General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Summary

general maintenance and repair workers image
Workers use hand tools and power tools to fix appliances and equipment.
Quick Facts: General Maintenance and Repair Workers
2012 Median Pay $35,210 per year
$16.93 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 1,325,100
Job Outlook, 2012-22 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 125,200

What General Maintenance and Repair Workers Do

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

Work Environment

General maintenance and repair workers often carry out many different tasks in a single day. They could work at any number of locations, both indoor and outdoor. 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 college campus.

How to Become a General Maintenance and Repair Worker

Jobs in this occupation 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.

Pay

The median annual wage for general maintenance and repair workers was $35,210 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of general maintenance and repair workers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand will increase as home sales continue to recover.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of general maintenance and repair workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about general maintenance and repair workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What General Maintenance and Repair Workers Do About this section

General maintenance and repair workers
Workers are responsible for the upkeep of many homes and apartment buildings.

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

Duties

General maintenance and repair workers typically do the following:

  • Maintain and repair machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings
  • Troubleshoot and fix faulty electrical switches
  • Inspect and diagnose problems and figure out the best way to correct them
  • Do 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.

They are also responsible for recognizing when a job is above their skill level and requires the expertise of electricians; carpenters; heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers; and plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters.

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.

They 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 About this section

General maintenance and repair workers
Many workers need safety gear when working with certain tools and equipment.

General maintenance and repair workers held about 1.3 million jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most general maintenance and repair workers in 2012 were as follows:

Real estate and rental and leasing19%
Manufacturing15
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals10
Health care and social assistance8
Educational services; state, local, and private8

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 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, work in uncomfortable or cramped positions, or on ladders. The work involves a lot of walking, climbing, and reaching.

Injuries and Illnesses

Workers risk electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises. As a result, general maintenance workers had a rate of injuries and illnesses that is much higher than the national average. 

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

General maintenance and repair workers
Beginners often work under the supervision of more experienced 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 may 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 light bulbs. After gaining experience, general maintenance and repair workers move on to more difficult tasks, such as overhauling machinery or building walls.

Some learn their skills by working as helpers to other types of repair or construction workers, including machinery repairers, carpenters, or electricians.

Because a growing number of new buildings rely on computers to control their systems, general maintenance and repair workers may need to know basic computer skills, such as how to log onto a central computer system and navigate through a series of menus. Companies that install computer-controlled equipment usually give onsite training for general maintenance and repair workers.

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 craft workers, such as electricians, heating and air-conditioning mechanics, or plumbers.

Other maintenance workers open their own repair or contracting business. However, those that 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 technician 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 do tests to figure out the cause of problems before fixing equipment.

Pay About this section

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$38,750

Maintenance and repair workers, general

$35,210

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for general maintenance and repair workers was $35,210 in May 2012. 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 $20,920, and the top 10 percent earned more than $57,260.

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

Job Outlook About this section

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

12%

Total, all occupations

11%

Maintenance and repair workers, general

9%

 

Employment of general maintenance and repair workers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

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

Demographic changes may also 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 population 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.

Because many general maintenance and repair workers are employed in industries related to real estate, 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, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Maintenance and repair workers, general

49-9071 1,325,100 1,450,300 9 125,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of general maintenance and repair workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Boilermakers

Boilermakers

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

High school diploma or equivalent $56,560
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures—such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, and rafters—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,940
Construction managers

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from development to completion.

Bachelor’s degree $82,790
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

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

Postsecondary non-degree award $51,220
Electricians

Electricians

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

High school diploma or equivalent $49,840
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration and mechanics and installers

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

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

Postsecondary non-degree award $43,640
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

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

High school diploma or equivalent $49,140
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, General Maintenance and Repair Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/general-maintenance-and-repair-workers.htm (visited July 23, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014