Hydraulic technicians, also known as hydraulic mechanics, work in industrial settings where they install, repair and maintain hydraulic equipment and machinery, such as lifts, cranes and forklifts. They ensure hydraulic systems function properly in recommended environments. Individuals with little formal training and superb technical skills may find this profession ideal for them. Top employers of hydraulic technicians include manufacturing plants, construction firms and commercial warehouses.
Doing the Work
A combination of technical and trouble-shooting skills is crucial to being a competent hydraulic technician. For example, when a crane stops working, the technician needs these skills to observe the equipment, operate diagnostic equipment and review technical manuals to identify the problem. Hydraulic technicians also need mechanical skills and a steady hand-eye coordination to perform repairs successfully.
Employers hire hydraulic technicians to spot and fix minor mechanical issues before they develop into major and costly repairs. To prevent this, hydraulic technicians regularly conduct maintenance operations on all hydraulic equipment in the workplace. This often involves interviewing workers who usually interact with the equipment to determine their views on the general functioning of the equipment. Common maintenance activities of hydraulic systems include refilling or changing engine fluids, replacing filters and other hydraulic components, and adjusting system operating temperatures.
When a company wants to purchase hydraulic equipment, it can rely on the in-house hydraulic technicians to research the market and identify products and suppliers in offering the best value and performance. During installation of hydraulic systems, especially in industrial plants, hydraulic technicians are usually part of a larger installation team. They help engineers set up test units for performing equipment tests, record tests procedures and results, and ensure the project follows established guidelines.
Earning an associate degree in hydraulic engineering or technology is enough to find a hydraulic technician’s job. In addition, employers provide on-the-job training programs to help beginning technicians develop essential job skills. Those looking to improve their competence level and prospects of becoming hydraulic engineers can obtain professional certifications from the Fluid Power Society and pursue bachelor’s degrees in hydraulic engineering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 19 percent job growth for all industrial machinery mechanics from 2012 to 2022, quicker than the estimated 11 percent for all careers. In 2014, hydraulic technicians earned an average salary of $42,000, according to Simply Hired, an occupational resources website.