How to Become a Maintenance Engineer

Step-By-Step Career Path Guide

Although there are other paths to take, a common and effective way to become a maintenance engineer is to follow these essential steps:



1. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work


2. Succeed at Math, Physics, Chemistry and Design Studies in high school


3. Pursue a bachelor’s degree related to Mechanical Engineering 


4. Get work experience as a student via internship and co-op opportunities 


5. Get a job as an engineer-in-training after graduation


6. Earn “Professional Engineer” status


7. Advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay, or into roles in related fields


Below we've expanded on these points, to give you a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a maintenance engineer in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful occupational information, such as what you’ll be doing, what you could earn, and actual job postings in your area!



What Education Will I Need?

To get hired as an engineer-in-training in an equipment maintenance capacity, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or a related field. Some employers might require a master’s or doctoral degree, particularly for research or teaching positions.





What is a Maintenance Engineer?

Maintenance engineers oversee, manage and maintain industrial machinery and equipment. It’s their job to ensure that all machinery and equipment is reliable and runs efficiently.


Their role could involve anything from diagnosing faults and ordering parts, to scheduling and carrying out regular maintenance and dealing with budgeting. 



What Does a Maintenance Engineer Do?

Although their job is always based around ensuring all machines and pieces of equipment are functioning safely and efficiently, their specific duties can vary. In general however, they typically carry out the following functions:


• Developing and documenting maintenance strategies and processes

• Planning and scheduling maintenance-related work and associated personnel

• Identifying the causes of costly breakdowns

• Performing process quality inspections

• Overseeing the procurement of fixtures, equipment, components and supplies

• Overseeing maintenance expenditures

• Overseeing the ongoing improvement of procedures and methods

• Preparing reports for management and colleagues



What Experience Will I Need?

Engineer-in-training jobs don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of an internship while completing your engineering degree.


Mid and senior-level roles often require 3-5 years of experience working in lower level roles, with progressive amounts of responsibility in those roles, as well as Professional Engineer certification. 



What Licensure/Certification Will I Need?

You will need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (“PE” - United States; “P.Eng.” - Canada) in order to exercise direct control of a public project and to supervise other engineers and engineering technicians.


You will also need to have the PE/P.Eng. designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly.


You won't need to have the Professional Engineer designation to be hired on as an engineer-in-training, which involves working under the supervision of a licensed engineer.



How to Become Licensed

Licensing requirements typically involve completion of an engineering degree, completion of a set number of supervised working hours, and passing an exam.


However, these requirements can vary, so please contact your provincial/state engineering association for full details on becoming licensed.



What Courses Should I Take in High School?

Excelling at math (calculus, algebra & geometry), chemistry, physics, and design studies, will serve as excellent preparation for this career while you’re a high school student. Be sure to do well in these areas if you have the opportunity to take any of these courses. 


Success Tip: Excelling at coursework in these areas will help prepare you for the work involved in this career at an early age, and will help you qualify for engineering degree programs!





Should I Become a Maintenance Engineer? 

If you have the following personal traits you'll not only be well suited for work as a maintenance engineer, you’ll be a standout:


• You have a natural aptitude, and keen interest in math, physics and engineering

• You thoroughly enjoy isolating individual problem areas to solve problems

• You enjoy performing work that require precision and attention to detail

• You enjoy fixing equipment, and take pride in your abilities to do so

• You’re willing to learn to live by your employers’ values and codes of conduct

• You have an understanding of the importance of following health & safety protocols 

• You can respect the danger inherent in this profession, but it’s not a deterrent

• You have an awareness that budget constraints are a reality in the business world, and can work with such challenges

• You’re willing to stay ahead of the curve and seek out new assignments and opportunities to learn new technologies



What is the Salary of a Maintenance Engineer?

Maintenance Engineers (as part of the “Mechanical Engineers” group) earn a median salary of $87,370 per year in the United States. Their salary can vary based on factors such as their level of experience, the amount of responsibility inherent in their job, the size and type of their employer, the region in which they work, and other factors. 



More About Salary Levels

As mentioned above, the salary level you could earn as a maintenance engineer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors


Maintenance Engineer Salary in Alberta: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the “Mechanical Engineer” occupational group is $97,209 per year.


Salary - British Columbia: According to WorkBC (Province of British Columbia), those working in the “Mechanical engineers” occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $88,005.


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “Mechanical Engineers” occupational group is $87,370 per year.



Who Employs Maintenance Engineers?

There are a number of places maintenance engineers can typically find employment, including:


• Aerospace and automotive companies

• Electronics and IT engineering companies 

• Energy utilities 

• Engineering construction companies 

• Engineering consultancies

• Government agencies (all levels)

• Medical engineering firms and consultancies

• Oil, gas, mining and petrochemical companies

• Research agencies

• The armed forces

• Colleges and universities 

• Manufacturers 

• Equipment and machinery repair companies

• Transport companies (including roads and railways)



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "maintenance engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia:



What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you’re willing to constantly learn and improve your craft and expand your knowledge, then you'll see plenty of career advancement opportunities.


With a proven track record of success you could move into roles of greater responsibility and pay, including project engineer or project manager, or become self-employed as an engineering consultant.


You might also choose to apply the specialized knowledge you’ve developed in a particular area by becoming a technical expert in that area, or a technical sales engineer. 


As you gain a wider understanding of the business functions of your organization, you could potentially move into management and executive-level roles in areas such as marketing, supply chain management, human resources, finance and IT.


With an M.Eng. or Ph.D. degree, you could also potentially work in research or teaching positions at the university or college level.



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as "maintenance engineer”:


• Aircraft Performance Engineer

• Automotive Engineer

• Maintenance Manager

• Mechanical Drafter

• Mechanical Engineer

• Military Engineer

• Reliability Engineer

• Technical Sales Engineer



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Maintenance Engineers? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a maintenance engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships" page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about this profession:


• Job Profile: “Maintenance Engineer.” AGCAS editors (February, 2015). Prospects. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

• Career Guides: “How to Become a Maintenance Engineer.” Amber Rolfe (February, 2015). Reed. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

• Occupations in Alberta: “Mechanical Engineer.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 23, 2020.

• Architecture and Engineering: “Mechanical Engineers.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved February 23, 2020.

• Explore Careers: “Mechanical Engineers.” (January 24, 2018). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved February 23, 2020.


Please Note: Some information for this career guide has also been gathered from actual job postings, which due to their brief online nature aren’t listed here as a reference.



Relevant University Majors

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a maintenance engineer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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