General Maintenance Mechanics
Education and Training Requirements
Many employers prefer to hire helpers or mechanics who are high school graduates, but a diploma is not always required. High school courses that will prepare you for this occupation include mechanical drawing, metal shop, electrical shop, woodworking, blueprint reading, general science, and applied mathematics. Since computerized systems are increasingly being used to monitor building operations, it's a good idea to also take computer science courses.
Some mechanics learn their skills by working as helpers to people employed in building trades, such as electricians or carpenters. Other mechanics attend trade or vocational schools that teach many of the necessary skills. Becoming fully qualified for a mechanic's job usually requires one to four years of on-the-job training or classroom instruction, or some combination of both.
BOMI International offers a building systems maintenance certificate. Applicants must complete two required courses (Air Handling, Water Treatment, and Plumbing Systems and Energy Management and Controls) and one of the following elective courses: Boilers, Heating Systems, and Applied Mathematics or Refrigeration Systems and Accessories. Other certificates are also available. Contact BOMI International for more information.
Other Education or Training
The Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals offers educational workshops on topics such as equipment reliability, organization and leadership, and work management. The Association for Facilities Engineering, BOMA International, BOMI International, and Mechanical Contractors Association of America also provide continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There are some certification and training programs open to maintenance mechanics. BOMI International, for example, offers the designation of systems maintenance technician (SMT) to applicants who have completed courses in boilers, heating systems, and applied mathematics; refrigeration systems and accessories; air handling, water treatment, and plumbing systems; electrical systems and illumination; and building control systems. Technicians who have achieved SMT status can go on and become certified as systems maintenance administrators by taking further classes in building design and maintenance, energy management, and supervision. BOMI International also offer other certification programs. The Association for Facilities Engineering offers the certified plant engineer, certified professional maintenance manager, and certified plant supervisor designations to applicants who pass an examination and satisfy job experience requirements. The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals offers the certified maintenance and reliability professional certified maintenance and reliability technician designations. While not necessarily required for employment, employees with certification may become more valuable assets to their employers and may have better chances at advancement.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
You will need to complete one to four years of on-the-job experience or classroom instruction, or some combination of both, to become fully qualified for a mechanic's job.
General maintenance mechanics need to have good manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude. People who enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together are good candidates for this position. Since some of the work, such as reaching, squatting, and lifting, requires physical strength and stamina, reasonably good health is necessary. Mechanics also need the ability to analyze and solve problems and to work effectively on their own without constant supervision.