Career as a General Maintenance and Repair specialist can be varied and there are many opportunities for employment in almost every industry and business. Most work a 40-hour week, but their schedule may include nights, weekends, and on call scheduling for emergencies. Workers may have to have knowledge to perform many different tasks as part of their routine. This may include climbing ladders, lifting heavy objects, and risking dangers such as electrical shocks, falls, burns and cuts. They may also be exposed to the outside environment in all seasonal weather. Repair and maintenance jobs may be in several locations and buildings, or all in a single location.
There is quite a salary range for workers choosing this career. The pay is lower than that for engineers or other professionals because entry into this career does not require a college degree or certifications. Most general maintenance and repair workers average $14.76 per hour (May 2004) and the median pay range is between $11.11 and $19.17 per hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Different skills needed to be a general maintenance and repair specialist include knowing how to work with machines, mechanical equipment, plumbing, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) systems, roofing, carpentry, windows, doors and other building parts. Janitorial services are frequently part of their duties, and this requires modern knowledge of environmental hazards. Another new area for maintenance and repair is in robotics and automation equipment. These workers must run inspections and solve problems when machinery fails or systems go down. Computer knowledge is another area in which general maintenance and repair specialists must be up to date with current information and equipment.
Working on HVACR systems is very important; it is critical for safety of humans that these systems are working properly and this requires special training. Computer-controlled systems for automatic lighting, watering, and temperature controls are another area that requires the worker to have advanced training. Specialists need to know how to read blueprints, repair manuals and catalogs of parts. They must know what parts are needed, and where and how to order them. Tools commonly used include hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, drills, saws and other hand or power tools. Some equipment maintenance will require the use of special testing equipment and analyzers. Maintenance and repair specialists are expected to know how to fix equipment at every location. It is upon their shoulders to keep every system running properly and safely, all the while adhering to any government regulations regarding the environment.
An important part of their job is record keeping, to track maintenance and service work. Many are employed in small businesses where they must handle everything. In larger industries, their work may have a more narrow focus or specialty.
The general outlook for job opportunities in this career is good, with large turnover within the job market, the retirement of older workers and the impact of newer technology and equipment. Job growth is expected to keep pace on average with other careers for the near future. With more companies installing computers and computer controlled equipment, technical expertise is very beneficial to have. In 2004, there were approximately 1.3 million jobs in this career area, and workers were employed in all industries. Many are employed by manufacturers and by government organizations. A good portion of these specialists also will work for firms that manage offices and apartment buildings.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
It is possible to enter this career right out of high school, or even through high school co-op programs while still in school. All must receive specific training, however, and trade school classes are an excellent choice. It may take from 1 to 4 years to learn this trade on-the-job or in school. Computer skills and machinery knowledge is a must.
Many specialists are able to learn their skills while working; others learn by as assistants to repair technicians or construction workers. High school graduation is preferable for entry into this career. Courses in basic mechanical drawing, woodworking, science, mathematics, computers, and blueprint reading are a good foundation to have. The student should have and enjoy working with machinery. Physical ability is a plus, as much walking, climbing, carrying and lifting will be part of their job duties. Being able to work independently, without constant supervision is a necessity.
Those who do obtain entry-level jobs in this career may advance by obtaining additional formal training, on-the-job supervised training, or becoming a craft worker or apprentice in a skilled trade such as electrician, HVACR technician, or a plumber or mechanic apprentice.
There is training available that offers general maintenance and repair certification upon completion of course work in building maintenance programs. Some program certification will transfer over towards college or technical school degree programs. Although no certification is required to obtain employment in this profession, there may be situations where state licensing is required, and students must pass an examination to obtain such licensing.
General Maintenance and Repair specialists can join unions such as the United Auto Workers or the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
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