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What is a Maintenance Technician?

A Maintenance Technician performs routine maintenance of equipment and machinery and helps troubleshoot and repair any mechanical or electrical problems when they arise. 

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for Maintenance Technicians was $59,380 in May 2021 with projected job growth of 19% from 2020 to 2029. In addition, maintenance technicians often have to work shifts or provide on-call support to deal with any emergency breakdowns and as a result, can earn significant amounts of overtime pay throughout the year.

Let’s take a closer look at the details of maintenance and the role of a maintenance technician.

Note: This role is sometimes referred to as an “Industrial Maintenance Technician” and this will be the focus of this post.

What does a Maintenance Technician do?

A Maintenance Technician performs preventative maintenance and emergency maintenance. In a manufacturing or industrial setting, he or she helps troubleshoot and quickly repair any mechanical or electrical problems should they arise with the manufacturing processes and supporting equipment and systems in the facility. His or her day-to-day tasks can vary greatly based on what needs attention at the time.

The ultimate aim of the maintenance team in a company is to keep the manufacturing process 100% operational and minimize the amount of downtime. Failure in this can result in a reduction in output of a finished product,  compromised quality standards which can lead to the destruction of a faulty product, catastrophic reputational damage, and a loss of revenue for the company.

In life-critical industries such as aircraft manufacturing, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing, the consequences can be fatal.

Another key responsibility is to keep up-to-date documentation, especially in highly controlled and regulated environments such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing.

What are Maintenance Technicians’ Duties and Responsibilities? 

In larger companies, the role of a Maintenance Technician can be more specialized, including areas such as instrumentation, facilities, mechanical or electrical. In smaller companies or at smaller facilities, Maintenance Technicians may be required to take a more general role.

They may also be consulted in regard to continuous improvement of manufacturing equipment and processes.

Maintenance Technicians often work in shifts and can also be required to supply “on-call” support to their facility, depending upon the specifics of the job role. Maintenance Technicians usually work as part of a wider maintenance team within the facility.

Specific tasks can include:

  • Perform diagnostic tests and root cause analysis to figure out problems with machinery or equipment.
  • Disassemble the machinery or equipment when there is a problem then repair or replace any broken or malfunctioning parts
  • Test the machine or run an initial batch to make sure that the machine is running properly
  • Assisting in the installation of new manufacturing equipment
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment or machinery as per specifications
  • Routine inspection and testing of equipment and machinery – this needs to be planned to ensure minimal disruption of processes
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Preventative maintenance tasks to try to minimize unexpected issues with equipment
  • Responding to alerts and carrying out corrective procedures and repairs in line with SOPs and maintenance protocols.
  • Keep all documentation of both routine checks and repairs up-to-date and in line with both internal and external procedures
  • Maintains logs of any downtime within the manufacturing system
  • May be involved in the training of production staff on routine maintenance procedures

What Are the Different Types of Maintenance Technicians?

A maintenance technician’s role can cover a huge variety of industries and tasks. Let’s take a look at some of the more common categories of maintenance technicians you might find in an industrial setting.

Mechanical Maintenance Technicians – The role is focused on the upkeep and repair of machines within the manufacturing facility. The focus could be on mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic systems. The skills requirement can vary hugely depending on the sophistication and complexity of the machines. Generally speaking and depending on the country, mechanical maintenance technicians will have served an apprenticeship as a fitter, toolmaker, plumber, welder or even a mechanic or have undergone significant training for the role either on the job or at a third level institution.

Electrical Maintenance Technicians – The role is focused on the upkeep and repair of industrial-scale electrical equipment. Again, the skills required can vary hugely depending on the sophistication and complexity of the electrical equipment. Generally speaking, electrical maintenance technicians will have served an electrician’s apprenticeship or have undergone significant training for the role. The role could extend to instrumentation and calibration and even industrial automation.

Building Maintenance Technician – This role is focused on the upkeep and repair of a building or facility. For smaller and less complicated buildings, the role is sometimes referred to as a “maintenance worker” and the duties may be less technical than those of an industrial maintenance technician. Maintenance workers often take on more of a handyman role, performing routine maintenance on common breakdowns. However, for larger and more sophisticated facilities, the role may require extensive training particularly if the building uses complex electrical wiring, mechanical or plumbing systems.  Or if the building uses complex HVAC systems for cleanrooms such as semiconductor or pharmaceutical or vaccine manufacturing. Those who have served an electrical or plumbing apprenticeship or have a relevant university qualification could be recruited for these types of roles.

What Skills Do I Need?

The ideal skill set for someone moving into Maintenance Technician roles includes:

  • Proactive – carry out preventative checks and routine inspections. Must be able to see potential issues, take corrective measures and anticipate ongoing needs. May also be required to keep a stock of spare parts, ordering and replacing as necessary.
  • Deductive reasoning –  Must have the ability to independently work through, identify and isolate the root cause of a problem, based on observation or on the reporting of faults from the production team.
  • Manual dexterity – be able to use their hands or tools in a skilful and coordinated way to grasp and manipulate objects with small, precise movements
  • Creative problem-solving skills – must be able to work independently, know or be able to source information to resolve issues with machinery. In emergency situations, they may have to jerry-rig a solution to get the plant up and running.
  • Attention to detail – must be able to observe the routine operation of manufacturing equipment, develop an intuitive understanding, sixth sense or “feel” for the machine and quickly spot when something is not right. Must keep clear and accurate records of routine testing as well as troubleshooting and repairs.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills – must be able to interpret reporting of maintenance issues and provide clear instruction or update about interventions or repairs.
  • Written communication skills – have to be able to read and interpret maintenance documentation, manuals, and plans. Also, have to keep required documentation up to date to ensure compliance with internal and external manufacturing guidelines.
  • IT skills – including database upkeep, logs and reporting, and cross-team communication.
  • Team working – as well as team working with maintenance colleagues, must be able to work efficiently with production team members to keep downtime of the manufacturing line to a minimum.
  • Time management – must be able to plan and execute routine maintenance activities as well as responding to troubleshooting requests and unexpected equipment issues.

Becoming a Maintenance Technician

Candidates will typically be required to have a high school/secondary level of education. A third level education in a relevant field, a relevant apprenticeship (electrical, toolmaker, fitter/welder, plumber) or industrial maintenance experience will be advantageous.

Certifications may or may not be required, although they can be useful as a means of demonstrating a candidate’s ability to do the job effectively. A plumber, fitter/welder or electrician’s qualifications can demonstrate an applicant’s expertise, range and versatility and provide added value compared to other applicants without similar qualifications.

A Maintenance Technician will likely receive on-the-job training for entry-level positions when first starting out.

Maintenance Technicians in the Pharmaceutical Industry

If you already work as a maintenance technician and would like to retrain to perform the same or similar role within the pharmaceutical industry, check out our 18-week Conversion Course into Maintenance Roles in Pharma. This program is the quickest way to learn all you need to, to successfully move into maintenance or facility technician roles within the pharmaceutical & medical device industry from a different industry.

Here are some typical job titles we often see advertised and that you could apply for (and depending on your previous experience);

  • Maintenance Technician
  • Maintenance Fitter
  • Facilities Technician
  • Manufacturing Maintenance Technician
  • Facilities Coordinator
  • Facilities Technologist
  • Maintenance Technician (process equipment)

Maintenance Technician Salaries & Job Growth

Your salary will vary depending on:

  • the sector your work in
  • the size of the company or organisation you work for
  • how many late-night call-outs or shift work you do
  • the market demand for the job

Check out our salary guide for Maintenance Technicians for information local to you.

Maintenance Technician Resume Tips

As with all resumes, it’s extremely important that you tailor your Maintenance Technician resume to reflect the language used within the job advert. Where you have relevant experience or skills, use the words and phrases that the employer has used to describe them. Do not assume that someone will read similar wording and know what you mean.

Maintenance Technician roles will typically be looking for the skills previously outlined:

  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Proactive
  • Problem-solving skills
  • IT skills
  • Team working
  • Time management

For more help with your resume, check out these templates and this list of 30 tips to improve your resume.

Maintenance Technician Job Vacancies

For more information on currently available Maintenance Technician roles, head to our pharmaceutical jobs board for Ireland and our pharmaceutical jobs board for the UK and select Maintenance in the “Jobs by Category” menu.