Maintenance Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 22, 2021

Maintenance skills are important if you're looking for employment as a maintenance worker. You can learn, hone and list these skills on your resume to increase your chances of securing an interview and getting a job. In this article, we discuss what maintenance skills are, how to improve them and the most effective ways to highlight them throughout the job search and interview process.

What are maintenance skills?

Maintenance skills are those used to inspect, diagnose and solve problems with machines or buildings. They're also used to perform basic repairs or take preventative measures to ensure the life and functioning of various types of equipment. To use some maintenance skills, maintenance workers use different hand tools or other gear to accomplish tasks on the job.

Read more: Maintenance Worker Job Description and Position Overview

Examples of maintenance skills

It's helpful when trying to secure employment as a maintenance professional to learn a variety of maintenance skills. There are different types of maintenance skills that can lead to your success within the workplace as a maintenance professional, including:

Technical skills

Technical skills allow you to repair and maintain equipment, machines, buildings and the surrounding grounds. You might use your knowledge about different types of machines and equipment and use specific tools to fix or maintain them.

Interpersonal and communication skills

These skills allow you to interact and collaborate with clients, supervisors and team members. As a maintenance worker, interpersonal and communication skills include clear verbal, non-verbal and written communication, customer service, the ability to follow directions accurately and excellent teamwork skills. Having great communication and interactions with coworkers, supervisors and clients can open up more opportunities for you, especially for advancement and leadership.

Related: 21 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Attention to detail

Paying attention to details is imperative to being a skilled maintenance worker because technical work is often very precise, with little room for mistakes. Also, maintenance work is often fast-paced, requiring someone who is keen enough to quickly troubleshoot the problem and get things running smoothly again.

Problem-solving skills

Maintenance workers need to make quick decisions and solve problems correctly and efficiently. Some repairs might be more complex or challenging than others. It's important to strive to master your diagnostic skills and prepare yourself to come up with more unconventional solutions when needed.

Administrative and organizational skills

Maintenance workers sometimes need to share in administrative tasks, such as invoicing clients, completing paperwork about repairs, ordering materials, securing permits and scheduling. You might also be responsible for developing plans for routine maintenance. Organization can help keep you on-task and keep your schedule and records in order. Maintenance workers can use organization skills to keep client information up-to-date, make sure they are on-time for appointments and have easy access to the correct tools or materials as needed.

Physical ability

Maintenance workers generally need to be physically fit to perform their job well. As a maintenance worker, your responsibilities can include getting into tight spaces, walking on elevated platforms, working in extreme environmental conditions, lifting heavy objects and working long or irregular work hours. It's a good idea to improve your endurance and get or stay healthy if you plan to seek employment in the maintenance industry.

Flexibility and versatility

Being flexible and versatile as a maintenance worker involves adapting quickly, being willing to change and having a diverse skill set to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.

A maintenance worker's responsibilities and priorities can change from day to do. One day you might need to repair drywall, and the next day you might need to assess damage to a certain piece of equipment. Some days might also be more hands-on, while other days you focus on filling out paperwork or scheduling clients. Being flexible during these shifts can make you more productive and satisfied on the job.

Advanced skills

If you're looking to gain an advantage in the maintenance industry, you can acquire advanced skills in one area of specialty. This can get you promoted from general maintenance to the go-to person for a specialized skill set.

Areas of specialty include:

  • Carpentry

  • Plumbing

  • Flooring

  • Painting

  • Masonry

  • Electrical

  • Welding

  • Roofing

  • Machinery

  • Mechanics

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

How to improve your maintenance skills

You can improve your maintenance skills to increase your appeal within the industry, increase your chances at securing employment and receive a variety of growth opportunities. Start by identifying what areas you want to excel in (i.e. carpentry, plumbing or electrical repair). Focus primarily on building that skill set so you can advance to expert status. This can make you more desirable to employers looking to recruit someone with that specific experience and know-how.

Here are some other steps to take:

1. Attend a technical school, trade school or community college

Many technical schools have certificate or degree programs for those seeking training in maintenance or mechanics. Some of these programs are specific to certain trades, like plumbing or HVAC, while others are more general. Studies typically vary between six months to two years, depending on your chosen certificate or degree program, and you may encounter a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on training.

2. Work as an apprentice

Also known as on-the-job training, an apprenticeship is a great way to get hands-on experience as you learn maintenance skills from a senior maintenance professional. You might want to ask for advice on how they improved their expertise and qualified for advancement opportunities. Consider finding companies or organizations that offer apprenticeships for the specialized maintenance skills you want to learn.

3. Find workshops or related training conferences

At workshops and conferences, you can learn advanced and new techniques and knowledge from industry leaders and network with industry professionals. Some workshops or conferences might require a prerequisite level of knowledge or skill to attend and be successful, but these workshops can be useful in helping you advance to the next level of your career.

4. Seek opportunities to apply your skills

Ask friends, family members or neighbors if they need help with repairs. Check nearby organizations and businesses for opportunities to gain experience and learn by doing. Look around your own house as well. Consider offering your skills at no charge or for the cost of materials only as you improve your skills.

Maintenance skills in the workplace

Using maintenance skills in the workplace encompasses a range of hard and soft skills to be successful as a maintenance professional. Some ways in which you might need to apply your maintenance skills in the workplace include:

  • Incorporate administrative tasks into your daily work. Maintenance workers need to fill out paperwork to track repairs. Use your administrative skills to keep track of inventory, obtain permits, decipher blueprints, draw up plans, order supplies or materials and stay on schedule with project deadlines.

  • Get familiar with basic cleaning. Cleaning duties are common for maintenance workers. You might need to help with buffing, dusting, mopping, polishing, or sanitizing machines, various equipment or the inside of buildings. It's helpful to have knowledge of certain chemicals and cleaning supplies you need to use on the job. It's also important to have experience in safety protocols and regulations to avoid hazards and injuries in the workplace.

  • Focus on repairs and maintenance. Maintenance workers make necessary repairs and perform routine maintenance as the primary focus of their job duties. Properly troubleshooting the origin of problems with equipment or operating errors gives you a chance to showcase your understanding of what makes a particular machine work and what tools you need to get the job done. It's also helpful to apply your knowledge to the monitoring and evaluation of the functionality of various machines so you can analyze and maintain quality control.

  • Anticipate needs and practice planning and preparing. Preparation and planning are important for maintenance workers to anticipate ongoing needs and identify problem areas or potential issues with machines and operations. Maintenance workers need to use critical thinking on the job when they approach problems to best identify the strengths and weaknesses of a particular way of doing things and provide relevant solutions as needed.

  • Use sound judgment and decision-making. Maintenance workers might need to consider relative costs and benefits related to decisions made on the job. Sound judgment involves understanding all potential outcomes and weighing any potential risks before formulating a plan.

  • Apply your knowledge. As a maintenance worker, you might use your knowledge in the areas of reading comprehension, math, science, engineering and technology. It's helpful to learn and apply new concepts to the workplace to advance and improve your processes.

  • Learn to communicate and interact effectively. Maintenance workers need to communicate with colleagues, supervisors and clients on the job daily. Learn how to communicate mistakes or ask questions, provide updates or relay changes to clients. You also might need to explain processes to newer or less experienced coworkers. It's important to always be honest, transparent, patient and understanding in all of your communications while at work or representing yourself professionally for your company.

  • Practice teamwork. Maintenance professionals often need to work together, so some ways to be a good team player at work include being flexible and willing to take initiative and actively listening to your teammates. Give them your full attention, take time to understand what they are saying or needing from you, ask questions as needed and follow through.

  • Lead others to success. Leading or supervising others might be a part of your job responsibilities as a maintenance worker. To lead effectively, relay information clearly and guide by example. Even if you aren't in a leadership role, you can keep your leadership skills relevant by encouraging others, taking charge and offering ideas or direction when needed.

How to highlight maintenance skills

It's helpful to highlight your skills effectively throughout your job search to help you secure the interview and the job. You can list maintenance skills on your resume, explain them more in-depth in your cover letter and emphasize them at your interview in the following ways:

Maintenance skills on your resume

Structure your resume in a way that makes your skills stand out, like adding a separate skills section. You can also create a separate list of tools you have experience working with, such as hand tools, electric tools or other specialized machinery.

Also, if the job ad calls for a specific skill set, make sure to address that on your resume. Include any relevant training and experience to further support your skill set.

Read more: 10 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

Maintenance skills on your cover letter

Select one or two skills that are important to the employer as outlined in the job description, such as attention to detail and carpentry, and better explain in your cover letter how you've used those skills in the past. Keep your explanations brief but well-supported with information about your previous experience. For instance, describe in one to two sentences how you used your carpentry skills to assist on a 130-home new construction project.

Related: Maintenance Worker Cover Letter Sample

Maintenance skills at the job interview

Show up to the interview, ready to impress and answer questions about your maintenance skills with examples for each skill you want to highlight. For instance, explain how you led a crew of four men at your previous maintenance job if the employer is looking for someone with leadership skills. Provide specific examples about instances where you provided your team members with guidance or solved potential scheduling problems.

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