Maintenance pay raises rebounded

Paul V. Arnold

Pay to maintenance employees at American manufacturing facilities increased an average of 3.06 percent in 2008, a considerable bump from the paltry 1.31 percent average increase received in 2007 and the best average raise since a 3.09 jump in 2004. This is according to a national compensation research and consulting firm in a data report compiled for Reliable Plant magazine.

Compdata Surveys of Olathe, Kan., collected employee pay and benefit data from 2,164 manufacturing companies this spring. These companies employ 885,616 workers in the United States, including 10,673 with job titles tightly defined for Reliable Plant as "plant maintenance." The titles for the RP report include: plant engineering manager, maintenance manager, senior maintenance supervisor, maintenance supervisor, senior maintenance electrician, senior maintenance mechanic, maintenance electrician and maintenance mechanic.

According to Compdata Surveys, manufacturers budgeted for a 3.36 percent raise to their plant employees this year. Maintenance workers got an average raise that was 91 percent of the budget average, a significant improvement from 2007 when maintenance professionals received just over one-third (37.6 percent) of the manufacturing budget average of 3.48 percent.

This year, maintenance hourly positions received an average raise of 3.28 percent (vs. 2.01 in 2007), while supervisory positions garnered 2.84 (vs. 0.97 in 2008). If the title of plant engineering manager (0.18 raise) is removed from the equation, those in maintenance leadership took home a 3.72 raise this year.

"Organizations are rewarding those with ample years of experience and expertise in the industry," said Theresa Worman, the vice president of business development for Compdata Surveys. "The average increase for supervisory positions (even with plant engineering managers included) has nearly tripled over the last year. While a small amount of this increase can be attributed to differences among organizations that submit survey data from year to year, we have a stable customer base in manufacturing. We attribute slightly higher increases for supervisors to the idea that during hard times or even during cutbacks, it can be more critical than ever for companies to retain their most valuable employees. It's possible that during these hard times, supervisors received higher increases because they are being asked to take on more responsibilities while their employers cut back on other personnel."

Examining Compdata Surveys' previous five years of maintenance data, spanning 2002 through 2007, the eight maintenance job titles averaged an annual raise of 2.45 percent, led by senior maintenance electricians at 3.02.

In Compdata's 2007 survey, the average plant maintenance worker landed a 1.31 raise. The lowest average pay increase for a maintenance job title in that report was 0.21 percent (senior maintenance supervisor). The highest average raise was 2.02 percent (maintenance managers).

In 2008, however, six of the eight maintenance job titles surpassed 3 percent:

  • Maintenance supervisor (4.24)
  • Senior maintenance supervisor (3.78)
  • Senior maintenance mechanic (3.66)
  • Maintenance mechanic (3.44)
  • Maintenance manager (3.15)
  • Maintenance electrician (3.03)

That feat has not been matched in Compdata maintenance pay reports spanning through 2002.

A seventh title, senior maintenance electrician, just missed that 3 percent threshold this year (2.99).

When the new data is examined by plant size, maintenance workers in facilities with 501 to 1,000 total employees had a report-best average pay raise of 3.88 percent. That was followed by maintenance workers at plants with more than 5,000 total employees (3.55), plants with 201 to 500 employees (3.09), plants with 100 or fewer employees (2.96), plants with 1,001 to 5,000 employees (2.49) and plants with 101 to 200 employees (1.73).

By region of the country, workers in the East states received an average pay increase of 4.02 percent in 2008. In comparison, the other regions saw increases of 3.82 (Central), 2.46 (South) and 1.45 (West).

By a combination of demographics, the five maintenance titles that did the best in 2008, in terms of pay raises, were:

  1. Maintenance electrician, East Region, plants with 501 to 1,000 total employees, average pay increase of 17.87 percent

  2. Maintenance electrician, East, up to 100 employees, 15.28%

  3. Senior maintenance electrician, West, more than 5,000 employees, 13.14%

  4. Senior maintenance supervisor, East, more than 5,000 employees, 12.49%

  5. Senior maintenance mechanic, West, 501 to 1,000 employees, 11.49%

The five maintenance titles that fared the worst this year, based on raises, were:

  1. Senior maintenance electrician, East, plants with 101 to 200 employees, average pay decrease of 12.25 percent

  2. Maintenance electrician, East, 101 to 200 employees, -11.09%

  3. Maintenance electrician, West, 101 to 200 employees, -8.88%

  4. Senior maintenance supervisor, West, 1,001 to 5,000 employees, -7.16%

  5. Senior maintenance supervisor, West, more than 5,000 employees, -5.64%

The top average pay rate for each of the eight job titles in 2008 were:

Plant engineering manager: $98,035, East, plants with 1,001 to 5,000 employees

Maintenance manager: $82,187, West, 501 to 1,000 employees

Senior maintenance supervisor: $67,866, East, 501 to 1,000 employees

Maintenance supervisor: $59,015, West, more than 5,000 employees

Senior maintenance electrician: $56,231, West, 501 to 1,000 employees

Senior maintenance mechanic: $49,898, West, 501 to 1,000 employees

Maintenance electrician: $46,068, West, 501 to 1,000 employees

Maintenance mechanic: $41,317, Central, more than 5,000 employees

The lowest average pay rates were:

Plant engineering manager: $79,422, Central, plants with up to 100 employees

Maintenance manager: $70,565, East, up to 100 employees

Senior maintenance supervisor: $57,733, South, 101 to 200 employees

Maintenance supervisor: $47,540, South, up to 100 employees

Senior maintenance electrician: $46,178, Central, 101 to 200 employees

Senior maintenance mechanic: $41,066, East, 101 to 200 employees

Maintenance electrician: $37,268, South, 101 to 200 employees

Maintenance mechanic: $35,581, South, up to 100 employees

Worman said there are several factors to keep an eye on for 2008 and beyond.

Supply costs: "Rising supply costs are affecting manufacturers' bottom lines," she said. "High costs of oil, steel, lumber and copper all factor into reduced raises for workers."

Baby Boomers: "Despite predictions of massive workforce shortages, many workers are expected to continue working after they are eligible for retirement. This is due in part to the high cost of health insurance and longer average life spans. By continuing to work, aging employees are able to increase savings and enjoy reduced health care costs through their employers' insurance plans."

To purchase Compdata Surveys’ all-encompassing 2008 salary and benefit report, or to include your company in the next survey, visit or call 800-300-9570.

Subscribe to Reliable Plant

About the Author