Elevator Mechanic

Job Description and Career Info

Elevator mechanic with screwdriver working on an elevator
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Elevator mechanics install, maintain, or fix elevators, escalators, and moving walkways. Each type of work—installation, maintenance, and repair—requires a different skill set, therefore those who work in this occupation usually specialize in one area. Elevator mechanics may also be called elevator installers, repairers, technicians, or constructors. 

Quick Facts

  • Elevator mechanics earned a median annual salary of $79,780 in 2018.
  • 27,000 people worked in this occupation in 2018.
  • Most jobs are full-time positions and include working overtime and being on call in case of emergencies.
  • Building equipment contractors employ the majority of elevator mechanics.
  • There will be a high demand for workers during this decade, mostly due to the construction of non-residential buildings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment will grow at double the average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028. The government agency classifies it as a "Bright Outlook" occupation because of its excellent job outlook. However, many people will apply for the available jobs, making competition intense.

What Does an Elevator Mechanic Do?

These are some typical job duties specified in online ads for elevator mechanic positions found on Indeed:

  • "Examine, maintain, and repair elevators as well as other conveyance types."
  • "Determine the need for and perform major overhaul or replacement of defective equipment."
  • "Perform proper timekeeping and accounting of materials and expenses for assigned projects."
  • "Read and interpret blueprints."
  • "Follow appropriate maintenance and service procedures."
  • "Meet and assist with third-party municipal inspections."

The Downside of Working in This Occupation

  • Elevator technicians may have to be "on call" to respond to emergencies and perform repairs during the night and on weekends and holidays.
  • They spend time working in tight places. This makes it a less than ideal choice for those people who are uncomfortable in those situations.
  • This work can be dangerous. Injuries caused by falls, burns, and muscle pulls are common.

How to Become an Elevator Technician

To prepare to work in this occupation, you will have to complete a four-year apprenticeship that consists of 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. You will learn about electrical and electronic theory, mathematics, physics, safety, and how to read blueprints.

Apprenticeships, which are usually sponsored by unions and contractors, are open to high school graduates or those who have earned equivalency diplomas. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and physically able to do the job. Before getting admitted to a program, you will have to pass math, reading, and mechanical aptitude tests. Taking math, shop, and mechanical drawing classes in high school will help prepare you.

Elevator mechanics need a license to work in some states. To find out if your state requires one, see the Licensed Occupation Tool from CareerOneStop (Hint: typing only the word "elevator" into the search box will bring up all relevant job titles).

Although not required, some people working in this field choose to become certified. Voluntary certification, available from trade associations like the National Association of Elevator Contractors, can make job candidates more appealing to an employer since it demonstrates that they have met specific standards.

What Soft Skills Will You Need?

In addition to your training, license, and voluntary certification, particular soft skills—personal attributes, communication abilities, and people skills that individuals are born or acquire through life experiences—are essential. Elevator mechanics need to have the following attributes:

  • Physical strength and stamina: As an elevator technician, you must be able to lift heavy equipment and do grueling work for extended time periods.
  • Detail-oriented: This ability will allow you to keep track of maintenance schedules.
  • Troubleshooting skills: You will have to determine the causes of problems.
  • Critical thinking: Before you can fix some problems, you will have to identify and compare alternative solutions.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

In addition to skills and experience, what qualities do employers look for when they hire elevator technicians? Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on Indeed:

  • "Demonstrated customer service skills and the ability to remain calm when confronted with difficult situations"
  • "Applicant must be able to lift and move 80 pounds without assistance"
  • "Must be a strong team player and must be able to work independently and as a team member"
  • "Must be self-motivated"
  • "Takes direction in a positive manner"
  • "Must have demonstrated strong mechanical reasoning and comprehension skills plus hands-on mechanical aptitude"
  • "Able to follow instructions, make suggestions, and is willing to learn"

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Do you have the interests, personality type, and work-related values that make this career a good fit? A thorough self-assessment will help you find out. Here are the traits elevator mechanics should have:

  • Interests (Holland Code): RIC (Realistic, Investigative, Conventional)
  • Personality type (MBTI Personality Types): ISTJ, ESTP, ISTP, ISFP
  • Work-related values: Support, Working Conditions, Independence

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