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What's a plant mechanic and how do I be one?

If you’re looking for a job in the construction industry, then you’ve no doubt come across the role of plant mechanic. Plant mechanics are essential to the UK’s £64.7 billion-per-year construction industry, making up an important part of the 2.2 million-strong workforce employed in the sector. But what is it that they do? And how can you become one?

This article is part of Auto Trader Plant’s Getting Into Construction series.
What Is A Plant Mechanic?
Construction companies need people who understand how construction equipment works and how to maintain and repair it. The job of a plant mechanic, therefore, is to ensure that machinery on building sites works correctly and to deal with any issue or defects as they arise.
You can think of the job as comprising the following broad roles:
Defect discovery
In general, it’s better to detect problems with equipment before it breaks than after. Companies, therefore, hire people to seek out potential issues and resolve them before they have to fork out for an expensive repair bill.
When new equipment arrives on site, it’s the responsibility of the plant mechanic to ensure that it all works according to specification. Testing is necessary both for finding faults and ensuring that machinery is safe.
Record keeping
Because plant mechanics inspect equipment and carry out repairs, they need to keep a record of what they find. By keeping a record, a construction firm can do better auditing and collect data on which suppliers offer them the most reliable solutions.
Finally, firms task plant mechanics with inspecting a wide variety of machinery and components. Plant mechanics need to understand things like gearboxes, hydraulics and electrical systems and be able to identify faults.
How Do You Become A Plant Mechanic?
The role of plant mechanic sounds complicated - and to be frank, it is. But the good news is that you often don’t need any formal qualifications to start. Plant mechanics can learn all they need to know on the job.
One of the most popular routes into becoming a plant mechanic if you don’t have any experience is to join an apprentice scheme. Companies want people who are keen and enthusiastic to learn, and in exchange, will provide free training. Apprentices work towards nationally recognised qualifications, such as the NVQ/SVQ levels 2 and 3. Of course, most companies will still insist that you have GCSEs in maths and English. But as long as you have the necessary school qualifications, you stand a good chance of gaining an entry-level position. Plant mechanics just out of training can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 depending on the company and location. Those with more experience can sometimes make more than £40,000 per year, though this is less common.
Plant mechanics have rewarding and varied jobs. As a plant mechanic, you’ll never know just what the day will bring or challenges you’ll need to solve. During your career, you’ll go on courses to learn about the latest technological advances in machinery and build your skillset.

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