The Four Hottest Jobs in Factory Maintenance Getty Images

The Four Hottest Jobs in Factory Maintenance

What's the going rate for a reliability engineer or a maintenance tech? More than you might think. 

With clients including Caterpillar, Eaton and BorgWarner, Patrick Dean, director of recruiting for factory maintenance firm Advanced Technology Services, is perpetually on the lookout for a few—or a few dozen--good people in maintenance management, repair and IT services, mostly in the Southeast and Midwest. He talked to IndustryWeek about the most in-demand jobs in factory maintenance, and the going pay rates for those positions.

Maintenance manager (or site manager, or maintenance superintendent): “It’s hard to find people who have the right mix of both technical and people management skills,
Dean says. “Where we find the most success is hiring them early in their careers and grooming them to become leaders.”  Salary range is $80,000 to $100,000.

Reliability engineer. General mechanical, electrical and industrial engineers aren’t hard to find, but reliability engineers who know how to use predictive technology to make sure the machines stay up and running are more specialized and hence more rare. “We’re ideally looking for the people  who have the runway to move into leadership positions,” he says. A few schools, like University of Tennessee in Knoxville, offer a reliability engineering degree, but other engineers who qualify typically learn those skills on the job. An experienced reliability engineer earns in the ballpark of $70,000 to $100,000.

Maintenance technicians/specialists. This is another highly specialized field without a lot of formal training out there. High-level maintenance technicians do CNC (computer numerical control) and PLC (programmable logic control) troubleshooting, as well as PLC programming. Typically hourly employees, they earn in the $28 to $35/hour range at the senior level, plus overtime. For this position, “we’re more interested in job training than certification,” says Dean, although OEM certifications on particular brands of machinery also catch his eye.

Technical leader, regional manager. People with technical and leadership skills to manage multiple manufacturing sites typically earn in the $80,000 to $110,000 range. “For us at ATS, it would be customer management skills as well, since we have customers we’re interfacing with on a daily basis,” he says. “For the most part we try to fill those positions internally. It really becomes a challenge during times of significant growth, when we have to go externally [to fill] those positions.” 

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