what is a maintenance engineer?

As a maintenance engineer, you apply engineering concepts to ensure the smooth running of industrial machinery and equipment. Some of the activities include installing, repairing and maintaining different types of equipment. Using specialised equipment, maintenance engineers monitor and diagnose machine failures. In case of breakdowns, it is your job to restore the faulty equipment and ensure optimal performance.

Usually, maintenance engineers use their specialised training for strategic problem solving and guiding technicians to repair problems in the system. Depending on your employer and company size, you are likely to participate in significant installations and maintenance of critical machinery only. The rest of the time, you will take on managerial tasks. However, you are expected to do hands-on work in some companies, like performing generalised repairs and maintenance activities.

A career as a maintenance engineer allows you to work in mechanical repair workshops or companies dealing with machinery and equipment maintenance. Aside from working for consultancy companies, you can work in-house in large factories, manufacturing plants and various industries, including automotive, oil and gas and electronic businesses.

Would working as a maintenance engineer suit your analytical and problem-solving skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a maintenance role.

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average salary of maintenance engineer

According to ONS, the average maintenance engineer salary in the UK is £30,801. At an entry-level position, your base salary starts at £21,000. As you improve your skills and certifications, your salary increases to around £42,000. Aside from the base salary, maintenance engineers also enjoy additional benefits such as healthcare, transport and house allowances. Some employers also provide bonuses at the end of the year.

how to increase your salary as a maintenance engineer

Your compensation package depends on the company you work for and the complexity of your tasks. For instance, large manufacturing plants and factories have complex equipment and machinery that require specialised maintenance or installation. Your employer will pay more when you are handling complex work and need to be on call anytime time of the day in case of system failure.

Your qualifications and experience level also determine your wages. Experienced maintenance engineers earn more due to the additional transferable skills and expertise in dealing with faults and problems in machines. Maintenance engineers with higher qualifications also take up managerial roles, which pay more than technical and hands-on work.

Smiling male on a production site
Smiling male on a production site

types of maintenance engineer

Maintenance engineering is a vast career with various areas of specialisation, including:

  • mechanical maintenance engineer: as a mechanical maintenance engineer, your job involves installing or maintaining mechanical systems and equipment used in industrial, commercial and domestic environments. Your focus is on repairing machines' mechanical and moving parts like lubricating gears and replacing motors and pumps.
  • maintenance technician: as a maintenance technician, you perform the hands-on work during maintenance and repair of machinery. That involves disassembling equipment to remove defective and damaged components and testing whether the repairs were successful.

working as a maintenance engineer

Are you wondering how the workday of a maintenance engineer looks like? Read on to discover the typical duties and responsibilities of the career.

focused female in a production environment
focused female in a production environment

education & skills

If you want to become a maintenance engineer, you should attain relevant academic qualifications such as:

  • apprenticeship: become a maintenance engineer through an apprenticeship that will open up numerous opportunities in the field. For an intermediate apprenticeship, you need GCSEs with Maths and English, while an advanced apprenticeship requires 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 with Maths, English and Science. Aside from course training, you need to gain on-the-job experience of up to 30 hours a week.
  • college: if you want to join college for a maintenance engineering course, do a diploma or certificate course depending on your qualifications. For a Level 2 certificate in mechanical engineering, you need two GCSEs at grades 9 to 4. The entry requirements for the diploma course in Level 3 engineering and maintenance are four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4.
  • university: if you want to pursue a university degree or a Higher National Diploma foundation degree, you need four to five GCSEs and one or two A-Levels. You can do a degree in maintenance engineering or mechanical engineering.

skills and competencies

While you need experience and knowledge of machines in maintenance engineering, soft skills also improve your job success. Some of the skills include:

  • leadership skills: as a maintenance engineer, you are in charge of a technical team, and leadership skills will help you integrate with other staff. Motivating team members and bringing them together to accomplish a task is useful during equipment failure. With your leadership skills, you can also manage stress levels during unfavourable conditions and promote accountability for mistakes made during inspection.
  • problem-solving skills: multiple problems arise when operating equipment and machines. Despite creating procedures for dealing with problems, you cannot exhaust all possible system failure scenarios. You need creative problem-solving skills to tackle issues outside the standard maintenance procedures.
  • attention to details: becoming a good maintenance engineer depends on your ability to pay attention to small details. An error or miscalculation can have serious consequences; hence you should be keen when diagnosing faults in equipment.
  • aptitude for physics: to learn how machines and equipment work, you should have a knack for maths and physics. Sometimes, complex calculations are required to identify faults in a system. Aptitude for physics will also help you understand the schematics of machines from their blueprints and plan to fix the problems.


FAQs about working as a maintenance engineer

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