What Is a Mechanical Contractor?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 11, 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.

There are many professions that contribute to the design and development of new buildings and products. One type of professional who typically works on construction and mechanical projects is a mechanical contractor. You might enjoy working as a mechanical contractor if you have a background in mechanics and excellent leadership skills. In this article, we define what a mechanical contractor is and explore what they do, including common job duties and key skills they might need.

Related: 12 Careers in Construction (With Salaries and Duties)

What is a mechanical contractor?

A mechanical contractor is a contractor who specializes in overseeing the completion of projects with mechanical elements. This can include construction projects, the development of new mechanical products and the installation of systems and devices in residential and commercial buildings. Mechanical contractors typically work closely with mechanical engineers to ensure that any project involving mechanical devices is completed accurately and safely. They might also collaborate with technicians, construction workers and specialists to manage installations and construction tasks.

Most mechanical contractors work full-time hours, and their work environments can vary depending on the projects they work on. For example, a mechanical contractor who primarily takes on manufacturing projects might work in a warehouse or manufacturing plant, while a mechanical contractor who specializes in construction might work on construction and building sites.

Related: Contractors: Definition and Different Types

What does a mechanical contractor do?

A mechanical contractor can have many different responsibilities that all contribute to overseeing the completion of mechanical projects. Mechanical contractors can design parts for mechanical devices that technicians can implement in their development, create plans for mechanical projects based on budgets and deadlines and delegate tasks to other team members during projects. A mechanical contractor can also take part in the installation of various systems in residential and commercial buildings that use mechanical elements. Here is a little more information about the systems mechanical contractors frequently work on:

  • Electrical systems: An electrical system is a network of wiring that supplies power to a building by distributing it across channels to power devices like light fixtures, electrical outlets and appliances.

  • Plumbing systems: Plumbing systems refer to elements of a building that manage its water supply, such as pipes, fittings, tanks and appliances that use water, including sink faucets, toilets and bathubs.

  • HVAC systems: An HVAC system includes the vents and other equipment that control the airflow in a building for purposes like ventilation, heating and air conditioning.

  • Refrigeration systems: Refrigeration systems help to cool areas of a building or substances in storage by transferring heat away from certain spaces. They most often appear in refrigerators and places that need to keep entire rooms at low temperatures, such as a florist or butcher's shop.

Related: How To Become a Contractor

Salary and job outlook for mechanical contractors

While Indeed does not have salary information specifically for mechanical contractors, they show that the national average salary for contractors in the United States is currently $45,585 per year. Because the job of a mechanical contractor qualifies as a specialized position, many mechanical contractors find opportunities to earn higher salaries depending on their levels of expertise. Contractors can also receive additional benefits outside of their salaries, such as paid sick time, commuter assistance and a flexible schedule.

In terms of job outlook, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer data about mechanical contractors. However, they provide information for people employed as mechanical engineers, which is a closely related profession to mechanical contractors. The Bureau states that employment of mechanical engineers could increase by 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is an average rate of growth. According to the Bureau, this could be due to the growing number of engineering and construction projects that arise each year, as well as developments in manufacturing industries.

Skills for mechanical contractors

A mechanical contractor can benefit from having a strong set of specialized skills in mechanics, such as knowledge of statistics and mathematics. These skills can inform their work by giving them the necessary expertise to design, build and install mechanical devices and systems. Mechanical contractors might also need excellent leadership and project management skills, as they typically oversee the entire process of a mechanical project's completion.

Due to their position as leaders, it can be helpful for mechanical contractors to have strong communication skills as well to ensure they remain informed during each stage of a project and feel confident in giving instructions and delegating tasks to their team members. Here are a few more skills that a mechanical contractor might need:

  • Attention to detail: Having a strong attention to detail can ensure a mechanical contractor is aware of each step in every stage of a project so they can offer help wherever it might be needed.

  • Time management: Managing time effectively can allow mechanical contractors to keep the projects they oversee on schedule to be completed by their deadlines.

  • Problem-solving: Mechanical contractors might have to respond to unforeseen circumstances on a work site, so problem-solving skills can give them the ability to respond quickly and find creative solutions.

  • Critical thinking: As working with mechanical devices can involve analyzing complex data and using technical processes, critical thinking skills can prepare a mechanical contractor to engage in the specifc job duties their job requires.

Related: Mechanic Skills: Definition and Examples

Education needed to become a mechanical contractor

To become a mechanical contractor, candidates first need to earn a bachelor's degree. Most aspiring mechanical contractors major in mechanical engineering or a closely related subject so they receive extensive training in mechanical concepts and techniques. Some candidates also choose to pursue a master's degree in their specialty once they finish their undergraduate degree, as it can qualify them for higher-level jobs. After completing any educational requirements, mechanical contractors need to obtain a license to work in the field.

As many states have different licensing requirements for mechanical contractors, it can be helpful to reach out to your state government to determine which licenses you might need before you start working as a mechanical contractor.

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