How Do I Become a Director of Maintenance?

Behind the day-to-day operations, the routine checkups, the last-minute fixes and on-the-go adaptations — in short, behind the curtain of everything that keeps a hotel running smoothly is the Director of Maintenance, also called the Director of Facilities. From minor mechanical malfunctions to big-picture construction plans, the Director of Maintenance is in charge of everything involving the physical property on a daily basis, plus facility budgets, long-term property management, and more.

In general, the position requires an undergraduate or graduate degree — ideally a bachelor’s or master’s in hospitality management — but neither track is mandatory, and there are multiple career routes. Below is a handy but in-exhaustive rundown of maintenance director types, career route pros and cons, projected salaries, responsibilities, and essential skills.

Director of Maintenance Job Description

  • Directs the design, planning, construction, and maintenance of all hotel facilities and properties
  • Oversees day-to-day functioning of building systems, including electrical, fire safety, mechanical, plumbing, and waste management
  • Develops, manages, and monitors a facility’s budgets and contracts
  • Plans and creates strategy for long-term property management, aligning with needs, company growth, and executive management growth strategy
  • Oversees independent facility contractors and delivery of services
  • Ensures hotel and hotel properties are in compliance with all local zoning laws and regulations
  • Collaborates with senior and executive hotel management, and oversees all maintenance department employees, including hiring and promotions responsibilities

Salary and Job Prospects for Directors of Maintenance

The median salary for a Director of Maintenance is about $115k, and most experts predict a strong job market over the next decade. Occupations for Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners are expected to grow 10 percent, and leisure and hospitality continues to be one of the biggest employment sectors in the country.

A few hospitality-related statistics are especially notable for current or aspiring maintenance directors: Event planning contributes $106 billion to annual US GDP, and global hotel revenue reached $550 billion in 2016; in 2012 the number of international tourist arrivals exceeded one billion for the first time, and annually travel & tourism makes a global economic impact of around $6.5 trillion.

All of that data signifies a healthy job market, and while some hospitality jobs may be lost to automation in the future (as in other industries), the Director of Maintenance role is unlikely to change given its dependence on face-to-face interactions, team/personnel management, and overall strategy.

Types of Director of Maintenance Positions

As previously stated, there are several different types of maintenance director roles, including different titles and responsibilities depending on the organization.

For instance, a Director of Facilities may oversee a wider range of property-related responsibilities, of which maintenance is only one component. (Business strategy, real estate acquisitions, HR and personnel oversight, budgeting, and contracts negotiations may feature, in that case.) If there are separate senior director roles for both maintenance and facilities, it’s probable that the maintenance director will primarily be in charge of daily maintenance functions/malfunctions, systems operations, staff management, and other small-picture responsibilities to ensure the hotel runs seamlessly.

The role will also likely be contingent upon the size of the organization. For maintenance directors at global restaurant or hotel chains, responsibilities and pay will obviously increase. Regional, national, and international work may be necessary, and the job will require a fair amount of travel. (With a larger and more structured employment model, it’s also likely that responsibilities will be more specialized.) On the other hand, professionals at small to mid-sized boutique hotels may combine big and small picture responsibilities, from everyday maintenance to hotel property management.

Each track has pros and cons, and may suit one work style over another. (Though plenty of hotel professionals have done both.) If you’re just beginning your career in hotels and hospitality, it’s too soon to start worrying about senior-level roles, but develop a career plan and chart a few potential tracks to achieve your goals.

Using Your Education to Become a Director of Maintenance

About 40 percent of maintenance directors have a bachelor’s, of which many hold bachelors degrees in hospitality management. Still some hotels – particularly larger chains – may prefer job candidates with advanced degrees, in which case you might want a master’s in hospitality management or even an MBA in Hospitality Management (which combines business and hospitality coursework)***LINK WHEN LIVE***.

If none of the above appeal to you, don’t worry: 14 percent of maintenance directors only have an associate’s, and a quarter have zero experience in higher education. As with most jobs in hospitality, the biggest factor in becoming a Director of Maintenance is experience.

Using Your Experience to Become a Director of Maintenance

Half of all maintenance directors have over 15 years of experience, and over twenty percent have 10-15. So while a degree in hospitality management is useful, nothing substitutes for on-the-job training. Many maintenance directors start their careers at entry-level positions, whether it’s in maintenance or in another area, like guest services or sales ***LINK TO group sales coordinator***. Others still may have experience in food services or hotel management. No background is the same, and no single track stands above the rest. The main prerequisites are leadership experience and a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

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