the role.

Experience: Machine Technicians typically enter the field with hands-on experience, often gained through on-the-job training or formal training programs. They should have a background in operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting various types of machinery. Experience with mechanical systems, understanding of technical manuals, and familiarity with safety protocols are essential. Continuous learning to keep up with technological advancements is also crucial. Ideal candidates have a blend of practical experience and participation in structured training to hone their skills in machinery management and repair.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications and licenses are not typically required for the job of Machine Technician.

Machine Technician Skills

Precision Calibration: A skill centered on adjusting, testing, and maintaining machinery for optimal performance. It demands a meticulous attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge of mechanical systems. Technicians use specialized tools and technologies to measure, adjust, and verify machine functions, ensuring alignment with manufacturers’ specifications and industry standards.

Electrical Troubleshooting: Involves diagnosing and fixing electrical faults in complex machinery, from wiring errors to system malfunctions. Technicians employ a methodical approach to quickly restore equipment functionality, aiming for minimal downtime and optimal operational efficiency.

Hydraulic Systems: Focuses on the design, troubleshooting, and maintenance of machinery powered by fluid dynamics. A deep understanding of fluid mechanics, pressure control, and the ability to read hydraulic schematics are essential for effective problem-solving and system optimization.

Pneumatic Systems: Pertains to the efficient design, operation, and maintenance of systems utilizing compressed air or gas. Technicians ensure the smooth and reliable operation of automated equipment, crucial for minimizing downtime and enhancing productivity in manufacturing environments.

CNC Programming: Entails creating precise instructions for computer-controlled machinery to produce intricate parts and components accurately. It requires extensive knowledge of software, tools, and materials to optimize production processes and maintain product quality.

Preventive Maintenance: Focuses on regular inspections, lubrication, and adjustments to keep machinery running smoothly and efficiently. Technicians must understand each machine’s specific needs and proactively address potential issues to prevent costly downtime or repairs.

Machine Technician Work Environment

Machine technicians typically operate in industrial or manufacturing settings, where the ambiance is defined by the hum and whir of machinery. Their workspace is often shared with large equipment, necessitating a keen awareness of their surroundings for safety. The tools of their trade range from hand tools for adjustments to sophisticated diagnostic software for troubleshooting.

Work hours can extend beyond the typical nine-to-five, especially in facilities that run around the clock, requiring shifts that may include nights and weekends. The dress code leans towards practicality, with protective gear being paramount to shield against workplace hazards.

The social environment is collaborative, with technicians frequently interacting with fellow technicians, engineers, and production staff to ensure machinery operates smoothly. Despite the noise and the physical demands, there’s a strong undercurrent of teamwork and a shared goal of maintaining productivity.

Professional development opportunities are often available, encouraging technicians to stay abreast of technological advancements in machinery and diagnostics, which in turn contributes to a culture of continuous improvement and learning.

Advancement Prospects

Machine Technicians can progress to supervisory roles, overseeing teams and managing workflows. With experience, they might specialize in areas like CNC programming or robotics, enhancing their value and career prospects. Advancement often involves taking on more complex projects, demonstrating leadership, and improving efficiency within manufacturing processes.

Transitioning into a maintenance planner or a reliability engineer role is common, focusing on preventative maintenance and system reliability. These positions require a deep understanding of machinery operations and the ability to predict and mitigate potential failures.

For those inclined towards innovation, moving into design and development offers a pathway to work on creating new machinery or improving existing models. This requires a strong foundation in mechanical principles and the ability to work closely with engineers and product development teams.


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