How to Be a Maintenance Technician (With Duties and Skills)

Updated June 5, 2023

Maintenance technicians ensure that equipment continues to function as intended by conducting regular inspections and addressing concerns. They use extensive technical knowledge and excellent troubleshooting skills to determine efficient solutions. Learning how to be a maintenance technician can help you determine whether it's a career that interests you. In this article, we explain what a maintenance technician is, share some practical steps to follow, list duties associated with the role, and discuss skills you can develop for success in this career.

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What is a maintenance technician?

A maintenance technician inspects, maintains, and repairs complex mechanical equipment. They use specialized equipment to diagnose issues and apply problem-solving and troubleshooting skills to find suitable solutions. This may involve repairing parts, replacing components of a machine, and applying maintenance procedures to avoid degradation. They aim to ensure that equipment functions efficiently and safely for as long as possible and work quickly to prevent or minimize downtime.

These technicians often collaborate with other tradespeople to maintain the systems and appliances throughout a facility. The role sometimes involves reading blueprints, managing an inventory of tools and parts, and reporting on equipment performance. Maintenance technicians are also familiar with relevant safety regulations and industry standards and stay current with changes as they arise to remain in compliance.

How to be a maintenance technician

Here are steps you can follow when learning how to be a maintenance technician:

1. Complete high school

A high school diploma is typically the minimum academic requirement to begin your career as a maintenance technician. Consider focusing on math and science classes and choosing technological education courses if your school offers them. These subjects help prepare you with foundational knowledge and basic skills you can apply in your role as a maintenance technician and throughout any additional training you pursue.

2. Pursue postsecondary training

After high school, consider enrolling in a diploma or apprenticeship program at a vocational school or college to further your career. Some relevant options include industrial, mechanical, electrical, or facilities maintenance programs, as these provide you with a wide range of skills for the role. These typically take two to four years to complete and offer practical learning opportunities you can apply on the job.

Apprenticeships offer paid learning opportunities where you gain work experience for your resume. Vocational and college programs involve more in-class learning paired with practical training. While not a requirement for technician roles, these programs allow you to develop a range of skills and build your confidence in performing complex maintenance tasks. They can also make you a more competitive candidate when searching for a job, as many employers seek candidates with a postsecondary diploma.

3. Earn a relevant qualification

A professional qualification shows potential employers that you know how to maintain and repair different types of equipment. Maintenance technicians typically require knowledge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units, plumbing, welding, electrical systems, and carpentry. You can also benefit from gaining qualifications related to building maintenance technology, hydraulics systems, motor controls, and the use of particular power tools or diagnostic devices. Start by researching different certificate programs to determine which type suits your schedule and learning style. For instance, online certifications may have more flexible hours than programs that require in-class learning.

Many certifications take less time to earn than vocational school, college, or apprenticeship programs, and some don't require any experience to enroll. While these allow you to begin your career without extensive education or training, they may limit the tasks you can complete on the job. They can also be an excellent way to improve your resume and expand your skill set.

Related: HVAC Technician Certificate (Definition, FAQs, and Answers)

4. Apply for roles

Begin applying for entry-level maintenance technician roles by preparing a resume and cover letter that describe your education, experience, and skill set. Entry-level roles provide excellent practical opportunities to learn from experienced maintenance technicians and certified journeypeople. It's beneficial to include specific examples of power tools and diagnostic tests you're familiar with and the types of equipment or systems you have experience maintaining.

Include a cover letter with your application that elaborates on the information in your resume. In your cover letter, explain why you believe you're the right candidate for the role. As you gain experience, update your resume to feature more complex maintenance tasks that might apply to supervisory or management positions.

Read more: How to Write a Maintenance Technician Resume (With Examples)

Maintenance technician duties and responsibilities

Here are some tasks you may be responsible for in your career as a maintenance technician:

  • inspecting equipment and machinery to resolve maintenance issues or potential hazards

  • testing and calibrating equipment to ensure optimal performance

  • repairing or replacing defective or deteriorating machinery components

  • following safety protocols, regulations, and guidelines to create a safe work environment

  • performing routine maintenance and cleaning tasks to ensure equipment remains safe and functional

  • conducting maintenance of HVAC systems, including cleaning filters and replacing worn-out components

  • performing electrical repairs and installations, such as replacing faulty switches, outlets, or wiring

  • inspecting plumbing systems, such as repairing leaks, fitting pipes, or testing pressure

  • inspecting and maintaining fire alarm systems and other safety equipment

  • operating power tools, hand tools, and specialized equipment

  • keeping accurate records, such as work orders, repairs, diagnostic test results, and equipment performance

  • troubleshooting and diagnosing issues to determine suitable solutions

  • conducting inspections and preventive maintenance tasks according to scheduled plans

  • addressing maintenance requests and prioritizing emergency situations

  • keeping a detailed inventory of maintenance supplies and ordering more as needed

  • supporting the development of safe maintenance procedures and protocols

  • ensuring other maintenance technicians and team members follow safety procedures

  • staying current with industry trends, best practices, and changes in regulations

  • supporting other technicians and mentoring apprentices and new team members

Related: Maintenance Mechanic Responsibilities and Essential Skills

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Skills for maintenance technicians

Here are some skills you can develop or improve during your training to excel as a maintenance technician:

Familiarity with tools and equipment

Understanding when to use appropriate tools and testing procedures allows you to conduct an inspection or make a repair. It also ensures the efficient and safe completion of maintenance tasks. It's essential to practise using these tools correctly and follow safety protocols carefully to protect yourself, other technicians, and any people who use the equipment you repair. You can use your knowledge of diagnostic tools to evaluate how a piece of equipment or machinery is performing and identify any issues or hazards.

Problem-solving skills

As a maintenance technician, you apply your extensive technical knowledge to resolve complex maintenance problems. This requires excellent critical thinking and observation techniques to troubleshoot issues and overcome challenges. Being systematic in your approach to solving problems makes the process more efficient. This skill allows you to evaluate different components of a machine in a logical order, analyze the cause of a fault, and determine a suitable solution while reducing or eliminating equipment downtime. You can develop effective strategies as you gain experience and encounter similar problems during your career.

Read more: A List of Lead Maintenance Technician Resume Skills

Knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems

Thorough knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems is vital in a maintenance technician role. This skill allows you to diagnose and troubleshoot issues effectively, perform preventive maintenance, and handle repairs safely. Proficiency in plumbing and electrical maintenance can make it easier to communicate with specialist tradespeople and coordinate your efforts. It also helps you respond promptly in emergencies, minimizing risks and restoring functionality. Knowledge of these systems enhances your versatility and enables you to provide comprehensive support for facility maintenance, from routine tasks to complex issues.

Related: 8 of the Highest Paying Trades Positions

Safety awareness

These technicians are required to adhere to specific safety regulations and codes when inspecting and repairing technical machinery. This includes reporting and addressing hazards, handling cleaning chemicals, and wearing personal protective equipment. This can reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and property damage caused by faulty appliances. A significant part of the role involves ensuring the building and its equipment meet safety compliance standards, so familiarity with relevant regulations is valuable.

Related: Maintenance Technician Interview Questions (With Answers)

Blueprint reading

Learning to read and interpret blueprints allows you to understand the layout of equipment, identify components, ensure safety compliance, plan maintenance tasks, and communicate with other tradespeople effectively. As blueprints provide detailed information about machinery placement, system interconnections, and part specifications, they are required for troubleshooting, repairs, and routine maintenance. Reading blueprints allows you to accurately identify components, follow safety precautions, develop maintenance plans, and update documentation. Proficiency in this area enhances your overall problem-solving abilities, efficiency, and accuracy in maintaining and repairing complex systems.

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