Building Maintenance Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a building maintenance technician career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary statistics to determine if a building maintenance career is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of a Building Maintenance Technician Career

Working as a building maintenance technician involves making repairs and performing routine maintenance to ensure that building systems run smoothly. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of work as a building maintenance technician.

Pros of a Building Maintenance Technician Career
Good salary relative to education requirements (median salary of about $36,000 in 2014)*
Job location flexibility*
Considerable autonomy**
Variety of daily activities (installation, construction, cleaning etc.)*

Cons of a Building Maintenance Technician Career
Advancement opportunities may be limited*
Emergency repairs may require working nights and weekends*
Risk of serious injury with certain repairs**
Work may be performed in uncomfortably hot or cold environments*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Building maintenance technicians repair and maintain all types of building systems, including HVAC, plumbing and appliances. As a building maintenance technician, you will have wide-ranging tasks that may require a vast array of tools. A typical day of work might include troubleshooting and fixing electrical switches, patching a leaky roof, ordering supplies and performing maintenance on any number of machines. Basic wiring or plumbing work might be required. You'll also need to keep detailed records of your work.

An important part of your job is recognizing when a job is too complex for your skill level. Knowing when to consult a licensed tradesperson can be the difference between getting an issue resolved and making things worse. Your routine preventive measures may help make visits from outside repairmen rare occurrences.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job growth for general maintenance and repair workers would be about average, at 9%, from 2012-2022. While the use of computerized building management systems may have some negative impact on employment for maintenance workers, the job outlook is generally strong. As of May 2014, the BLS reported a median annual salary of about $36,000 for general maintenance and repair workers.

Requirements

Although most building maintenance positions don't have formal education requirements, many workers in the field learn skills in vocational schools or community colleges. Coursework focused in electricity, woodworking, blueprint reading and mechanical drawing can be especially helpful for building maintenance technicians. It's also common for maintenance workers to learn under the supervision of more experienced technicians.

Computer skills are increasingly important for prospective building maintenance technicians, because many newer buildings utilize automated controls to regulate important systems. Troubleshooting skills and manual dexterity are also important attributes for maintenance technicians. In some states, licensing may be required for complex tasks, such as electrical and plumbing work.

What Are Employers Looking For?

If you have building maintenance experience and some technical know-how, you might find work in a variety of settings. You may perform maintenance tasks in one building or many buildings, such as those on a college campus. Some job postings open in April 2012 might give you an idea of the specific expectations of building maintenance technician positions.

  • A large musical instrument company based in California seeks a building maintenance and repair technician. Essential functions of the position include painting exterior walls, performing minor repairs on electrical systems, repairing office equipment and replacing damaged machine parts. The position requires 3-5 years of related experience.
  • An automotive sales and repair company in Dallas is looking for a building maintenance technician with 10 years of experience. The position requires strong electrical ability and basic plumbing experience. Air compressor maintenance skills are preferred.
  • A commercial real estate company in Ohio seeks a building maintenance technician to troubleshoot and repair all building operating systems. Working knowledge of electrical, plumbing, fire protection and security systems is necessary. The position requires 5-7 years of experience and may require answering after-hours emergency calls.

Making Your Skills Stand Out

One way to stand out from other jobseekers in the building maintenance technician field is to train in one specific area and become a craft worker. This type of training may lead to work focused in electricity, plumbing and heating and air conditioning. Some large organizations may find such specialized training especially beneficial for members of their maintenance staff.

Certification is another measure you can take to set yourself apart from other building maintenance professionals. The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Certifying Organization (SMRPCO) offers the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) credential. The BLS says that this certification may help maintenance workers get better jobs and have more advancement opportunities. This voluntary certification affirms competency in equipment and manufacturing process reliability, leadership, business and work management.

Alternative Career Options

If you'd prefer to perform maintenance tasks in a pleasant outdoor environment, you might want to consider a career as a grounds maintenance worker. These positions involve ensuring attractive and orderly grounds for houses, businesses and parks. Although the job growth is good (the BLS projected faster than average job growth for grounds maintenance workers at 20% from 2010-2020), the median salary is below that of a building maintenance technician. The BLS reported in May 2011 that the median annual salary for grounds maintenance workers was around $25,000.

If you choose to advance your education at a vocational school or community college, you may want to consider pursuing a career as an electrical and electronics installer and repairer. These occupations involve installing, repairing or replacing electrical equipment in a wide range of industries. The BLS reported a median annual salary of about $50,000 for electrical and electronics installers and repairers as of May 2011, but job growth was expected to be well below average at 3% from 2010-2020.

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