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Maintenance engineers undertake scheduled and breakdown maintenance of engineering equipment or plants.

Maintenance engineers’ work involves checking, repairing and servicing machinery, equipment, systems and infrastructures.

What does a maintenance engineer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Maintenance engineers ensure that industrial machinery and equipment runs smoothly and reliably.

Their work typically involves:

  • planning and undertaking scheduled maintenance
  • responding to breakdowns
  • diagnosing faults
  • repairing equipment
  • supervising engineering and technical staff
  • obtaining specialist components, fixtures or fittings
  • managing budgets
  • maintaining statistical and financial records
  • ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation
  • creating maintenance procedures
  • managing stocks of supplies and equipment.

Shift and 'on-call' work may be required, particularly where manufacturing equipment is in continual 24-hour operation. Career progression is often accelerated; maintenance engineers have opportunities to move into managerial positions or related areas of employment such as plant/production engineering.

Typical employers of maintenance engineers

  • Manufacturing, construction and process companies (for example food and drink manufacturers)
  • Utilities companies
  • Local authorities
  • Government agencies
  • The armed forces
  • Research facilities
  • Consultancies

Self-employment via contract work, and occasionally consultancy, is possible for individuals with several years' experience.

Jobs are advertised online, by careers services, by recruitment agencies, in newspapers and in relevant publications including TARGETjobs Engineering, The Engineer and their respective websites.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this career for both school leavers and university graduates. Graduates will need a degree in a relevant engineering discipline such as mechanical, manufacturing, electrical or electronic engineering. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council’s website. Some employers will ask for a 2.1 degree but others will accept candidates with a 2.2 degree. Take a look at our list of engineering employers that accept 2.2 degrees.

Many employers offer final-year project work, sponsorship, vacation work and sandwich year placements. Take a look at our list of engineering employers who offer industrial placements and summer internships.

School leavers can enter the profession with a higher national diploma (HND) or an advanced or higher apprenticeship in an appropriate subject such as manufacturing or mechanical engineering.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at our guide to chartership.

Key skills for maintenance engineers

  • An ability to work well under pressure
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Relevant technical knowledge
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Efficiency and organisation
  • Teamworking skills

Read our article on the skills engineering employers look for for more information and then find out how you can prove you possess these competencies at engineering assessment centres.

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This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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