Jobs in this field typically do not require any formal education beyond high school. General maintenance and repair workers often learn their skills on the job. They start by doing simple tasks and watching and learning from skilled maintenance workers.
Many maintenance and repair workers may learn some basic skills in high school shop or technical educations classes, postsecondary trade or vocational schools, or community colleges.
Courses in mechanical drawing, electricity, woodworking, blueprint reading, science, mathematics, and computers are useful. Maintenance and repair workers often do work that involves electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning systems or painting and roofing tasks. Workers need a good working knowledge of many repair and maintenance tasks.
Practical training, available at many adult education centers and community colleges, is another option for workers to learn tasks such as drywall repair and basic plumbing.
General maintenance and repair workers usually start by watching and learning from skilled maintenance workers. They begin by doing simple tasks, such as fixing leaky faucets and replacing light bulbs. They go on to more difficult tasks, such as overhauling machinery or building walls.
Some learn their skills by working as helpers to other types of repair or construction workers, including machinery repairers, carpenters, or electricians.
Because a growing number of new buildings rely on computers to control their systems, general maintenance and repair workers may need to know basic computer skills, such as how to log onto a central computer system and navigate through a series of menus. Companies that install computer-controlled equipment usually give on-site training for general maintenance and repair workers.
General maintenance and repair workers can show their competency by attaining voluntary certification. The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) offers the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) designation to those who successfully complete the program and pass an exam. Certification can help applicants find jobs and provide them with better advancement opportunities.
Licensing requirements vary by state and locality. For more complex tasks, workers may need to be licensed in a particular specialty, such as electrical or plumbing work.
Some maintenance and repair workers decide to train in one specific craft and become craft workers, such as electricians, heating and air-conditioning mechanics, or plumbers. Within small organizations, promotion opportunities may be limited.
Computer skills. Many new buildings have automated controls. Workers must be able to navigate a centralized computer system to adjust and monitor the controls.
Customer-service skills. Workers interact with customers on a regular basis. They need to be friendly and able to address customers’ questions.
Dexterity. Many technician tasks, such as repairing small devices, connecting or attaching components, and using handtools, require a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.
Troubleshooting skills. Workers find, diagnose, and repair problems. They do tests to figure out the cause of problems before fixing equipment.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition