Thursday, September 13, 2012

Green Job Series: Careers in Recycling—Mechanics, Technicians, and Machinery Maintenance Workers

Recycling operations rely on various kinds of mechanics, technicians, and machinery maintenance workers to inspect and repair the automated equipment in MRFs (Materials Recovery Facility) and to maintain recycling trucks. This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series describes the jobs of mechanics, technicians, and machinery maintenance workers.

Mechanics, Technicians, and Machinery Maintenance Workers

Getting recyclables from waste bins to manufacturers requires different types of workers. Drivers collect the recyclables and transport them to a MRF, at which mechanics, technicians, and machinery maintenance workers work.

Job Duties

Mechanics and technicians monitor and operate the machines in MRFs, including balers (compactors) that shape the recyclables into a form to simplify shipping to and use by manufacturers. They also regularly inspect the machinery and diagnose and repair any problems with the electrical or hydraulic systems of the compactors. They record their work in detailed logs.

Other mechanics, technicians, and maintenance workers are needed to repair and maintain the recycling trucks. They run inspections and diagnostic tests and perform preventative maintenance and vehicular repairs. Truck technicians also document vehicular part usage and repair times. They may be required to make emergency roadside calls if recycling trucks experience problems while out on collection.

Education and Training

Whether they work on machinery or recycling trucks, mechanics and technicians should have at least a high school education or a G.E.D. They should also have at least a year of formal education and experience performing repairs on machines or vehicles. Workers can learn these technical skills through vocational training programs or apprenticeships. While mechanics used to specialize in one area, many now have knowledge of multiple disciplines, including electricity, electronics, hydraulics, and computer programming. Machinery maintenance workers usually receive on-the-job training that lasts for a few months or a year.

Mechanics and technicians are required to pass drug tests and background checks. They should have clean driving records and need to be able to move equipment that weighs up to 50 pounds.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data specific to mechanics, technicians, and machinery maintenance workers at MRFs. However, these workers are included in the occupations industrial mechanics; maintenance workers, machinery; and bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists. The table below shows wages for these occupations in the remediation and other waste management services industry group. The wage is the median annual wage for the entire United States. Wages vary by employer and location.

Occupation Median annual wage
Industrial machinery mechanics $47,280
Maintenance workers, machinery $41,870
Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists $38,780

For more detailed information on mechanics, technicians, and machinery maintenance workers in the recycling industry, follow the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

Next week’s recycling industry series installment: Material Recovery Facility Managers

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