2015 Salary Survey: Wages Holding Steady as Lubrication Workforce Gets Younger

The latest results from Machinery Lubrication’s annual salary survey reveal some interesting insights into the lubrication industry. The online survey, which polled lubrication professionals living in the United States, indicates that compensation rates have remained steady over the past 12 months, with only a slight decline of 1 percent. The average salary in 2015 was $78,112. The highest reported income was $225,000, while the lowest was $24,000. Benefits such as health insurance, 401(k) and profit sharing were also static over previous years. Although fewer professionals received bonuses in 2015, raises were quite prevalent, as nearly three-fourths of all respondents reported an increase. However, most saw their salaries rise by just 1 to 5 percent.


The average age of survey respondents dropped to 48, which marked the lowest number in five years. Workers in their 30s and 60s reported the highest salaries, while those in their 20s predictably had the lowest incomes. The number of years that lubrication professionals have worked for their current employer also declined from an average of 15 years in 2014 to 12 in 2015. However, this did not seem to affect compensation rates, as those respondents with less than five years of experience on the job earned just as much if not more than their colleagues with longer tenures.


Lubrication professionals appear to be acquiring more education, as for the first time in five years, survey respondents with bachelor’s degrees were in the majority. This additional education also seems to be influencing salary rates. Workers with a bachelor’s degree earned $20,000 a year more on average than those with just a high-school diploma and those who have some college credits but no degree. In addition, respondents with at least one professional certification earned almost 10 percent more per year. The certifications that survey participants most often listed as being paid more for were the International Council for Machinery Lubrication’s Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA) Level I, II and III certifications as well as the Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) Level I and II certifications.



Geography was another critical component in respondents’ compensation rates. While the Midwest recorded the most responses, it was the Southwest region that reported the highest average salary at more than $88,000 annually, which was nearly $15,000 a year more on average than their colleagues in the Midwest and Northeast. Workers in the Northeast registered the lowest average salary at just more than $72,000 per year.


Survey participants included workers from several large companies such as International Paper, Weyerhaeuser, Conagra, Alcoa, Holcim, Agrium and BP. Lubrication professionals in these larger companies (with more than 100 employees) earned nearly 10 percent more than their counterparts in smaller organizations.

Maintenance/reliability manager was the most common job title among survey respondents, followed by engineer, lubrication technician, mechanic and reliability engineer. Maintenance managers and reliability engineers earned among the highest salaries on average at nearly $100,000, while mechanics and lubrication technicians reported much less at only $85,000 and $53,500, respectively.



Almost two-thirds of survey participants expect their salary to increase in the coming year, and 80 percent believe their job is secure. However, most do not expect their companies to add lubrication-related jobs in 2016, although they also do not anticipate any lubrication jobs being lost.

When asked what changes they would like to see at their plant in the coming year, many respondents cited newer equipment, better maintenance practices and more technical training for plant personnel.

“We have management buy-in, but if the mechanics don’t believe in the process, the tasks will not be completed correctly,” wrote one respondent.

Manpower reductions, cutbacks and a lack of leadership were the greatest concerns among survey participants.

“As we lose people, we lose product knowledge, which may ultimately end up in the hands of our competitors,” noted another respondent.

Job satisfaction levels were lower in 2015, with more than one-third of lubrication professionals saying they are not fairly compensated. Lack of management support, lack of recognition, and hours and workload were the things respondents disliked most about their jobs, while challenge and stimulation, work environment/culture, and salary and benefits were the factors most contributing to job satisfaction.

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