Entering the workforce, changing jobs, or are simply curious, PROfiles series is the place to learn more about the career opportunities in the pump industry and the skills needed to be successful.
Hi, I’m a Pump Mechanic. What do I do?
About me: As a pump mechanic I work with pumps used in systems like wastewater lift stations, refineries, power plants, and water treatment facilities. I inspect, repair, and perform routine maintenance on pumps. I also work on the motors and couplings used to drive the pump and ancillary components and troubleshoot monitoring systems to ensure the pump is installed and working properly. My cousin, who works for the pump manufacturer, is an assembly technician. Assembly technicians assemble the new or rebuild retrofit pumps, adding lubricant to bearings, coupling the motor (or engine) to the pump, performing alignment, and securing it to a base plate, if applicable, to place the pump in complete working order before sending it to the testing or shipping department. From time to time, I work with the engineering department when things just don’t fit correctly, and I help make the required adjustments.
What I’m good at: As a pump mechanic, I’m very good at working with my hands, which helps me build or dismantle the pump during maintenance. A lot of times this means carefully removing parts, documenting their condition, and taking measurements to determine what should be replaced. I have to be good at following manuals and procedures that help me properly repair, assemble and reinstall the pumps. I have keen eye for items that don’t fit right, which allows me to identify and correct small issues during routine maintenance checks or repairs that might turn into big problems if not addressed.
What I like: I like problem solving and following processes. Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed working with my hands, so this job is perfect for me. My diagnostic skills also come in very handy because I sometimes get to troubleshoot what’s wrong with a pump when it’s not working properly. I love figuring this stuff out. Mostly, because I like tinkering and working with tools. In addition, this job allows me to keep important, state-of-the-art equipment working optimally, which is personally and professionally rewarding. I’m also a people person, and this helps a lot because I work in a team environment, supporting others doing similar work, and reporting to managers in the department to identify what critical parts we need from vendors so that we can keep our critical machinery operating.
What I’m looking for: As I said before, as a pump mechanic, I’m looking to keep mechanical equipment used in pumping systems up and running. Quality of assembly and installation is important to me because our daily lives rely on the transfer of liquids to control waste, treat water, generate electricity, and so much more.
My education: While I don’t have an engineering degree, I’ve had a couple of apprenticeships that really trained me well. There are several qualifications necessary to become a pump mechanic. First, I must have my high school diploma, some of my buddies earned a GED certificate instead, and that’s fine too. Next, I have to have some experience in mechanics. Some of my colleagues gained experience in an industrial field and that makes for a sound background as well. Understanding mechanics is important—I know about transmissions, hydraulics, pumps, valves, welding, and engines.
Where I work: I work for the local water municipality where I spend a lot of time assembling parts and systems, this is why I’m called a pump mechanic. But as I said, my cousin the assembly technician works for the pump manufacturer. The opportunities to find a job are numerous in almost any part of the country. The best state in terms of salary is Hawaii, but you might spend a little more on food and electricity there. I recommend you check out job listings at pump manufacturers, and your local municipality.
How much I make: As a pump mechanic I earn $32,000 right now and I started recently, but my ceiling is much higher. That is, I’m told I can make up to about $76,000, and most pump mechanics make an average of about $50,000 per year. Count on making more as you gain experience with more types of pumps and associated equipment. Salaries also vary depending on where I live and work. Where the standard of living is higher, I’ll make more, where it’s lower, my salary is lower. Some states, because of need, pay more than others.