General Maintenance and Repair Workers


Quick Facts: General Maintenance and Repair Workers
2017 Median Pay $37,670 per year 
$18.11 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 1,432,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 112,500

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General Maintenance and Repair Workers Career, Salary, and Education Information

What General Maintenance and Repair Workers Do

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems.

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general maintenance and repair workers

Duties of General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers typically do the following:

  • Maintain and repair machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings

  • Fix or replace faulty electrical switches, outlets, and circuit breakers

  • Inspect and diagnose problems and figure out the best way to correct them

  • Perform routine preventive maintenance to ensure that machines continue to run smoothly

  • Assemble and set up machinery or equipment

  • Plan repair work using blueprints or diagrams

  • Do general cleaning and upkeep of buildings and properties

  • Order supplies from catalogs and storerooms

  • Meet with clients to estimate repairs and costs

  • Keep detailed records of their work

General maintenance and repair workers are hired for maintenance and repair tasks that are not complex enough to need the specialized training of a licensed tradesperson, such as a plumber or electrician.

These workers are also responsible for recognizing when a job is above their skill level and requires the expertise of an electrician; a carpenter; a heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanic or installer; or a plumber, pipefitter, or steamfitter.

General maintenance and repair workers may fix or paint roofs, windows, doors, floors, woodwork, walls, and other parts of buildings.

They also maintain and repair specialized equipment and machinery in cafeterias, laundries, hospitals, stores, offices, and factories.

General maintenance and repair workers get supplies and parts from distributors or storerooms to fix problems. They use common hand and power tools, such as screwdrivers, saws, drills, wrenches, and hammers to fix, replace, or repair equipment and parts of buildings.


Work Environment for General Maintenance and Repair Workers

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.

Education

Many maintenance and repair workers learn some basic skills in high school shop or technical education classes, postsecondary trade or vocational schools, or community colleges.

Courses in mechanical drawing, electricity, woodworking, blueprint reading, 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.

Training

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 lightbulbs. After gaining experience, general maintenance and repair workers move on to more difficult tasks, such as overhauling machinery or building walls.

Some general maintenance and repair workers learn their skills by assisting other types of repair or construction workers, including machinery repairerscarpenters, or electricians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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.

Advancement

Some maintenance and repair workers decide to train in one specific craft and become craftworkers, such as electriciansheating and air-conditioning mechanics, or plumbers.

Other maintenance workers eventually open their own repair or contracting business. However, those who want to become a project manager or own their own business may need some postsecondary education or a degree in construction management. For more information, see the profile on construction managers.

Within small organizations, promotion opportunities may be limited.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. These workers interact with customers on a regular basis. They need to be friendly and able to address customers’ questions.

Dexterity. Many repair and maintenance tasks, such as repairing small devices, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Troubleshooting skills. Workers find, diagnose, and repair problems. They perform tests to figure out the cause of problems before fixing equipment.


Salaries for General Maintenance and Repair Workers

The median annual wage for general maintenance and repair workers was $37,670 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,820, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,720.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for general maintenance and repair workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing: $44,260

Government: $41,490

Educational services; state, local, and private: $40,000

Healthcare and social assistance: $36,990

Real estate and rental and leasing: $35,000

Most general maintenance and repair workers work full time, including evenings and weekends. Some are on call for emergency repairs.


Job Outlook for General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Employment of general maintenance and repair workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment may rise as increasing home prices and sales drive demand for remodeling and maintenance work. In addition, maintenance and repair workers will continue to be needed to upgrade and renovate older homes.

Demographic changes also may affect the demand for general maintenance and repair workers. Because homeowners typically prefer to remain in their homes as they age, demand may increase for workers as the large baby-boom generation nears retirement. These older homeowners will invest in projects and renovations to accommodate their future living needs and allow them to remain in their homes after retirement.

The large millennial generation will also be entering the prime working-age and household-forming age cohort over the next decade. Although this generation has delayed home ownership because of financial and debt obligations, it is projected that many will enter the housing market over the next 10 years. These first-time homebuyers may favor existing older homes, which are often smaller and cheaper than new houses. This should help boost demand for maintenance and repair work to help keep these older homes in good condition.

In addition to single-family homes, maintenance and repair work is also needed for other types of properties. Due to the aging of many types of buildings, maintenance and repair workers will be needed to work on rental units and commercial and public buildings.

Many general maintenance and repair workers are employed in industries related to real estate, so employment opportunities may be sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. Some workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction and real estate development falls. However, maintenance and repairs continue during economic downturns as people opt to repair, rather than replace, equipment.

Job Prospects

Employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year will likely result in good job prospects. Many job openings are expected as experienced workers retire. Those with experience in repair- or maintenance-related fields should continue to have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for General Maintenance and Repair Workers, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 2,955,200

Projected Employment, 2026: 3,392,200

Change, 2016-2026: +15%, +437,000


Careers Related to General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration(HVACR) technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from, and within businesses, homes, and factories.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
BoilermakersHigh school diploma or equivalent$62,260
CarpentersHigh school diploma or equivalent$45,170
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$91,370
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers$57,210
ElectriciansHigh school diploma or equivalent$54,110
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and InstallersPostsecondary nondegree award$47,080
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and SteamfittersHigh school diploma or equivalent$52,590

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, General Maintenance and Repair Workers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/general-maintenance-and-repair-workers.htm