Engineering Maintenance Fitter

The Job and What's Involved

Engineering maintenance fitters make sure that machinery and equipment runs efficiently by carrying out routine maintenance and diagnosing and repairing faults.

Complex modern industrial plants depend on carefully planned maintenance. This avoids expensive shut-downs that can bring production to a halt and result in large numbers of staff being unable to work.

In other industries, especially high-risk sectors such as nuclear, petrochemical, transport and aviation, failure to maintain equipment can result in serious loss of life and equipment.

Fitters might work on mechanical, electrical, electronic or pneumatic machinery, including:

  • Manufacturing equipment in factories and on production lines.
  • Transport equipment and machinery.
  • Office and laboratory equipment.
  • Aircraft maintenance equipment.

Maintenance fitters usually specialise in one engineering discipline, but should also be familiar with the mechanical, electrical and electronic operations of the machinery they are responsible for. Their work falls into one of two areas - planned or preventative maintenance, and emergency maintenance.

Planned or Preventative Maintenance involves:

  • Making regular checks on machinery according to a planned schedule.
  • Regular maintenance work such as oiling and cleaning.
  • Replacing parts on a planned basis after a certain number of hours.
  • Checking and calibrating equipment to make sure it is accurate.

Emergency Maintenance involves:

  • Fixing faults as soon as they happen.
  • Using in-depth knowledge of the machinery to diagnose faults.
  • Being available for urgent calls at all times.

Fitters might have to use technical manuals or diagrams to help locate a fault. They also use a wide range of tools and testing equipment. They need to take safety precautions when working with dangerous substances or machinery.

Fitters are likely to work with a range of other engineering staff, and with people such as production and plant managers.

Most maintenance fitters work 37 to 39 hours a week, over five days. They often work shifts and overtime. Fitters may be on call, usually on a rota basis, and have to respond quickly should machinery break down.

Fitters may work indoors in a factory or production plant, or outdoors, repairing equipment on a building site.

They wear protective clothing such as overalls, boots, gloves and masks. Fitters are provided with specialist tools and equipment to do the job.

They might be based at one site, or may travel around to different sites. Fitters who work on contract for several employers may require a driving licence.

Starting salaries for Apprentices may range from around £9,000 to £13,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are nearly 1.5 million people in the UK working in engineering-related jobs, and there is a steady demand for experienced fitters.

Most maintenance fitters work for production or manufacturing companies, engineering companies, public utilities (such as water and electricity), transport companies and airlines. There is a high proportion of smaller engineering companies that may have just a few staff.

Maintenance fitters may work for a large company on their own premises, or for a supplier of equipment, carrying out contract work. They could also be self-employed.

Vacancies may be advertised in the local and national press, Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices. The website, www.iet.org.uk, has a search facility for engineering jobs, and there are many other websites, such as www.thecareerengineer.com, that specialise in engineering vacancies.

Education and Training

Most people start as Apprentices straight from school or college and train on the job.

It is possible to become an Apprentice without formal qualifications. Most companies ask for some GCSE's/S grades, or the equivalent, so they know that new starters will be able to cope with Apprenticeship training.

Some schools, in partnership with employers, colleges and group training associations, offer a Young Apprenticeship that starts at school at the age of 14.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

There are also many full and part-time college courses, including:

  • NVQ/SVQ in Maintenance and Installation at Level 2.
  • NVQ/SVQ in Maintenance at Level 2 and 3.
  • NVQ/SVQ in Engineering Technical Support at Level 3.
  • NVQ/SVQ in Aircraft Engineering Maintenance at Level 2 and 3.
  • NVQ/SVQ in Electrical and Electronic Servicing at Level 2 and 3.
  • BTEC First Certificate in Engineering.
  • BTEC First Diploma in Operations and Maintenance Engineering.
  • BTEC National Certificate or National Diploma in Operations and Maintenance Engineering.

Level 3 qualifications have to be taken on an employer's premises.

A Diploma will help you make a more informed choice about the type of learning that best suits you and about what kind of work or further study you may want to do afterwards.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is mostly on the job, under the supervision of an experienced colleague.

Apprenticeships combine work-based training with day or block release at a college or a training centre. They may last for three or four years.

Many companies aim to train multiskilled craftspeople rather than specialists, so individuals may learn fabrication skills (welding and metalwork) as well as machining and fitting. Trainees may then go on to specialise in one type of maintenance fitting, which might be mechanical, electrical or electronic.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Engineering maintenance fitters should:

  • Be good at working with their hands and using tools.
  • Be good at solving problems.
  • Understand technical diagrams and manuals.
  • Be able to write reports and keep records of their work.
  • Be able to work well alone and as part of a team.
  • Be able to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines.
  • Be conscious of health and safety.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, fitters could be promoted to supervisor or engineering maintenance technician, with responsibility for a team of fitters.

By taking extra qualifications, they could become maintenance or plant engineers. These jobs may lead to more senior management positions and incorporated or chartered engineer status.

There are opportunities to work abroad for multinational companies.

Get Further Information

Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB),
Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP
Tel: 01923 260000
Website: www.ecitb.org.uk

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),
Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL
Tel: 020 7240 1871
Website: www.theiet.org

SEMTA (Science, Engineering, manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 01923 238441
Website: www.semta.org.uk

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