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Maintenance Technician Career Guide

What is a maintenance technician?

A maintenance technician is a specialist who provides the necessary repairs and upkeep to various types of machinery, equipment, and infrastructure within a company or organization. They ensure that physical operations run smoothly in various sectors, such as manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, and property management. These professionals offer critical support to a company’s operations by diagnosing and addressing any potential issues that might disrupt the normal functioning of equipment. This role is typically hands-on and task-oriented and often requires a mixed set of skills, including technical, problem-solving, and sometimes physical strength.

Duties and responsibilities

Maintenance technicians typically carry out varied tasks, depending chiefly on the industry and type of equipment used. General duties commonly include servicing, repairing, and maintaining equipment to ensure optimal operation. They might also be required to install new machinery and run routine checks or preventive maintenance on installed equipment. Some roles may involve working with mechanical systems, including heating, electrical, plumbing, and more.

The job can sometimes include handling more specialized machinery or systems for industry-specific equipment. In addition to these technical responsibilities, their typical tasks could include maintaining service records or logs, compliance with safety regulations, communicating with other team members or external contractors, and recommending equipment upgrades or replacements when necessary. Generally, this role requires a proactive attitude to detect and repair equipment issues before they become significant problems that could affect an organization’s productivity or safety.

Work environment

The work environment for a maintenance technician can vary greatly based on the industry. Some technicians work in factories or industrial settings, while others might work in commercial properties like office buildings, schools, or hospitals. They often have a designated workshop or office, but their work involves moving around to different areas where the equipment they oversee is located. The role frequently involves working with machinery, tools, and sometimes in tight or enclosed spaces. Usually, it demands wearing safety equipment while working and adhering to strict safety procedures. It is important to note that some environments may involve exposure to hazardous materials or conditions; hence, the job can sometimes be physically demanding and carry some level of risk.

Typical work hours

Maintenance technicians typically work a full-time schedule of 40 hours per week. However, the nature of their work can sometimes call for more flexible hours. This flexibility could mean night shifts, weekends, or overtime work in response to specific events or emergencies. Due to the critical nature of the maintenance work, some technicians may be on call to manage any urgent repairs or equipment failures that might occur off-hours. This is particularly common in industries where equipment and machinery operate around the clock. Keep in mind that the work hours can be dependent on the specific industry, and the role could be either shift-based or have a more traditional work schedule.

How to become a maintenance technician

This career guide section outlines the process of becoming a maintenance technician. The primary steps involve obtaining relevant education, acquiring hands-on experience, and achieving required certifications.

Step 1: Obtain a high school diploma

The first step is to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. This is a basic educational requirement for this position. Students are advised to focus on industrial arts, math, and shop classes to gain a foundational understanding of the work done in this profession.

Step 2: Consider a vocational or technical program

Enrolling in vocational, trade, or technical school programs can provide specialized training for maintenance technicians. Such programs typically cover HVAC, electrical systems, plumbing, and mechanical systems, which are often beneficial for those considering a career in this field.

Step 3: Secure an entry-level position

The next step is to seek out an entry-level position. This allows individuals to gain practical experience and understanding of what the job entails. Some employers offer on-the-job training to help new hires gain the necessary skills.

Step 4: Gain work experience

After securing an entry-level position, it’s crucial to accumulate job experience. Over time, this exposure will allow technicians to handle various tasks and situations, preparing them for more advanced roles.

Step 5: Get certified

Obtaining certifications can improve employment prospects and demonstrate competence to employers. Certain certifications, like those offered by the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) and the Association for Facilities Engineering, are widely recognized in the maintenance technician industry.

Step 6: Seek advancement opportunities

With experience and certification, they can look for opportunities to advance. These could include supervisory roles or specialized positions within the maintenance field. Continuing education and staying updated on the latest industry standards and technologies can aid in securing these advanced roles.

How much do maintenance technicians make?

Maintenance technician salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Factors such as specialization in a certain type of maintenance, such as HVAC, plumbing, or electrical, and certifications in these areas can highly impact potential earnings.

Highest paying industries

  • Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution – $79,170
  • Natural Gas Distribution – $77,020
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries – $75,110
  • Spectator Sports – $74,490
  • Oil and Gas Extraction – $73,890

Highest paying states

  • Alaska – $66,130
  • Illinois – $61,960
  • District of Columbia – $61,850
  • New Jersey – $61,430
  • Connecticut – $60,900

Browse maintenance technician salary data by market

Types of maintenance technicians

Below, we explore common career types and areas of specialization for maintenance technicians. This section provides a comprehensive guide to these occupations while aiding your understanding and choice.

General maintenance and repair technician

These individuals perform maintenance tasks in residential homes, business establishments, and production facilities. Their duties often involve troubleshooting issues, repairing various systems and machinery, conducting performance checks, and replacing worn-out parts.

Automotive maintenance technician

In the automotive industry, the role of maintenance technicians is crucial. They specialize in repairing and maintaining motor vehicles. This can involve servicing car engines, identifying mechanical faults, performing oil changes and tire rotations, and conducting regular inspections to keep vehicles operating smoothly and safely.

Aircraft maintenance technician

Working in the aviation industry, aircraft maintenance technicians are tasked with keeping aircraft in optimal working condition. They perform regular safety checks, repair structural faults, and maintain engines and other mechanical systems. These technicians must adhere to rigorous safety standards and regulations set by aviation authorities.

Building maintenance technician

This specialization focuses on maintaining structures like offices, apartments, and other types of buildings. These individuals engage in minor repairs, preventive maintenance, plumbing, painting, carpentry, electrical work, and HVAC system maintenance. They might be employed by property management companies or work independently, providing services as needed.

Industrial maintenance technician

In industrial settings, maintenance technicians play a key role in ensuring the ongoing, efficient operation of manufacturing machinery and equipment. They perform routine checks, make necessary repairs, and work proactively to prevent potential equipment failure. This role often requires deeper technical knowledge and a broader array of practical skills.

Top skills for maintenance technicians

This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as a maintenance technician. As a technician in maintenance, you could focus on many specialties that require a unique set of skills and abilities, but here are some common traits you should build.

Problem-solving skills

Addressing issues in machinery or facilities is a crucial part of their role. These issues range from simple fixes to complex problems. The ability to quickly identify the root cause of a problem and devise an efficient solution is needed. Having an eye for detail aids problem-solving as it helps spot anomalies that could lead to potential problems in the future.

Mechanical knowledge

Having a broad understanding of mechanical systems is a significant requirement. This includes both conceptual knowledge of how different types of equipment operate and practical skills to repair and maintain them. Your ability to handle a variety of tools and equipment safely and effectively is also important.

Physical stamina and strength

Involving a lot of hands-on work, the job demands good physical health. It could require constant standing, lifting heavy objects, or operating heavy machinery. Therefore, having decent physical stamina and strength is necessary to carry out the functions of your role.

Technical skills

You may often need to read and interpret technical diagrams and blueprints. In addition, a good knowledge of various diagnostic techniques and the use of testing devices is an essential part of your toolkit to maintain and repair machinery or equipment.

Communication skills

As a member of a larger team, you need good verbal and written communication skills. Reporting issues, conveying information, or coordinating tasks with other team members are all key parts of your routine. Clear and timely communication ensures smooth operations and could help avoid potential mishaps.

Maintenance technician career path options

As a maintenance technician, you can look forward to a prosperous future with various advancement opportunities. Generally, the next logical step would be a shift to a lead technician position, where one can oversee the work of a team of technicians. This role can develop leadership and management skills and open the door for future managerial opportunities.

For individuals who display distinct leadership and managerial abilities, there is the option to become a maintenance manager or supervisor. This role implies full responsibility for the department and can lead to a director of maintenance or facilities role in larger companies. Each advancement brings a higher level of responsibility, superior job security, and increased compensation.

Specializing and branching out

Beyond technical progression, there’s also the chance to specialize. There may be opportunities to gain expertise in specific systems or machinery, enabling you to become a specialist technician. This career path can provide higher earning potential and may include roles such as HVAC technician, machinery diagnostic technician, or programmable logic controllers (PLC) technician.

For those more interested in the operations side of a business, the experience as a maintenance technician can serve as an opening to an operations management career. This career pathway can often require a bachelor’s degree or additional certifications, but the practical experience you’ve gained can be vital.

Freelance and entrepreneurship opportunities

Another viable path is to branch out independently and become a contractor or start your own small-scale maintenance service company. As an entrepreneur, you could offer general maintenance services or focus on a niche market where you have specialized skills. This path requires solid business skills, but it can provide financial rewards and the flexibility of being your own boss.

Continuing education and certification

Growth and advancement in this field often necessitate continuing education and earning industry-specific certifications, such as Certified Maintenance & Reliability Technician (CMRT) or Certified Plant Maintenance Manager (CPMM). Such qualifications can dramatically improve your career prospects by demonstrating a commitment to your profession and mastery in your field.

One of the biggest trends in this profession is huge demand, fueled by the continued growth of industries ranging from manufacturing to commercial property management. As more industries realize the importance of well-maintained equipment and structures in productivity and safety, they increasingly prioritize hiring highly clinical professionals.

Another noticeable trend in this field is the fast-growing interest in sustainable practices and energy-efficient systems. New techniques and tools are constantly emerging, requiring maintenance workers to continually expand their skills and knowledge. Those ready to adapt to such changes might find numerous opportunities waiting for them.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for the role is projected to grow 5 percent through 2031. This is as fast as the average for all occupations. The need for workers to maintain and repair equipment, machinery, and buildings will continue to grow as more businesses continue to operate and expand. It’s expected that most job opportunities will arise from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation or retire.

Maintenance technician career tips

Understand equipment

You should acquire comprehensive knowledge about the equipment you work with. This includes understanding the functioning, common technical issues, and troubleshooting techniques for different types of machinery found in your workplace. This can help you resolve issues efficiently and prevent extended periods of equipment downtime.


Familiarity with the latest technology associated with equipment management is important. Learning about software used in equipment repair and operations, inventory management, and other related programs can boost your effectiveness. It also positions you for advancement as technology continues to evolve and play a daring role in the field.

Adhere to safety regulations

Safety can never be over-emphasized in this field. Always stay up-to-date with safety practices and industry regulations to protect yourself and your team from injuries. Regularly participate in safety training and adhere to safety regulations set forth by your company and industry.

Continuous learning

Embrace the value of consistent professional growth. Keep updating your skills and knowledge about the latest practices, technology, and machinery through:

  • Online courses related to equipment maintenance and technology
  • Workshops or seminars on safety practices in the workplace
  • Certification programs, such as a Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP) certification

Build a professional network

Build relationships with other maintenance technicians and relevant professionals by joining professional networks and associations. These groups offer numerous opportunities for learning, sharing, and support. Here are a few you might consider:

  • The Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE)
  • The Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP)
  • The Institute of Maintenance Management Education (IMME)

Where the maintenance technician jobs are

Top employers

  • U.S. Air Force
  • JLL
  • CBRE
  • GEA Group
  • Sodexo

Top states

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • CareerBuilder
  • ZipRecruiter


What’s important to know about a maintenance technician’s job?

Working in this role involves more than fixing something when it’s broken. You’ll need to inspect machines, mechanical systems, buildings, and structures to identify issues before they become major problems. This means having an understanding of how different systems work and being able to anticipate when parts will need to be replaced.

What hands-on skills should potential maintenance technicians work on developing?

Develop a broad set of repair skills to be as versatile as possible. Learning to handle plumbing, electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems, as well as general mechanical repair work, will increase your value. Additionally, the ability to troubleshoot, analyze, and fix complex equipment is key.

Are there software tools that maintenance technicians need to be familiar with?

Yes, technology is now integral to this field. Maintenance management software is a key tool for logging repairs, organizing schedules, and maintaining records. Familiarity with these systems will make you more efficient, so those familiar with digital tools will have an edge.

Is formal education required to be a maintenance technician?

While some maintenance technicians come to the field with only a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training, many employers prefer employees with a postsecondary degree or certificate in a field like maintenance technology, industrial machinery, or similar fields. It’s important to research job postings and employer requirements in your desired area.

Are there certifications that can be beneficial for a maintenance technician?

While not always mandatory, certifications such as Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP), Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician (CMRT), or related industry-specific certifications can make you a more attractive candidate. These certifications demonstrate a higher level of competency and dedication.

What are the physical demands for a maintenance technician?

This career involves physical labor, which can be strenuous. Technicians often stand for long periods and may need to lift heavy objects. Some tasks might require working in uncomfortable positions or tight spaces. Therefore, physical stamina and strength are necessary for this role.

How important are safety practices for maintenance technicians?

Safety practices are extremely important. Technicians work with tools and machinery that can be dangerous if not used correctly. They also often work with electrical systems or in locations with potential hazards. Understanding and following all safety guidelines and procedures is crucial to preventing injuries.

Why are communication skills important in maintenance work?

Good communication skills allow you to effectively share information about problems and repairs with your colleagues and clients. Clear, concise communication reduces misunderstandings and ensures jobs are completed correctly. Many technicians routinely interact with clients, making good customer service skills important as well.

What’s the work environment like for a maintenance technician?

This can vary depending on the setting. Some technicians work in factories or commercial buildings, while others are employed by property management companies and spend their days in residential settings. Still, others work in specialized facilities like hospitals or schools. Most spend their time in physical activity and may work in places that are noisy, hot, or cold.

Can maintenance technicians specialize in specific areas?

Yes, specialization can make a technician more marketable. For example, some focus specifically on HVAC systems, while others focus on plumbing or electrical systems. Additional training or certification may be required for these specialty areas.