Becoming a Hydraulic Technician: Salary Info & Job Description

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Is a job as a hydraulic technician right for you? Get the truth about the job duties and career prospects to decide if you want to pursue this career field.
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Pros and Cons of a Career As a Hydraulic Technician

Hydraulic technicians are industrial machinery mechanics who primarily work on machinery containing hydraulic technology such as forklifts, cranes and lifts. Check out the pros and cons below for a quick look at this career.

PROS of a Career As a Hydraulic Technician
Employment of industrial machinery mechanics and millwrights is expected to grow over the next decade (17% increase between 2012 and 2022)*
Hydraulic technicians are in demand in a variety of industries*
Job seekers with a wide range of skills are expected to have good job prospects*
An associate degree is often sufficient for an entry-level job*

CONS of a Career As a Hydraulic Technician
Injuries on the job are common*
Working overtime is common*
Technicians may be on call on weekends and during holidays*
Training on the job can last for as long as a year*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description

Hydraulic technicians care for the maintenance, installation and repair of machinery with hydraulic technology. They are expected to keep hydraulic machinery in good working order and correct smaller problems before they become major issues. Technicians may use computers or other techniques to detect these problems. Technicians also perform preventative maintenance to anticipate issues before they occur.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 17% increase in jobs for industrial machinery mechanics and millwrights between 2012 and 2022. The BLS notes that more sophisticated machinery will demand an influx of skilled technicians to oversee installation, repair and maintenance and confirms that job candidates with a broad background in a few technical fields will have the best job prospects overall. In May of 2014, the agency determined that industrial machinery mechanics earned a median annual salary of $48,630.

What Are the Requirements?

Industrial machinery mechanics are typically trained in a vocational school program or an associate degree program at a community college. Most mechanics, including hydraulic technicians, receive the majority of their training on the job. Although employers often seek specialized hydraulic technicians, they also prefer employees that have a broad background encompassing different fields, such as electricity, computers and electronics. Other important skills include sharp technical and mechanical, manual dexterity, trouble-shooting, and problem-solving.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Industrial companies that are interested in hiring a hydraulic technician are looking for candidates with superb mechanical skills and professional experience. These employers are also often looking for technicians who have experience in their specific industry. The following are just a few examples of job postings from April 2012:

  • A Texas oilfield equipment company is looking for a hydraulic technician with a bachelor's degree and at least three years of experience in the oil industry. The successful candidate will have experience with troubleshooting, testing and mechanical assembly.
  • A Los Angeles-based company is seeking a hydraulic technician to build power units and test stands. The technician will also troubleshoot and repair components in hydraulic systems. The company prefers a candidate that can read blueprints and has at least two years of professional experience.
  • A fluid power distribution company in St. Louis is seeking a hydraulic technician with excellent troubleshooting skills and sharp mechanical skills. The preferred candidate will be able to work on their feet for most of the workday, be self-motivated and organized with at least one year of professional experience.

How to Stand Out in the Field

In addition to sharp technical training and an ability to troubleshoot and solve problems, companies are often in search of hydraulic technicians with a versatile background and skill set. You can stand out amongst other job candidates if you have training in computer programming, welding, blueprint reading or mathematics in addition to your mechanical training. The BLS emphasizes that job candidates with a background in a variety of skills will have the best job prospects.

Career Alternatives

If you believe a career as a hydraulic technician is not a great fit for you, there are some other career options you may want to look into.

Steamfitter

Steamfitters install and maintain pipes and systems that carry steam and gas in and out of businesses, homes and other types of buildings. The BLS projected a 26% increase in job opportunities for steamfitters, plumbers and pipefitters between 2010 and 2020. Steamfitters fall under the same category with plumbers and pipefitters and had a reported median annual wage of around $48,000 in May 2011.

Electronics Installer

Electronics installers repair, install and maintain electronic equipment and work in a variety of fields, including transportation, utilities and telecommunications. Installers also troubleshoot, repair and replace faulty equipment. The BLS determined that electrical and electronics installers and repairers, including transportation equipment, earned a median annual salary of $50,000 in May 2011. The BLS also predicted that this occupation will experience a 3% growth in jobs between 2010 and 2020.

Millwright

Millwrights assemble and dismantle large equipment and machinery used at construction sites, power plants and in factories. In order to enter the field, most millwrights complete a 4-year apprenticeship. The BLS projected a 5% decline in millwright jobs between 2010 and 2020. However, job prospects were expected to be good for candidates with a broad background in machine maintenance. The BLS reported that millwrights earned a median annual salary of $49,000 in May 2011.

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