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What is a Mechanical Contractor and What Do They Do?

Mechanical contractors can be found in nearly every industry. While their job descriptions vary depending on the sector they are in, they work toward the same goal: making changes and improvements to mechanical systems.

Image via Flickr by Aydun

What is a Mechanical Contractor?

A mechanical contractor is someone that oversees a variety of different processes within a project that deals with machines or technology of some kind. Mechanical contractors are in charge of anything with mechanical parts, including the production of items and installation of mechanical and automated systems. Once installed, a mechanical contractor can also take care of maintenance and repair.

When you think about the core elements of what a mechanical contractor does, it is to problem solve and redesign mechanical systems that aren't doing their jobs properly.

While your first thought might be that a mechanical contractor works on construction and building sites, there are many more opportunities for them outside of working on buildings. They can also work in automotive, food processing, pharmaceuticals, or even places like NASA. When you are a mechanical contractor, there are lots of different opportunities to specialize in a variety of different sectors.

What Is the Difference Between a Mechanical Contractor and a Mechanical Engineer?

While both mechanical contractors and mechanical engineers work on different mechanical systems, there is a difference between the two careers. A mechanical engineer designs a system. The engineer goes through the process of manufacturing a product that can be used by the public. Once that system is manufactured, the mechanical engineer's job is done, and the mechanical contractor steps in.

The mechanical contractor is someone who handles the operation of different components and devices that are designed by the mechanical engineer. If the product that the mechanical engineer designed isn't working, a mechanical contractor will fix the problem. The mechanical engineer does not deal with their product again.

What Does a Mechanical Contractor Do?

A mechanical contractor is a jack-of-all-trades. They can work on a wide variety of different projects in many different trades. If there are mechanical parts, a mechanical contractor can make sure that everything is installed and working correctly. This includes large scale plumbing, HVAC, electrical, piping, ductwork, and gas work, just to name a few of the trades they work in. 

Mechanical contractors work in a supervisory role where they oversee projects and work with other mechanical workers to make sure that the projects run smoothly. They may hire subcontractors who are specialists in their fields to help with projects they are working on.

What Are Some Skills a Mechanical Contractor Needs?

Many skills are required for contractors to do their jobs. One important skill that they need is advanced math skills like statistics and calculus. They must also have strong problem-solving skills and the ability to be creative when coming up with solutions. As leaders, mechanical contractors need strong communication skills that allow them to listen, collaborate, and give clear and concise directions to the contractors they are working with.

What Are Some Job Opportunities for a Mechanical Contractor?

Mechanical contractors can work in almost any industry. There are jobs for mechanical contractors in aircraft mechanics, structural mechanics, or sheet metal mechanics. Many mechanical contractors choose to be field service technicians, where they move between different job sites. Another job opportunity that is available for mechanical contractors is becoming a general contractor. General contracting allows them to do a wide range of jobs within their role as a contractor. 

With new 3D technology becoming available, there are now jobs for mechanical contractors who work with this new printing technology. 

HVAC technicians, like Dahme Mechanical Industries, work with air conditioning and heating systems. HVAC technicians work with a variety of systems that are continually changing as standards to make buildings become more energy-efficient continue to evolve. 

Ultimately, any company or job that uses mechanical parts can have a mechanical contractor working with them. 

How Do You Become a Mechanical Contractor?

Mechanical contractors need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Once you have your degree, you can get a master's degree in your chosen field. Once you have your degree, you will need to obtain a license. To obtain a license, you will need to take a written and practical exam proving that you are qualified to be a mechanical contractor. 

 An HVAC technician does not need an engineering degree, but they do need an HVAC license. 

In addition to education, it is crucial to have on-the-job experience. It's hard to help problem-solve when you haven't done the work yourself to know how each of the systems you are working with operates.

Licensing in Illinois

In order to be a mechanical contractor in Illinois, you need a license. The state does not have a specific licensing, but as a mechanical contractor, you are required to hold an HVAC license. This license not only lets you do work as a mechanical contractor, but it also enables you to hire technicians. In Illinois, licenses for mechanical contractors are issued at the local level in counties and cities. Be sure to check the specific regulations of the city and county you are working in before starting a project.

To acquire a license, you need to submit an application fee, surety bond, general liability insurance, licensed plumber information, business entity information, and job experience. You may also have to pass a contractor exam once you are approved for the license. Once you pass the qualifying exam, your license is issued.  It is also important to note that licenses need to be renewed annually, and there are penalties if you don't have a valid license. 

Mechanical contractors are very talented individuals who have extensive knowledge in a wide range of jobs. Dahme Mechanical Industries work in residential, commercial, and industrial sites as they help with plumbing, pipefitting, HVAC, and emergency services.  Residential services that they provide include plumbing, heating, and air services. Do you have a job for a mechanical contractor? Feel free to contact Dahme Mechanical Industries with any questions you have about your HVAC and plumbing projects.