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Maintenance Technicians learn in apprenticeship programs, informally on the job, in vocational high schools, and in community or technical colleges.
Maintenance Technicians work in various manufacturing industries, including paper and wood mills, food processing, breweries, metal fabrication, and more.
Job opportunities are expected to be good due to increasing demand for the occupation.
* Information retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Maintenance Technicians are highly skilled individuals who safely perform mechanical and electrical duties to keep machines, equipment, or the structure of a facility in repair. They perform preventative and predictive maintenance functions on motors, generators, air compressors and conveyors; starters and motor control centers; programmable logic controllers, computer-based controls, control panels and electrical control systems; and fluid power systems.
Additional duties may include servicing high voltage electrical systems; aligning and balancing new equipment; and performing repair welding, pipefitting and machining tasks.
With all duties, Maintenance Technicians perform their work in accordance with relevant codes.
Before they perform a task, Maintenance Technicians must carefully plan and prepare for the work. They review electronic or written blueprints or specifications for a job. Next, they determine which tools and material are needed. Last, they plan the sequence of work.
The sequence of work typically includes one or more of the following categories:
- Machine and Equipment Repair, All Types
- Repairing bearings, friction/anti-friction; belts and chains; coupling alignment and gear boxes
- Rebuilding and overhauling pumps, incluing scrape and alignment
- Repairing and maintaining conveyors, exhaust fans and blowers, and overhead cranes
- Replacing electric motors
- Performing preventative maintenance inspections, including visual inspection and diagnostics, optical alignments/laster transits and fabrications (sheet metal, guards/rails)
- Interpreting and managing documents and prints
- Electrical Construction, including:
- installing conduit and wiring for power distribution and lighting
- panel building
- installing conduit and wiring for machine and equipment controls
- laying out, planning and installing of control systems including programmable controllers, drives, servo systems, etc.
- installing communication and data systems
- Electrical Maintenance, including:
- Maintaining, trouble shooting, repairing and/or replacing the following items: power distribution and lighting systems, including substations; industrial machinery and equipment, such as motors, electronic controls, and material handling equipment; and general plant equipment, such as HVAC, generators, and boilers
- Effectively using electrician’s tools, including hand and power tools and electrical and electronic test equipment
- Performing scheduled preventative maintenance tasks, such as checking, cleaning and repairing equipment to detect and prevent problems
- Hydraulics and Pneumatics
- Troubleshooting, repairing and rebuilding compressors, pumps, valves, cylinders, and actuators, and piping, tubing and hosing
- Designing and drafting hydraulics and pneumatics
- Reading schematics and/or blue prints
- Properly use personal protective equipment
- Safely use hand and power tools, and electrical and electronic test equipment
- Adhere to lockout-tagout procedures and employer safety requirements to comply local, state and federal regulations
- Flame cutting and heating
- Welding, heat treating and blacksmithing
- Fabricating sheet metal, guards and rails
- Machine Operation
- Operate grinders, drill press, saws, lathes, milling machines, and more
- Alter and repair fixtures and tools
- Sharpen tools
After the work is completed, Maintenance Technicians use both simple and highly sophisticated tools to check the accuracy of their work against blueprints.
Because technology is changing rapidly, Maintenance Technicians must continuously learn a wide range of machines.
Today, most modern industrial facilities are relatively clean, well lit, and ventilated. Maintenance Technicians are typically not limited to a specific work area; rather, they are highly mobile and active throughoutthe facility, going wherever their skills are needed. However, they must be able to stand for long periods of time and work in cramped or uncomfortable positions and on ladders and lifts. They often work with their hands above their heads, in confined spaces and in a variety of conditions and temperatures, both hot and cold.
Working around machines and equipment and with high voltage presents certain dangers. Maintenance Technicians must vigilantly follow safety precautions, and wear personal protective equipment, such as high-voltage suits and gloves, safety belts, protective glasses and/or hard hats, to avoid common hazards.
Maintenance Technicians typically work a 40-hour week, and overtime is common.
Persons interested in becoming Maintenance Technicians should be mechanically inclined,have good problem-solving abilities, be able to work independently, and be able to do highly accurate work that requires concentration and physical effort.
Maintenance Technicians train in apprenticeship programs, informally on the job, and in technical colleges. Regardless of the training setting, Maintenance Technicians must possess or gain the following knowledge:
- High school diploma, General Equivalency Deiploma (GED) or high school equivalency certificate
- Using and maintaining tools
- Applied mathematics, especially algebra and geometry
- Basic computer functions and applications
- High pressure safety policies and procedures
High school or vocational school courses in algebra, geomtery and blueprint reading are highly recommended.
Apprenticeship programs consist of on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction lasting up to 5 years. During on-the-job learning, apprentices work almost full time, and are supervised by an experienced Maintenance Technician. Classroom instruction includes motors and generators, AC and DC electricity, safety blueprint reading, and more. Apprenticeship classes are often taught in cooperation with local community or vocational colleges.
A growing number of Maintenance Technicians learn the trade through 2-year associate degree programs at community or technical colleges. Graduates of these programs still need significant on-the-job experience before they are fully qualified.
What Does the Apprenticeship Program Require?
- 5-year training program
- 9,280 hours on-the-job learning
- 864 hours of paid related instruction
- Additional hours of unpaid related instruction
- Transition-To-Trainer Course in the final year of the apprenticeship
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Entry requirements vary by employer
- Applicants apply directly to participating employers
- Attentive Listening: Ability to give full attention to what other people ar saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness: Ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while hodling your arm and hand in one position
- Communication: Oral and written with an emphasis on understanding verbal instructions, written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Information Ordering:The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set or rules(e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operators)
- Language Skills: Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals; ability to write routine reports and correspondence; ability to speak effectively to individuals and groups.
- Manual Dexterity: The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Mathematical Skills: Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in all units of measure using whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals; ability to compute basic algebraic, geometric, and trigonometric formulas used in shop mathematics.
- Physical Ability: The ability to stand, walk, push, pull, reach overhead, and bend to the floor.
- Problem Sensitivity: The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Reasoning: The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Time Management: Ability to manage one's own time and the time of others
- Troubleshooting: Ability to determine causes of operating errors and decide what to do about it
- Trunk Strength: The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains information on all occupations. For more information on the Maintenance Technician trade in the United States, visit:
Sources: Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Position Descriptions,
Apprenticeship in Wisconsin Handbook