Maintenance Worker Skills: Definition and Examples
A maintenance worker is a property maintenance professional who may work as an independent contractor, for an agency, or for a single landlord or property firm. They have skills across a wide range of trades, such as basic carpentry, plumbing, minor electrical wiring and property maintenance. More experience and advanced skills may increase your employment opportunities as a maintenance worker, historically known as a handyman.
In this article, we discuss basic maintenance worker skills, identify ways to improve them and explain how to write a resume that highlights necessary skill sets for applying to maintenance jobs.
What are maintenance worker skills?
Maintenance skills refer to the varied set of abilities a maintenance worker uses for the general maintenance, repair and improvement of a property. Common skills include appliance installation, carpentry, basic plumbing, minor electrical wiring, maintenance and renovation. Over time, maintenance workers can improve these skills and gain new ones through vocational training, apprenticing, self-directed study and continued work experience.
Examples of basic handyman skills
The following are some common skills maintenance workers often have:
Basic carpentry skills required of a maintenance worker involve finding studs, installing cabinets, building shelves, anchoring bookcases and repairing broken furniture. Unlike other trades, carpentry rarely requires a license, therefore many maintenance workers expand on their carpentry skills enough to complete larger projects themselves. These larger projects include cabinet making, building decks and porches and even small home extensions and remodels.
Elementary plumbing duties involve fixing a running toilet, replacing a wax seal, unclogging drains and snaking drains. Basic plumbing may also include more complex work, like replacing a water heater or shutting off the water supply to remove and replace damaged pipes.
Electrical work can be dangerous and may require a qualified professional. However, there are some simple related tasks a maintenance worker should be able to complete. Electrical tasks you may be responsible for in a maintenance position include locating and using a fuse box, resetting breakers, replacing light switches or installing light fixtures.
Appliance installation and repair
Hooking up and maintaining common appliances like washers, dryers and dishwashers are typical maintenance worker jobs and require a mix of plumbing, electrical, small motor and carpentry skills.
Interior and exterior property maintenance
Property maintenance is a broad category and may include anything from routine chores such as cleaning to more complicated tasks like waxing floors, spackling and repainting worn or damaged walls or removing and replacing flooring and carpeting. Exterior maintenance may involve landscape upkeep, cleaning gutters and filling cracks and potholes on paved surfaces.
How to improve maintenance worker skills
Maintenance workers can improve on basic skills through experience, vocational training or apprenticeships. Having a wider skill set and expertise increases the number of jobs for which you are qualified. Larger, more complicated tasks, like full kitchen and bathroom remodels, also offer greater economic benefits. To improve your maintenance worker skills, consider taking these steps:
1. Enroll in a training course
Vocational schools and community colleges have many options for learning and improving various kinds of maintenance skills. You can find the course catalog of a school near you on their website or in person at the admissions office. A classroom setting is a good opportunity to learn from a professional instructor, make connections with others in your field and have access to equipment and materials. Identify specific trades you'd like to improve on, like welding or electrical wiring, and take an introductory class.
2. Apprentice with an experienced maintenance worker
An apprenticeship is a period when a novice follows an experienced maintenance professional to learn from them as they work. This method of learning can be especially beneficial as it provides experience, education and income. You can arrange an apprenticeship on your own by calling senior maintenance professionals in your area and asking if they will mentor you or you may find apprenticeships advertised online.
3. Find resources for self-directed study
There are many resources for self-motivated maintenance workers to learn and improve their skills on their own. Consider self-directed study for a cost-effective solution that allows you to pick your areas of interest and solve specific problems as they arise while working. You can find written manuals, online articles or instructional videos that cover every skill necessary, from beginner to advanced levels of competency.
4. Gain work experience
Over time, your skills may improve through work experience alone. You can become a more competent maintenance professional through the daily practice of your skills and problem solving to gain new ones. To learn through experience, consider taking simpler jobs when beginning your career until you feel comfortable with more challenging tasks.
Maintenance worker skills in the workplace
While maintenance duties include many manual tasks, there are some workplace skills required. Here are some additional maintenance worker skills for the workplace:
Record keeping: It is necessary for any business to produce and keep accurate records. For a maintenance worker, this will require organizing receipts, writing invoices, applying for permits and keeping before and after pictures of your projects.
Driving: Whether going between clients, picking up equipment or filing permits, a maintenance worker will typically need a valid driver's license and their own vehicle.
Interpersonal skills: Maintenance workers need to communicate effectively with clients and other tradesmen. They should know how to maintain professional relationships and make clients feel comfortable trusting them with their property unsupervised.
How to highlight maintenance worker skills
Knowing how to communicate your skills on your resume is important in demonstrating competence and experience. Many related careers, like apartment super, groundskeeper and facilities manager, require maintenance worker skills. Knowing how to list your skills helps employers identify you as a good prospective employee.
Maintenance worker skills for a resume
To highlight maintenance worker skills on your resume, begin by making a list of your practical skills. Include examples when talking about a broad skill category to better illustrate your abilities. It is important to research your potential client or employer to identify what their specific needs are and prioritize your corresponding skills on your resume. For instance, an apartment complex manager may prefer a maintenance professional who shows a wide variety of basic maintenance skills over one who seems to specialize in only a few areas. You may want to include the following skill categories on your resume:
Minor electrical repair and wiring: Because electrical work can be dangerous and may require a license, be clear about your experience and what you feel comfortable doing.
Large appliance installation and repair: Remember to be specific with examples, like HVAC or water heater repair.
Carpentry: It is impractical to list every basic carpentry skill, like finding a stud or using a saw. Instead, list a few examples of carpentry jobs you've completed that show multiple skills at once.
Plumbing: There are many basic to intermediate plumbing skills expected of maintenance workers, however, like electrical work, advanced plumbing jobs may require licensed professionals. Be clear and accurate when describing your skill level and experience. Always include examples when possible.
Material specific skills: When describing your competencies as a maintenance professional, you may list specific materials with which you are familiar. For example, cement mixing and pouring, grout and caulk application or staining and sealing.
Equipment or tool-specific skills: Some tools and equipment, like small excavators and track loaders, require experience to operate properly. You can include these on your resume.
Transferable skills: Transferable skills apply across multiple job fields and describe an individual's work style. These include things like being organized, adaptable and dependable.
Maintenance worker skills for the job interview
Besides writing a resume, you may have to undergo a job interview with your prospective client or employer. This is an opportunity to offer examples of your skills in action and showcase their results. Talk about a recent project you've completed that combined multiple skills, was especially challenging and had an excellent result. Show before-and-after pictures to support your claims.
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