What Does a Mechanical Fitter Do and How to Become One
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 20 January 2023
Published 4 October 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If you enjoy working with your hands and operating heavy tools, then a job as a mechanical fitter may interest you. Mechanical fitters are craftspeople with specialities in metal, and they can work in various construction environments. Learning about the responsibilities and salary insights of a mechanical fitter can help you decide if the career is ideal for you. In this article, we explain what does a mechanical fitter do, outline the steps for fulfilling the role and describe the soft and technical skills the profession may require.
What does a mechanical fitter do?
A mechanical fitter is a tradesperson who builds, repairs and installs components of heavy machinery. Often participating in the production and manufacturing processes, mechanical fitters work with metal to boost the functions of construction and welding equipment. Their professional environment consists of factories, nuclear plants and mining sites. Mechanical fitters often work by themselves, where their direct supervisors evaluate performance during their shifts, and they can take part in group assignments to complete special projects. Their typical responsibilities may include:
Reviewing the dimensions from diagrams, blueprints and sketches
Determining an order of steps for creating the fabricated components
Using grinding and sawing tools to manipulate metal into the desired shapes
Attaching the parts to the machines
Conducting inspections to ensure tools and machines work properly
Identifying malfunctioning equipment and implementing plans to fix them
Performing maintenance, such as cleaning and refastening screws
Listing building activities and the repairing of tools on work records
Adhering to the employer and federal guidelines when handling heavy machinery
Documenting findings of safety audits
Skills of a mechanical fitter
The following skills may apply to the profession of a mechanical fitter:
Attention to detail
Mechanical fitters use attention to detail when assembling the fabricated parts. They concentrate on the exact dimensions on the diagram to shape the metal properly, and they focus on the sounds of the equipment to ensure it runs as intended. Detail orientation also allows them to check their work atmosphere thoroughly to feel confident that it meets federal and organisational guidelines for safety.
Manual dexterity refers to the simultaneous coordination of eyes and hands, allowing mechanical fitters to operate tools safely and proficiently. Their controlled movements can manipulate the saws and grinders and produce the shapes they want to add to the machines. When installing the parts, professionals use their motor skills to tighten or loosen the components so that it fits correctly inside the equipment. Manual dexterity can also be useful for other responsibilities, such as cleaning the pieces of the machines and reinstalling them to boost their functioning.
The role of a mechanical fitter can be physically demanding, which is why fitness and stamina can be important. Employees spend most of their shifts using their hands and arms to transport construction equipment and hold it steady to create metal components. They also frequently bend to inspect machines and install the fabricated parts. With physical fitness, mechanical fitters can stand on their feet for extended periods and fulfil their job tasks effectively. They possess the strength to lift heavy materials across their workspaces and hold grinding tools long enough to separate the shapes they need.
Self-sufficient mechanical fitters can work independently and remain productive in the workplace. When they receive new assignments, they can estimate how long each task may take, which enables them to manage their time well and finish the project promptly. The skill also empowers them to perform effectively, with little supervision from their managers.
They're capable of structuring their workdays to prioritise urgent tasks, and they can review their work to ensure it meets the employer's standards. For example, if the project is to create a metal part to modify a forklift's operations, then the mechanical fitter can strategise how much time to devote to assembling, experimenting and installing the product.
Commitment to safety
Knowledge of safety protocols empowers mechanical fitters to execute their job responsibilities while protecting themselves and their coworkers. Their awareness of the differences between functioning and malfunctioning products helps them recognise when a repair is necessary for heavy machines. They understand how to wear protective gear properly, such as goggles, aprons and noise-cancelling headphones. When performing safety audits, mechanical fitters may combine detail orientation and critical thinking to acknowledge when a professional environment is safe. The commitment to safety can also allow them to communicate proper conduct to new or lower-level employees.
How to become a mechanical fitter
Your career path to fulfilling the role of a mechanical fitter may consist of the following steps:
1. Enrol in an apprenticeship
An apprenticeship is the minimum training requirement for mechanical fitter positions. You can learn the fundamentals of engineering, including how to operate heavy machinery, such as sawing and welding tools. The curriculum may also train you on the purpose of the equipment, which can help you identify which piece to use to handle certain tasks in the fields. Apprenticeships often take four years to complete. When you're finished, you can receive Certificate III in Engineering, which authorises you to work in a construction environment.
2. Pursue certifications
Certifications may be requirements for mechanical fitter roles that are more specialised, such as operating forklifts or repairing machines from high places. Obtaining endorsements can expose you to more employment opportunities in the industry. You can also expand on your technical skill set, which can prepare you more for your desired career.
3. Undergo hands-on training
An alternative path to becoming a mechanical fitter is to work as a trainee at an entry-level position in the industry. You can observe the work styles of experienced professionals and receive direction on how to manage the trade. Traineeships may be ideal for aspiring mechanical fitters who have already completed school and are entering the industry from another field.
4. Apply for open positions
Once you're eligible for the profession, you can start searching for open positions in your area. Consider consulting your professional network, such as former classmates, instructors and friends, for insight into companies who may be hiring for your coveted position. It may be helpful to search for vacancies on job profiles, and you check the website of organisations where you want to work. Remember to update your resume with your apprenticeship and work experience to show you're qualified.
Salary of a mechanical fitter
The average salary of a mechanical fitter is $90,580 per year. Before you enter the automotive industry for the first time, it may be beneficial to anticipate your annual income based on your professional characteristics. You can identify ways to boost your earning potential to fit your financial needs. Here are factors that can influence how much money you make as a mechanical fitter:
Years of experience
Your earning potential may increase the longer you work as a mechanical fitter. You can continue strengthening your technical skills. When you apply for jobs or request a promotion or raise, employers can feel confident in the expertise that you've demonstrated and may offer higher salaries. For example, an employee who has worked in the industry for 20 years may earn more money than they did immediately after finishing their apprenticeship. During your job search, contemplate ways to communicate your work experience to the hiring manager so you can justify receiving more substantial pay.
Another influential factor in your income is your work credentials, which refer to your licenses and training. You can showcase your qualifications to differentiate yourself from other candidates and negotiate a higher salary with the employer. For example, a candidate with a bachelor's degree in engineering and an apprenticeship may have a higher earning potential than a peer with the standard training. It may also be beneficial to pursue additional licenses to advance your career more quickly. You can become certified in operating several types of heavy machinery, showing employers that you have unique expertise.
Employers may offer different salaries depending on their size and organisational budget. If you're applying for mechanical fitter positions across several fields, such as mining and the military, then be mindful that your earning potential may fluctuate. The environment where you want to work can influence your responsibilities and your earnings. For example, professionals who work in factories may earn more money than their colleagues who work in nuclear plants. Also, those that produce machinery for government agencies may have higher incomes than employees who fulfil the role in workshops.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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