Inside Mechanical Technician Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"The Toll It Took On My Body Was Unexpected...
The toll it takes on your body." (Mechanic; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Auto Mechanics at Pine Knot Job Corp in Kentucky; completed Certificate degree in 1999

"I Was Amazed How My Degree Aided My Promotion...
I was surprised how fast one can be promoted to a supervisory position with college degree. I had some practical experience but my education helped me reach a supervisory role." (Maintenance Supervisor; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Air Conditioning And Refrigeration at Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia; completed Associate degree in 2011

"Practice Makes Perfect...
Being a Mechanic surprised me in that Once you start working as one the job gets easier and easier. I thought I was not going to make it but it became second nature after a while. It is like practicing an instrument. The saying that practice makes perfect is true in the mechanical profession." (Car Mechanic; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Engineering at Montclair State in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2001

"Many Steps Involved In Manufacturing...
I am surprised about how difficult it is to create colors and textures for vinyl wall covering. The job involves matching colors through the mixing of pigments, then operating machinery to create embossed final pieces. It is not as simple as you would expect, and then the wide scale use of the finished product is also surprising." (Color Technician; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Anthropology/Art History at Northern Arizona University in Arizona; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Keep Up To Date With The Technology...
I am surprised by how quickly the sheet metal technology has advanced in recent years. One can expect to acquire additional professional training every few years to keep up to date." (Sheet Metal Manufacturing; 2014)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, male
School: Studied Turret And Laser Operation at Amada School @ Amada America in Illinois; completed Certificate degree in 2007

"People Skills Are Important In All Jobs...
I was surprised at how much manual work had to be done on a day to day basis. I was surprised that I would have to closely work with several individuals to accomplish a task." (Process Technician; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Manufacturing at Eastfield College in Texas; completed Associate degree in 2011

"I Was Surprised About How Little Technical Skill I Needed...
I was amazed at how little I really had to learn about CNC machines and programming to impress people. The level of technical knowledge people in the manufacturing trade have can be low. There are quite a few people who have skills that pre-date computers, and some simple skills with AutoCAD or a CAM program can really make you respectable money with little experience." (CNC Programmer; 2014)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Manufacturing Technology at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan in 2006

"Although Tedious At Times, Always Refer To The Fundamentals...
While it can be interesting to program and set up machines many people do not realize how tedious it can be to operate and repeat the same process once a job is set up. In order to be successful one must know how to read blueprints well, use measuring equipment, and always consider safety first. No matter how talented you are in this profession these basics are a must." (Machinist; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied CNC Machinist at De Anza College in California; completed Associate degree in 2011

"Functionality Disconnect Between Design To Function From Engineers To Technicians...
As a technician, and an engineer, I find it extremely surprising as to the disconnect of the mindsets between both of the fields. The people designing the equipment (the engineers) and the people building and/or maintaining the equipment (the technicians) have two very different views as to how it should run. My education taught me something very one sided; "You design it one way and it will work that way" That is not always the case. As having the education and then working in the field where building it and maintaining it, it gives me a major insight as to cycle life, longevity, and maintenance on a whole other level." (Manufacturing Manager And/Or Engineer; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, male
School: Studied Manufacturing Management And Engineering at Arizona State University in Arizona; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

I was surprised at how much math I needed as a machinist" (Machinist; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, male
School: Studied General Study at High School in Arizona; completed Diploma degree in 1986

"Communicating Vs. Designing Time...
I was surprised at how much time is spent communicating with technicians. I would have expected most of my time to be spent machining and designing in CAD." (CNC Machinist; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, male
School: Studied Machine Tool Technology at Ozarks Technical College in Missouri; completed Associate degree in 2006

"The job is finally paying off financially. I have reached a step in my career where I can go anywhere in this field. I am surprised at how the entire job market has been less rewarding than it was 2 decades ago. It was relevant 20 years ago and it is relevant now. It is not what you have done in the past that counts for your employer. It is what are you contributing now." (CNC Machinist; 2012)

Career: 22 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, male
School: Studied Machine Technology at WCTC in Wisconsin; completed Certificate degree in 2002

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Service Technician: "The thing I like about my career is working with the store managers and cashiers. It is like working with family as we all know each other. I also like being the one who can fix things and help keep the stations running. I dislike the traffic conditions at rush hour (but who doesn't). I dislike the times when customers forget that they are at a gas station and smoke cigarettes and do other unsafe things." (2011)

Mechanic: "The best part of my career is being recognized by the customers when the machines are running well. Bowlers, especially league bowlers, understand that things happen that are out of our control, but they do appreciate fast repairs and as little down time as possible. Nobody wants to have to sit around waiting on a machine to be fixed before they can finish their game. That leads to the worst part of my career. Some parts that break have a minimum one to two hour down time. A customer that is consistently having to wait is not as likely to come back, which is very bad for business. This would also look bad on me, the mechanic, when customers and bosses begin to question my competence on the job." (2011)

Career Background

Mechanical Technician

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Learn A Wide Variety Of Software And Machine Controls...
Learn the various programming software, and machine specific controls and functions. Keep your skills broad so you can find better opportunities." (CNC Programmer; 2014)

"Learn Multiple Skills...
There are different careers in manufacturing. Don't be afraid to learn multiple skills. This will make you more versatile and in higher demand as an employee." (Sheet Metal Manufacturing; 2014)

"Make Yourself Likable...
Even if you wind up in a field you weren't expecting, it is essential that you make yourself useful and likable to both coworkers and supervisors. A lasting impression can speak even more loudly than the work of your hands, especially in your first months in a new job." (Color Technician; 2014)

"Train For Success...
Train long and advance quickly." (Mechanic; 2014)

"Gain Entry Level Experience Before Deciding On This Career Path...
Before deciding whether or not this is the profession for you try finding a job as a CNC operator. Many companies will hire those with little to no experience and it will give you a better idea of the day to day routine of a machinist. It is not a job cut out for everybody but can be rewarding." (Machinist; 2014)

"Be Open To Other Ideas...
Always be open minded to all sides. If people are offering help, take it as each insight is something that may have not been thought of before. Education and theory is fine, but function and wear on items that is not in the original plan will cause problems down the road. Each item worked has your name on it, it's your reputation you represent." (Manufacturing Manager And/Or Engineer; 2013)

"Learn Hands-On...
take apart as many objects as you can and try to figure out how they work, put them back together and get better and faster." (Process Technician; 2013)

Being a Mechanic can be a rewarding career. One gets satisfaction for repairing a person's car because in the end the profession is customer service. Seeing people happy with the repairs that you made makes any mechanics day worthwhile." (Car Mechanic; 2013)

"Supplement Your Education With Business Courses...
Supplement your degree with some business or management classes. Even if you are pursuing a career in a technical field, you will eventually need some of these skills that business and management courses provide." (Maintenance Supervisor; 2013)

"Certifications Are Important...
1: A strong ability to work with your hands is needed. Good dexterity is important when using hand tools, testing equipment, etc. 2: You need to be capable of independent thought as you are usually alone when working at stations and troubleshooting various problems. 3. There is a lot of certifications that are required so you have to be willing to go to a lot of different training schools. 4. Being a "people person" is a must when interacting with all of the different people involved with gas station operations." (Service Technician; 2011)

"Demand Is Down So Be One Of The Best...
There's not a huge demand for Brunswick mechanics today. Most businesses have a maximum of three mechanics. Therefore, references are very important. It helps to know people that are high up on the totem pole. When you go to a Brunswick school to test for your certification, do the absolute best you can possibly do and try to finish in the top of your class. The instructors will be more than happy to act as a reference and the employers will value those types of references over others." (Mechanic; 2011)