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Unveiling 10 Crucial Maintenance Technician Skills

Two workers in protective gear inspecting industrial refrigeration equipment in a factory.
Maintenance technician is an umbrella term for a tradesperson who specializes in keeping equipment up to standards and fit for industry. It can be all sorts of equipment, like engines or automobiles for a particular brand, or custom machinery and robots for an assembly line, or military vehicles and armaments. Some maintenance technician jobs or positions might require different skill sets and training. In a manufacturing warehouse you may need to know the mechanics and assembly line of the products. If working at a university or hospital, you may need to know the slight differences in each building and so on. There are too many types of maintenance technician jobs to talk about in detail. However, while they may require different knowledge, qualifications, and training to do, all maintenance technicians require some general, but very important skills. We’ve listed the top ten most crucial ones for maintenance technician jobs across each industry. 


Top 10 Maintenance Technician Skills

1. Problem Solving

This is the backbone of any maintenance technician position, no matter what the equipment is. From hot water heaters to press brake machines, maintenance technicians get called in for all sorts of equipment. An important trait is being able to apply what they’ve learned from past projects to current challenges.
A problem-solving mindset is key here. Often, maintenance technicians are trained on an algorithm for troubleshooting, or can connect to engineers or staff to assist them. Focusing on what could be the source of the problem, and then solving it (or communicating the information to someone who can), is crucial to becoming a good maintenance technician.

2. Attention to Detail

This goes together with problem solving, especially when it comes to very intricate and complicated equipment like aviation, robotics, and computers. That’s because more complicated equipment simply has more moving pieces that can go wrong, or because the issues they create can be trickier to solve. This is why paying attention to detail can be very helpful, because being mindful of small details and parts can go a long way to preventing said problems before they can become problematic.

3. Physical Ability

This can depend on the job. A software-based maintenance technician probably wouldn’t need to have the physical ability of a technician working in heavy agricultural equipment. Still, being in good physical shape may make your job easier. 

4. Basic Computer Skills

This is going to sound like the opposite of the previous skill. If you’re a maintenance technician in an energy plant, you probably don’t need to have the software and coding skills of a technician working in a cloud computing facility. But you will likely be working with computers or smart devices, and you’ll need to be able to perform basic tasks like emails, writing reports, and video conferencing.

5. Communication Skills

Communication is key in most roles on any jobsite. Machine operators may come to you with issues, you’ll be expected to report to your higher-ups, and so on. Good communication is very important to the job role. Verbal communication is important, especially when you’re collaborating and part of a team to solve a problem, but you’ll also need to communicate effectively through writing, where you’ll describe the problem in your reports and logs. 

6. Technical Skills

This is a given. Maintenance technicians will need to have a strong technical background in their field. Technicians working in the automotive industry will likely have different technical skills compared to someone working at an educational institution. Make sure you understand the fundamentals of your training and be sure to ask questions or speak up if you’re unsure. 

7. Time Management

Maintenance technicians might need to be responsible for multiple clients in a day. They may also have to do occasional administrative tasks like logging reports or scheduling. Wearing all these hats requires time management skills, so all the tasks can be done effectively and properly. Make sure to give yourself as much time as you need to do your job correctly and keep your schedule realistic. 

8. Ability to Work Under Pressure

Oftentimes, maintenance technicians must troubleshoot problems that are affecting or slowing a client’s work. They may have to solve the problem while facing pressure to get the equipment back up to operational speed urgently. Maintenance technicians must be able to carry out their work well, even under the scrutiny of a client. 

9. Assemble Machine and Equipment

To a certain degree, maintenance technicians working with machinery, vehicles, robots, etc., must be familiar with its assembly. Hardware problems and maintenance require proficiency with the necessary tools and a good understanding of how the product is assembled/disassembled, so being able to assemble them or understand the schematics helps the job go that much more smoothly. 

10. Diagnosing and Repairing Machine Failures

Knowing the assembly of a machine or device is only half the battle. A maintenance technician must be able to diagnose the source of the problem and be able to repair it. This not only takes a strong understanding of how the device functions in pristine condition but what causes common issues and/or the physical skills to repair them. 

What are the Main Roles of a Maintenance Technician?

Maintenance technicians’ most common roles in most industries are performing maintenance checks on the equipment, regular inspections and testing, troubleshooting when necessary, and sometimes performing updates on the device/software. They may also have some administrative tasks like logging client records, ordering parts for their tasks, and so on. Understanding the equipment they're using and working on and approaching each task with a problem-solving mindset are some of the most useful skills you can have as a maintenance technician. Understanding makes it easier to recognize and troubleshoot a problem, as does having that mindset. 

The Intersection of Maintenance and Facilities Technician Skills

A facilities technician is a person responsible for maintaining the working facility. This can include being responsible for IT/software, keeping the workplace clean and functional, painting and repairing doors and appliances, and so on. A facilities technician is responsible for maintenance, but often for the building that houses the machinery a maintenance technician repairs. Still, they must have an eye for detail and a good problem-solving mindset. Communication is also important here too, as facilities technicians will also need to inform their team and workspace colleagues in case their work is affected. 

Understanding the Role of a Facilities Technician

A facilities technician is responsible for the maintenance of the building or workspace. Their responsibilities may vary; they might work under IT, or housekeeping, for example. They might be responsible for keeping inventory up to date or performing simple tasks like repainting or installing furniture or equipment in staff offices. The jobs really vary by employer. 

Developing Maintenance and Facilities Technician Skills

The facilities skills we’ve mentioned above will take time to grow, but with time and dedication they’ll come. Here are some paths to help expedite your development.

Training and Educational Paths
There isn’t always a set pathway to becoming a maintenance technician, unlike a carpenter or electrician. Having a background in the trades does help, as does having a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Also, having a background in the industry you’re looking to break into can be beneficial. 
On-the-job Learning and Skill Enhancement
Most maintenance technician skills will be learned on the job. Companies invest a lot of time, money, and energy into developing their products and machinery, and employers might spend quite a bit of money to buy them. Therefore, companies will want to properly train their maintenance technicians. Often, they learn a lot on the job — from basic skills to nuances in the devices. 

How to Improve your Maintenance Technician Skills

Be a good learner, plain and simple. Be teachable, be open to feedback, and keep learning. Technology always changes, you might learn new tools, and so on. Be ready to absorb new information as it comes. Communicate when you’re not sure and pass along what you learn to your colleagues so they can grow too. Ask your managers and seniors for the resources they used to learn the material and tasks expected of them. Since the devices and equipment you’ll be working with are so specific, your company would be the best resource for further learning and training. 

Challenges and Opportunities in the Maintenance Technician Career Path

The most obvious challenge of becoming a maintenance technician is the lack of standard education. Training, beyond a few basic skills, can be company specific. The other problem with learning a very specific skill set or problem-solving education is that you might have a tough time applying them to another field, or even another company. For example, if you assemble engines for a specific automaker like Mercedes, they may use parts and techniques that make it difficult to work for General Motors, because of the difference.
Evolving Technologies
Regardless of the field or industry you choose to become a maintenance technician for, you can be sure that you’ll have to keep learning. For example, in the automotive space, the emerging trend in the sector is electric vehicles (EVs). Soon, maintenance technicians in the automotive space will get to learn and train on the equipment and technology for this new evolution. And this is just one industry — innovation is occurring in energy, aviation, logistics, computing — you name it. And they’ll all require maintenance technicians to some degree. 

Career Growth and Advancement Opportunities

General maintenance technicians require “on-the-job training” and are predicted to grow at about 4%, as fast as the average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the world economy expands to keep up with increasing consumerism, we can only expect maintenance technician positions to keep increasing in years to come. Maintenance technicians with enough experience may eventually be promoted to management positions like supervisors.  

Taking the Next Step Towards a Rewarding Career as Maintenance Technician

Each company’s maintenance technician duties are very different, because each company and industry have their own equipment, some of which is proprietary. Even though the equipment and technology may vary, the skills between the jobs are similar. Understanding the product you’re working with, approaching it with a problem-solving mindset, and being teachable and communicative can help you advance your career. 

When it’s time for you to explore maintenance technician job openings, search our job board.