What Does a Maintenance Technician Do?
A maintenance technician oversees the upkeep of facilities by performing proactive asset maintenance, reactive maintenance, and emergency maintenance. The responsibilities of maintenance technicians vary depending on an organization’s specific industry, size, and budget. Those working for smaller facilities—churches, schools, hotels—are often considered to be “jacks of all trades,” and perform all types of general maintenance.
Alternatively, workers employed by larger companies—manufacturing plants, industrial facilities, oil and gas facilities—often specialize in performing niche tasks. However, the average daily work schedule includes:
- Reviewing Work Orders: They start by reviewing work orders to determine which activities are planned or scheduled for the day. Work orders are sometimes created using a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), and automatically assigned to available workers, and sometimes they are written on paper. Work orders are often scheduled in advance to reduce travel and planning time.
- Prioritizing Workloads: Maintenance tasks are usually performed with predetermined specifications and procedures in mind. Additionally, technicians prioritize workloads depending on how critical work orders are to operations.
- Documenting Completed Tasks: They also must complete maintenance checklists. Any additional work or problems should be noted in the work order with attached photos to provide additional clarity whenever possible. Workers also should update inventories so necessary replacement parts can be ordered.
Due to the fairly unpredictable nature of machinery, technicians may find themselves veering from their assigned schedules fairly often. Any scheduled tasks that aren’t completed by the end of the day are reported to maintenance managers for rescheduling or are left “open” in the organization’s CMMS platform, spreadsheet, or whiteboard system. Finally, workers are responsible for preventing potential safety hazards from occurring by monitoring equipment and following standard operating procedures and best practices.
Maintenance Technician Skills
Organizations rely on maintenance technicians to preserve a facility’s good condition and functionality. The ideal candidate is professional with a practical approach to problem-solving and holds the following skills:
- Basic understanding of utility systems such as electrical, gas, and water, among others.
- General knowledge of maintenance methods and processes.
- Ability to work with common appliances, devices, and tools.
- Strong problem-solving abilities.
- Good health and physical condition to perform strenuous tasks.
- Demonstrated ability to follow manufacturer specifications.
- Ability to work under minimal supervision.
- Comprehension of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
- Ability to prioritize work to promote safe environments.
Types of Maintenance Technicians
Every organization, regardless of its size, needs someone to keep its buildings, machinery, and equipment in good working order. In most cases, engaging a contractor to carry out daily maintenance activities is not cost-effective.
It would also be difficult to respond to emergency maintenance needs while trying to negotiate costs or wait for a contractor to travel to facility locations. For these reasons, most organizations employ in-house workers to reduce the likelihood of prolonged breakdowns. However, special assets sometimes require different types of technicians, including:
- Plant Maintenance Technicians: This category of workers monitors and maintains plant systems and assets. These include bearings, shafts, pulleys, electrical motors, conveyor belts, and balers among other equipment used in production.
- Building Maintenance Technicians: These professionals conduct inspections on buildings and perform routine tasks. Building maintenance technicians should have a detailed understanding of the property and maintain an inventory of maintenance supplies and tools.
- Facilities Maintenance Technicians: Facilities workers perform basic engineering and tasks related to fire, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems. They also carry out periodic inspections on building infrastructure and equipment.
- Public Works Maintenance Technicians: This category of workers is usually employed by government authorities such as municipalities. They perform maintenance activities like repairing city sidewalks and streets. They also perform regular inspections of government fleets to ensure safety and efficiency.
Job Outlook for Maintenance Technicians
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.5 million maintenance technicians were employed in the United States in 2019. Most of these workers can be found in the manufacturing, health care, educational services, real estate, and government sectors.
The industry is expected to grow 4 percent over the next decade due to an increased demand for home remodeling and maintenance services as homeownership grows. The average salary for a maintenance technician in the United States is $39,307, according to ZipRecruiter.
Certifications and Training
Pursuing a career as a maintenance technician requires both entry-level experience and a high-school diploma. However, workers typically receive on-the-job training in areas such as basic building maintenance, electrical systems, door and window installation, and plumbing installation.
Due to the increasing prevalence of Industry 4.0 technology, a large number of maintenance job descriptions are expected to shift over the next decade. The more affordable predictive maintenance technologies become, the more frequently they will be adopted by maintenance departments.
Expect advanced certification and training programs to become more common as the field shifts toward digital data collection, diagnostic analysis, and Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) usage. The most popular certifications available for individuals wanting to advance their careers include:
- Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician (CMRT): Offered by the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP), the CMRT certification is awarded to maintenance technicians with demonstrated knowledge and skills in preventive, predictive, and corrective maintenance.
- Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT): The CAMT certification is offered by the National Apartment Association (NAA). The program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It’s awarded to technicians who’ve specialized in electrical and mechanical maintenance.
Additionally, the International Maintenance Institute (IMI) offers several training and certification programs that target maintenance technicians. Depending on the type of work conducted, maintenance technicians may be required to secure a license in some states.
How Much Money Does a Maintenance Technician Make?
The professionals earn an average of $18.43 per hour, according to PayScale. But some organizations such as Comcast Cable and Spectrum pay as high as $25 per hour. Technicians in Chicago earn 14.8 percent more than the national average, while Phoenix workers earn the lowest at 3.8 percent below the national average.
What Is the Difference Between a Maintenance Technician and a Maintenance Mechanic?
Maintenance technicians perform general maintenance activities. They can work with machinery, municipalities, or in residential apartments. On the other hand, maintenance mechanics are specialized maintenance workers who deal with mechanical equipment and machines.
What Tools Does a Maintenance Technician Need?
Some of the tools needed are power tools, flashlights, drywall repair kits, electric tools, screwdrivers, utility knife, pipe wrench, painting equipment, hack saw, wire stripper, hand saw, and a safety harness. The NAA also recommends a battery platform.