Building Maintenance Training Programs and Requirements

Whether a light bulb is burned out, the air conditioning unit is pumping poorly, the toilets are backed up or a minor electrical problem has presented itself, building maintenance workers need to be prepared to address a variety of issues. Both formal and on-the-job building maintenance training programs prepare individuals to do just that.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

To ensure that all of a building's systems are running smoothly, building maintenance workers must have practical skills in many areas to accomplish regularly scheduled repairs and modifications as well as emergency work as needed. Building maintenance training programs might include heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) troubleshooting and repair, plumbing, minor electrical work, appliance maintenance, blueprint reading and carpentry.

Building maintenance professionals should also be comfortable performing physical tasks when working with hand and power tools while climbing ladders or scaffolding. While many community colleges offer courses and certificates in building maintenance, training is frequently achieved on the job with most positions requiring only a high school diploma.

Most building maintenance workers learn the skills of the trade by working closely with and shadowing professionals in the maintenance and repair industry. Their job assignments usually begin with simple tasks like changing light bulbs or repairing leaky faucets before proceeding to more advanced maintenance tasks that may include servicing HVAC systems or repairing electrical components. Building maintenance workers will usually train under a professional for a minimum of one year before being considered fully qualified as professionals themselves.

Formal Education

Formal building maintenance training programs are most often offered at trade schools and community colleges. Lasting anywhere from 1-2 years in length, training programs prepare individuals for entry-level maintenance positions with apartment complexes, hotels, healthcare facilities, schools and small commercial buildings, among others.

Building Maintenance Certificate

Building maintenance students acquire basic skills sets in electricity, plumbing, carpentry, heating and air condition maintenance. Students are also introduced to small appliance repair as well as maintenance safety issues and procedures. Through both classroom study and hands-on instruction, students learn the skills needed to gain entry-level employment in the industry.

Facilities Management Certificate

A more advanced training program, facilities management certificates are typically offered through professional development and continuing education divisions at major universities and colleges. This type of certificate is designed for professionals with experience in building maintenance, management or a combination at all levels. Course topics include building systems and technology, facility operations and management, building maintenance, energy management and HVAC system design. Most programs design their curriculum to meet the nine competencies required for certification through the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA).

Job Experience

Because many of the entry-level positions within the field provide preliminary on-the-job training, little to no previous work experience is needed. More advanced positions, such as lead maintenance technician or facility manager, typically require 1-2 years of job experience or a combination of formal training and hands-on experience. Professionals seeking facility management positions with large commercial buildings often need more than five years or experience.

Licenses and Certifications

Licensure requirements for building maintenance professionals vary from state to state and are commonly needed for those working in the specialty areas of plumbing and electrical work. Although not required for employment, a variety of certifications are also available for building maintenance professionals to demonstrate their skill level and maintenance proficiencies. The most widely accepted certifications are offered through the International Maintenance Institute (IMI).

IMI Certifications

The IMI offers the certified maintenance technician credential at three different levels as well as designations as a certified maintenance professional or certified maintenance manager. IMI certifications are valid for two years and require a number of continuing education credits for renewal.

Additional Professional Development

As technology advances, so do the computerized control systems installed in newer buildings to control building temperatures, timed lighting schedules and energy efficiencies. Because of this, there is a growing need for building maintenance professionals to develop basic computer skills in order to navigate through computer-controlled equipment. Building maintenance workers should also be able to perform physical tasks, possess manual dexterity and be able to perform basic mathematical operations.

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