While you may have heard that elevator mechanics are among the highest paid blue collar workers, many in the field find the challenges and sense of satisfaction to be equally rewarding. An elevator mechanic has a great deal of responsibility and must be able to work independently as well as part of a team. The technician must have excellent customer service skills and problem-solving abilities.
Individuals wishing to pursue a career in the elevator trade should hold a high school diploma and be at least 18 years of age. Completion of high school classes such as mechanical drawing, shop, and higher maths, including algebra and geometry are usually a requirement. Those who have completed trigonometry or physics will be at an advantage. Furthermore, an elevator mechanic will be required to hold a valid driver’s license and have a clean driving record.
For more information on apprenticeships contact the National Association of Elevator Contractors (www.neac.org).
Experience in other trades or related fields may be helpful. These include work as an electrician, industrial machinery mechanic, auto mechanic, millwright, boilermaker, ironworker, sheet metal worker, plumber, electronics repair tech, or heating and air conditioning tech. Competition remains strong in the trade, so post-secondary education in electronics or electrical engineering could be a valuable asset. In some instances, certified welders may be eligible for pay incentives while welding. Also, some employers may give preference to military veterans.
Along with a proficiency in basic math and reading comprehension skills, the successful elevator mechanic must possess a mechanical aptitude. Most installers and repair technicians will be required to read blueprints and must have a proficiency with power tools and hand tools. The work requires strong attention to detail and problem-solving skills.
On the Job Training
Nearly, all elevator technicians learn the trade by completing apprenticeships. Most apprenticeship programs take four years to complete and include 600 hours or more of education, which is completed simultaneously with a minimum of 8000 hours of on-the-job training. Courses of study may include topics such as safety, blueprint reading, electrical theory, hydraulics, math, and physics. A thorough review of elevator and escalator parts will also be included. An apprentice will routinely earn about thirty to fifty percent of the amount earned by a fully-trained journeyman mechanic.
Continuing education may be a requirement in order to maintain licenses and certifications. Currently, thirty-five states require mechanics to be licensed.
Elevator mechanics must have the physical ability to perform the duties of the trade. The work may be strenuous and may involve standing or working in cramped locations for long periods. Mechanics may often find it necessary to lift heavy equipment or tools weighing up to 100 pounds. Work may be performed outdoors in all types of weather or in buildings which are still under construction.
An elevator mechanic’s duties often involve working on scaffolding or in open elevator shafts. The technician must be comfortable working in high places and must have a good sense of balance. Safety equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, safety shoes, and hearing protection, should be used on a regular basis. The job includes an inherent risk of injury from ladders, electrical shock, or lifting of heavy equipment.
Duties of an Elevator Mechanic
Construction mechanics, or installers, assemble and install elevator equipment such as full-sized elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, accessibility lifts or moving walks. They must be team-oriented and able to use good judgment in completing projects in a timely manner. Adjusters specialize in fine-tuning of equipment. They will use testing and diagnostic equipment such as ammeters and voltmeters to troubleshoot any problem or maladjustment. Repair crews may be assigned to complete large projects, such as a modernization of old equipment or replacement of major components. A maintenance mechanic will regularly attend to maintenance tasks such as oiling or greasing moving parts, cleaning, and adjustments. Most elevator servicemen will regularly be on-call and may be required to work overtime.
Elevator installers and repairers earn an annual income on average of about $74,000. While the lowest ten percent earn approximately $39,000 per year, workers in some states may average as much as $110,000. Generally, elevator mechanics work in full-time positions and receive medical benefits along with paid vacation, holiday and sick time. Employment in the field is expected to grow as much as thirteen percent over the next 8-10 years, which is faster than the national average for all careers. Typically, employment in the elevator trade is less affected by seasons or economic downturns than other construction trades since elevator equipment remains in use year-round.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Elevator Installers and Repairers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/elevator-installers-and-repairers.htm (visited August 17, 2016).
“47-4021.00.” O*NET OnLine. National Center for O*NET Development, n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2016. <http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/47-4021.00>.