Appliance Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Get the truth about an appliance technician's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming an appliance technician and decide if this career is right for you.
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Appliance Technician Career: Pros and Cons

Appliance technicians, also referred to as home appliance repairers, are responsible for keeping appliances running smoothly in homes and businesses. Reading the pros and cons of being an appliance technician can help you decide if this is the right career choice for you.

Pros of Being an Appliance Technician
Offers choice of working for a business or being self-employed*
Workers may earn commissions on work performed*
Technical or on-the-job training may be sufficient for entry-level positions*
Can work in many geographic locations*

Cons of Being and Appliance Technician
Little to no employment growth (expected 1% job growth between 2012 and 2022)*
Low to average wage potential ($38,000 as of May 2014)*
May have to work evenings, weekends or on-call hours*
Working in shops may require being around loud noises*
Must keep up with continuing education*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Appliance technicians install, repair and maintain a variety of household appliances, including microwaves, stoves, ovens and refrigerators. While some appliance technicians work on small appliances in shops, most travel to customers' homes to work on the appliances. In addition to installing and repairing appliances, they also provide estimates for repairs, bill and collect payments and provide customers with instructions on appliance use and maintenance.

Appliance technicians use a variety of tools to complete their job, from simple tools to complex and specialized tools, such as voltmeters or ammeters. Some of the procedures they may perform include cleaning, tightening and lubricating parts, replacing heating elements, motors, gears or defective belts and diagnosing simple malfunctions. Appliance technicians working on air conditioners and refrigerators are required by law to keep and recycle the refrigerants (chlorofluorcarbon or CFC and hydrofluorocarbon or HCFC) used in the cooling process. The technicians may also perform warranty work as per the manufacturers' specifications.

Job Prospects and Salary

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of home appliance repairers was predicted to grow 1% between 2012 and 2022. This little to no average growth is because homeowners often weigh the cost of repairs against replacing the appliance, reported the BLS. The need to repair high-end appliances keeps appliance technicians in demand.

Graduates of appliance technician training programs may find work as appliance repair technicians, service managers, appliance servicing technicians, field technician or service technicians. They may work in appliance shops or may choose to open their own business. Appliance technicians who have completed formal training programs in appliance and electronics repair should see the best job prospects. The BLS reported that home appliance repairers earned around $38,000 as of May 2014.

What Are the Requirements?

While some appliance technicians receive their training on the job, others complete formal training, which can be in the form of training programs, seminars or individual courses. Depending on your specialty or employer, training can last from 6 months to several years. Appliance manufacturers may require you to complete specific training if you want to do warranty work on their appliances. Training programs are usually diploma, certificate or associate's degree programs with a blended curriculum of courses and hands-on training. Appliance technicians should be mechanically inclined and have good manual dexterity. Course topics may include electrical appliances, microwave oven repair, parts, sales and service, commercial equipment technology, first aid and CPR, dishwasher repair, central heating and cooling, sheet-metal fabrication and refrigerant certification.

What Employers Are Looking for

Some appliance technicians learn their trade through on-the-job training. However, most employers prefer technicians who have completed formal training programs because they're going to require less training when they're hired. With technology constantly changing, employers want appliance technicians who keep up with continuing education so they're knowledgeable in the repair and maintenance of the new appliance models. Here are a few job postings from real employers looking for appliance technicians in April 2012.

  • A Louisiana retailing manufacturing company is in need of a qualified appliance technician with excellent customer service skills. Applicants should have at least 6 months of experience repairing home appliance, sufficient training to be called professional service technicians, refrigeration certification (CFC), good problem-solving skills and high school diplomas. They must also be able to lift products and possess the ability to bend, stoop and sit to perform repairs.
  • A repair and maintenance servicing company is seeking an appliance technician to work in their Ohio and Michigan stores. Although experienced candidates are preferred, on-the-job training will be provided.
  • An experienced appliance repair technician is needed to work for a large retail company in the Bronx. Applicants should have at least a year of experience working as an appliance repair technician, and have a CFC license.

How to Beat the Competition

Because this field doesn't have specific education requirements, completing a training program or earning a degree can really help you beat the competition, according to the BLS. You may also want to consider jobs that provide on-the-job training.

Certification

The Professional Service Association (PSA) offers certifications on a variety of levels. By passing PSA examinations, you can use the titles of Certified Master Technician, Certified Technician or Certified Graduate Technician. To be eligible for the PSA certifications, you must meet experience or educational requirements. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) also offers certification programs in several levels, including Associate Level Electronics, Electronics Systems Associate, Journeyman CET or National Appliance Service Technician Certification (NASTeC). Obtaining certification demonstrates your knowledge and skill to potential employers or customers.

Licensure

Although certification is usually voluntary, appliance technicians may need to be licensed/certified if they're handling refrigerants. To obtain this credential, individuals must pass a certification examination offered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some trade or vocational schools or employer associations offer courses or training programs designed to prepare candidates for taking the EPA examination.

Get Specialized

Appliance technician careers cover a wide area because there are so many appliances today. Training programs for aspiring technicians often cover various appliances. At the very least, they cover the most common appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, washers and dryers. To be competitive, you may want to become specialized in the repair of as many appliances as possible.

Other Careers to Consider

Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer

If you enjoy installing appliances and have a knack for making repairs, but are looking for a career with a higher job growth, you may want to consider becoming a heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer. This career typically requires completion of a formal training program. Employers may also want you to complete an apprenticeship to obtain hands-on experience working on HVAC systems.

The BLS predicted these workers would have an employment growth of 34% between 2010 and 2020, a much faster than average growth for all occupations. According to a BLS report in May 2011, heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers earned near $46,000.

Electrician

One might say that as long as we have electricity, we'll continue to need electricians. Whether or not the case, the BLS predicted electricians are expected to see an employment growth of 23% between 2010 and 2020. As of May 2011, electricians earned almost $53,000. To become an electrician, you need to at least complete a formal training program at a community college or technical school. However, most electricians complete apprenticeships - typically four years in duration - where they complete both technical and on-the-job training. Electricians are required to be licensed in most states. While the training is longer than what's required of appliance technicians, the wage is higher for electricians and it's a career with better employment prospects.

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