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Careers in maintenance

When reading job reviews by maintenance and repair workers, three virtues stand out: autonomy, variety and security. Do you like to set your own hours and work a less-than-traditional schedule? Many maintenance and repair workers are given a wide berth to work independently. Are you trying to avoid a "Groundhog Day" routine? You're in luck, professionals in this field may be called on to fix an electrical problem inside one day and paint shingles outside the next. This vocation also has promising job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the profession to grow by 6 percent by 2024. With the proper training, you could be one of the nearly 1.45 million people earning a paycheck as a maintenance and repair worker before this decade's end. The expected growth translates to more than 83, 500 jobs, with the best opportunities for candidates with prior experience.

The job is not a cakewalk, though. Many of the 'odd jobs' a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It might tackle require knowledge of skilled trades such as carpentry and plumbing. Ted Tenenbaum, owner of a Mr. Handyman franchise serving the Los Angeles area, says "general maintenance and repair workers are like doctors for your home." They should have good problem-solving skills, he adds, and sometimes they need to be creative when a solution isn't so obvious. "Workers should be in good physical shape to endure standing, squatting and stooping for long periods of time, and they must be able to lift heavy objects and work with complex tools." Customer-service skills and computer savvy are useful as well.

Salary

The jack-of-all-trades nature of a maintenance and repair worker's responsibilities doesn't usually translate into serious coin. The median salary for workers in 2014 was $36, 170, while the highest-paid earned about $59, 170 and the lowest-paid made $21, 370. Metropolitan areas that dominate in the pay department for this profession include San Francisco; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

75th Percentile: $47, 250

Median: $36, 170

25th Percentile: $27, 450

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Training

Most people who enter this profession start as apprentices for months or even years before cultivating the expertise to work independently. And when they are ready to do so, they will most likely have to obtain a license. Requirements vary by state, and some demand additional training in electrical and plumbing work. Many companies prefer to hire workers with at least a high school diploma and the lowest level of certification (Certified Maintenance Technician). Tenenbaum says his company prefers to hire people who have worked at least 15 years in skilled trades.

Find Maintenance and Repair Worker Online Degree Programs »

Job Satisfaction

Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that's fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here's how this job's satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.

Upward Mobility: Average
Opportunities for advancements and salary

Stress Level: Below Average
Work environment and complexities of the job's responsibilities

Flexibility: Average
Alternative working schedule and work life balance

Advice From Real Maintenance and Repair Workers »
Source: money.usnews.com
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