What is the Career Route for Maintenance Engineers? 

Chloe Scarano

Want to know the typical Maintenance Engineer career? You’ve got this far so guessing that’s a yes! We’ve summarised each level of progression for you to have all the crucial details in one place.

So, if you’re looking for what progression routes are out there, what skills/qualifications you need to get to each level, how much you can earn in each position and how long it’ll take you to move up – we’ve got you covered. From an entry-level Maintenance Engineer, all the way up to manager level.

Newly Qualified Maintenance Engineer

How do I become a newly qualified Maintenance Engineer?

Most Maintenance Engineers start their career by completing an apprenticeship in the relevant field. A lot of the time, you’ll need a level 3 diploma in maintenance engineering (which usually takes 3-5 years to complete), from a BTEC up to HNC/D and degree level. Completing this apprenticeship means you can start applying for entry level Maintenance Engineer jobs. 

An apprenticeship is the most appropriate route if you’re wanting to become a Maintenance Engineer. It allows you to get the hands on experience that businesses want, as without this, you’ll find your job options are more limited. 

So, you’ve made it into your first maintenance engineering job. Even though you’re technically qualified, when you start working, you’ll be learning a lot as you go. It’s about getting a wealth of practical experience to be able to progress. 

How much can I earn once I’ve qualified? 

Typically, once you’re qualified, you’ll be on a similar salary to your peers. However, those who are more experienced will earn higher than you. You can find your earnings between £28,000 and £35,000. But some employers may offer more than this. It’s tricky establishing an average salary for entry level engineers when everyone is paid differently depending on the business and how much current Maintenance Engineers are on.  

Maintenance Engineer Career Progression

Maintenance Engineer 

The average salary for a Maintenance Engineer in the UK is £37,620. 

Once you’ve worked your first 2-3 years as a Maintenance Engineer, you’ll typically be out of the newly qualified category. Apprentices usually move into a multi-skilled role, where they’ll apply the skills they’ve learnt and choose to either stay as multi-skilled or home in on mechanical or electrical knowledge. Once you’re in the qualified Maintenance Engineer stage, you’ll generally need to work at this level between 4 and 7 years before you can progress into higher roles. 

What does a Maintenance Engineer do? 

As a general maintenance engineer, you’ll be working as a reactive/PPM engineer. This involves responding to breakdowns and failures on site and carrying out preventative maintenance on equipment, machinery, systems and infrastructures to maintain a safe and efficient working environment. The main aspects of the job are ensuring the continuous running of all equipment, where you’ll schedule regular checks and services. 

Can I specialise as a Maintenance Engineer? 

This job title can come with pay rises depending on performance and specialism. And there are options to specialise for maintenance engineers, you can go down the electrical/mechanical or multi-skilled bias route. If you choose to specialise, you may be more likely to earn more. 

Many job openings out there are wanting an engineer who is multi-skilled, but this can come in variations. For example, an engineer could be multi-skilled but sway more one way than the other, being 70:30 and more skilled in mechanical. If you choose to specialise, there’s the potential to make more money. Essentially, the more skilled you are, the more money you can make. 

If you’re looking for a Maintenance Engineer job, make sure you get ALL your skills down. We’ve created templates you can use to style your CV with relevant information. This is the template for newly qualified maintenance engineers, and this is the CV template for Multi-Skilled maintenance engineers.

Senior/Team Leader 

Senior maintenance engineers or Team Leaders earn on average £40,551 in the UK. Again, it varies but engineers at this level have the opportunity to earn a lot more. 

How can I progress to a Maintenance Engineer Team Leader? 

After getting some experience under your belt, if you’re wanting more of a voice in the way your team works and managing people, you can apply for Senior/Team Leader roles.  

But it’s important to gain the experience as a maintenance engineer first. This way, you’ll understand how the team works, and will have experienced a similar environment to the engineers you’ll be leading. And, if you’ve progressed within the same company, you’ll already know the strengths and weaknesses of your engineers.  

Some of the time, engineers can feel frustrated and misunderstood when the people managing them have come straight into that level and have little or no experience as a maintenance engineer. Which then leads to friction in the team and potential for push back.  

What does a Maintenance Engineer Team Leader do? 

As a Maintenance Engineer Team Leader, you’ll often be given responsibility of a section of the facilities. Making sure the maintenance is being kept on top of, communicating with the team, delegating tasks, supporting them with training and development. You’ll also need to work with the Maintenance Manager, liaising with them will be a big part of the role. 

Maintenance Engineering Manager  

In this job title, the average salary is at £66,786 and can reach up to £80,000 or more. 

The highest level you can progress to as a Maintenance Engineer, is managerial level. There’s a lot of room for progression at this level. You can start managing a small team and work your way up to managing the maintenance of an entire site.  

How do I become a Maintenance Engineering Manager? 

If you’re thinking of working your way up to a manager role, you’ll need experience in maintenance engineering or similar engineering roles. It typically takes around 10 years of experience for you to be considered for a Maintenance Engineering Manager role. And you’ll need a blend of electrical and mechanical expertise. Sometimes businesses will ask for you to have experience in a leadership role, where you can demonstrate the skills of team management, but this differs on a case by case basis.  

Maintenance Engineering Managers are responsible for managing a bigger team of engineers and need to ensure the upkeep of all the equipment and safe ways of working and environments to maximise efficiencies and maintain appropriate health and safety on the site. The good thing about Maintenance Manager jobs, is that there’s such a range of roles within them, and each one differs.  

You could be overseeing business aspects such as budgeting, recruitment and/or training. So, for this level, you’ll need a good understanding of the ins and outs of business, be able to multitask, and are well organised and motivated to do the best for your team and the company. 

How can you progress your Maintenance Engineer Career? 

In general, you can progress up into each level by improving your transferable skills. As you become a better engineer, yes you’ll be more familiar with the tasks and will have more knowledge, but you’ll have also improved your personal skills. These can be problem solving, communication (verbal and written), teamwork, critical thinking, innovation and more. This comes from extra training and work in your own time. If you put in lots of overtime and assist with planned maintenance scheduling where possible, it looks good to managers. 

By doing this, you’ll become a better engineer and will find it easier to progress through the ranks. Upskilling is another way of speeding up the progression opportunities. The more training you can get, the better. 

What courses can I do to upskill? 

Some courses that are highly valued in the current market are PLC’s. If you manage to gain this qualification, make sure you’re practising it. Too often engineers have this knowledge and fail to give examples of working on them. But it’s sought after and most sites need at least one engineer with a PLC qualification. The more experienced you are in dealing with it, the likelier you are to be promoted. 

Don’t forget to keep in mind that it’s more likely for progression to occur when you stay in the same company. If the managers have seen how hard you work and your positive attitude, they’ll be more inclined to promote you. 

In summary 

The engineers who are fortunate enough to make it to Manager in a few years, are the ones who have shown their commitment and positive mindset towards the job and the big picture. Ultimately, this has been a summary. Progressing into each role varies from business to business and salaries and experience required differs depending on the role, team and business. If you have the right mindset and attitude, you can progress up the ranks quicker. 

The experts behind this blog 

So, who wrote this blog? And where did we get the information? Well, our Marketing team are experts in writing blog content and have put this together using knowledge from 2 of our recruitment specialists. Both Matt Morson and Jonny Gardner helped with providing information they’ve learnt from their years of experience.

Matt, our Senior Engineering Recruitment Consultant shared what he’d seen from engineers moving through their Maintenance Engineering careers and how they’d gone about achieving this. Similarly, with Jonny, our Recruitment Engineering Manager, who shared what makes an engineer good enough to be able to progress. Both of which, Matt and Jonny deal with day in day out, so know a lot about Maintenance Engineer career progression! 

All salary information was gathered from Indeed and Glassdoor. If you’re wanting salary insights for Maintenance Engineers in your area – we have collected data in Warwickshire, West Midlands and Leeds. At the minute, we’re collating data for Q1 in these areas and more, so keep your eyes peeled!

*Salaries updated June 14th 2023