|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; associate degree can speed promotion|
|Licensure/Certification||Certification available through apprenticeship programs; licensure required in most states; voluntary certifications are available|
|Experience||Most apprenticeships last 4 years and are paid positions|
|Key Skills||Manual dexterity; attention to detail; aptitude for mechanics and electronics|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||13% growth|
|Mean Annual Salary (2015)||$77,350 (for elevator repairers and installers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Elevator technicians use specialized equipment such as pressure gauges and ammeters to test the function of elevators, escalators and residential lifts. Technicians who can specialize in either maintenance and repair or equipment installation need a working knowledge of electronics, electricity and hydraulics. Most technicians train through 4-year apprenticeship programs offered by an elevator contractor union or employer. These programs offer supervised instruction in all aspects of the field, preparing graduates to test for technician certification.
While an apprenticeship alone is usually sufficient training to become an elevator technician, changing technology in the field is causing many employers to seek technicians who also hold an associate's degree in electronics. These programs teach students to work with various types of electronics systems.
Once they've completed their education, elevator technicians in most states must obtain licensure. Additionally, voluntary certification is available.
Most certified elevator technicians trained for their positions in a 4-year apprenticeship program. Programs are typically registered with either the state or U.S. Department of Labor, and apprentices must have a GED or high school diploma and be 18 years or older.
Apprentices are paired with experienced elevator technicians and begin their apprenticeships by doing menial tasks. They eventually work their way up to learning about counterweights, motors, hydraulics and electrical wiring. Wages for apprentices generally begin at half of the hourly wage of a journeyman elevator technician and increase up to the journeyman's rate over the course of the apprentice program. Upon completion of an apprenticeship program, graduates earn a nationally recognized certificate of completion.
Organizations such as the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) and the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) offer classes to go along with the hands-on training side of apprenticeship programs. Coursework includes:
- Elevator history
- Installing elevator components
- Electrical wiring
- Hydraulic theory
Associate's Degree Programs
Elevator mechanics with a degree generally advance faster that those who only have a high school diploma. While not currently required by most employers, given technology advances in the field an associate's degree in electronics could give a technician an advantage in employment and advancement opportunities.
Associate's degree programs in electronics provide students with skills in electronic test equipment as well as a working knowledge of computer hardware and software often used in the field. Associate-level electronics programs are geared towards providing students with training for entry-level positions in a variety of fields, including elevator technology.
Electronics programs focus on wiring, continuity and voltage. Classes might cover topics such as:
- Alternating and direct currents
NAEC offers two types of voluntary certification: Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician (CAT), and Certified Elevator Technician (CET). The certification process includes a 2-year self-directed study program followed by a certification exam. Coursework is a combination of textbook work, Internet coursework and a skills verification process (www.naec.org).
Some elevator technicians and mechanics are union members. Many employers require professionals to join a union once they have completed an apprenticeship program and passed the national standardized examination provided by the NEIEP. The majority of technicians belong to the International Union of Elevator Constructors.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the field of elevator installation and repair was expected to increase by 13% from 2014 to 2024, which was faster than the average for all occupations. The mean annual wage for elevator repairers and installers was $77,350 as of May 2015.
Graduates from associate-level electronics programs should be qualified to work in entry-level positions in a variety of fields besides elevator technology. Common fields include telecommunications, heating, ventilation and air conditioning control systems, computer engineering technology and renewable energy. Graduates might be qualified to work as:
- Automotive electronics repairmen
- Electrician assistants
- Electronics salespeople
- Elevator mechanics
- Thermostat repairmen
In summary, elevator technicians typically train through a 4-year apprenticeship program, though many employers now seek those who also hold an associate's degree in electronics. Most states require licensure for elevator technicians, and voluntary certification is available.