General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What General Maintenance and Repair Workers Do[About this section] [To Top]

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.

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 plaster or drywall. They may fix or paint roofs, windows, doors, floors, woodwork, 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 repair 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[About this section] [To Top]

General maintenance and repair workers held about 1.4 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most general maintenance and repair workers were as follows:

Real estate and rental and leasing 20%
Manufacturing 14
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 10
Healthcare and social assistance 8
Educational services; state, local, and private 8

General maintenance and repair workers often carry out many different tasks in a single day at any number of locations. They may work inside a single building, such as a hotel or hospital, or be responsible for the maintenance of many buildings, such as those in an apartment complex or on a college campus.

General maintenance and repair workers may have to stand for long periods or lift heavy objects. These workers may work in uncomfortably hot or cold environments, in uncomfortable or cramped positions, or on ladders. The work involves a lot of walking, climbing, and reaching.

Injuries and Illnesses

General maintenance workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Workers risk electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises.

General Maintenance and Repair Worker Work Schedules

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

How to Become a General Maintenance and Repair Worker[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for General Maintenance and Repair Workers near you!

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.

General Maintenance and Repair Worker 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.

General Maintenance and Repair Worker 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 repairers, carpenters, 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 for General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Some maintenance and repair workers decide to train in one specific craft and become craftworkers, such as electricians, heating 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 for General Maintenance and Repair Workers

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.

General Maintenance and Repair Worker Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for general maintenance and repair workers was $36,630 in May 2015. 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 $21,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,060.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for general maintenance and repair workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $42,810
Educational services; state, local, and private 38,730
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 38,380
Healthcare and social assistance 36,040
Real estate and rental and leasing 33,500

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[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of general maintenance and repair workers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment will increase as the real estate market continues to improve. Increasing home prices and sales may drive demand for remodeling and maintenance work. In addition, maintenance and repair workers will continue to be needed to upgrade and renovate older homes and the large inventory of foreclosed and distressed properties caused by the most recent recession.

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 following 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.

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.

General Maintenance and Repair Workers 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.

In addition, because many workers left the construction and maintenance industry during the most recent recession, overall job prospects for general maintenance and repair workers should be good over the coming decade as construction, maintenance, and remodeling activity continues to rebound.

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, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Maintenance and repair workers, general 1,374,700 1,458,100 6 83,500


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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