Becoming an Appliance Repair Technician: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of an appliance repair technician career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming an appliance repair technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being an Appliance Repair Technician

Home appliance repairers install and repair large appliances in customers' homes. Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing this career.

Pros of Becoming an Appliance Repair Technician
High school education may be sufficient for employment*
Many appliance repair technicians are self-employed*
Chance to work with your hands on a variety of equipment (stoves, washers, dryers, microwaves, etc.)*

Cons of Becoming an Appliance Repair Technician
Below-average wages (median annual salary of $35,410 in 2014)*
Oftentimes, you will have to move heavy appliances and work in confined areas*
Whether you work independently or for a company, you can expect to make emergency calls, sometimes outside of normal business hours*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Duties and Description

As a home appliance repair technician, you will visit the homes of customers to repair and install such appliances as washers, dryers and stoves. You might also fix air conditioners and refrigerators if you're properly licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with refrigerants. Your work can include diagnosing problems; using tools such as hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches to make repairs; and handling billing issues with customers. You could replace, modify or repair belts, hoses, gears, switches or circuit boards. For new appliances, you might also be responsible for instructing the owner in proper maintenance and operation procedures.

Salary and Job Outlook

In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that home appliance repairers earned a median annual salary of $35,410. The BLS also reported that the top 10% of these professionals earned $59,220 or more, while the bottom 10% earned less than $20,840. The BLS noted that earning a commission is possible for some repairers, which could allow you to earn extra money the more you work.

While the BLS does not provide specific growth figures for home appliance repair workers, they do report that jobs within the field of general maintenance and repair are expected to grow by 9% from 2012-2022, which is about as fast as average. The prospects are much better for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, with a 21% increase projected for 2012-2022. However, jobs for electrical and electronics installers are only projected to rise by 1% for this period, which means little to no change in the number of jobs available.

Education and Training Requirements

In many cases, you'll only need a high school diploma to become a home appliance repair technician. Commonly, employers offer on-the-job training to instruct you in the appropriate techniques of the field. However, there are some postsecondary training programs that could be useful to you, such as certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in appliance repair, electronics technology and heating, ventilation and air-conditioner (HVAC) repair. Electronics technology programs could offer courses in electromechanical devices, technical writing, telecommunications and digital circuits, while appliance repair programs could focus on repair techniques that are specific to refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves and ice makers.

If you're interested in working with refrigerants, you will need to be licensed through the EPA. This doesn't necessarily require a formal educational experience; you may find preparation for the EPA's refrigeration examinations through trade schools. You could also prepare for the test through union and employer-training programs.

Useful Skills for Appliance Repair Technicians

Other than training and education, several skills will be useful for success in this career field. These include being mechanically inclined, having listening skills, being a good sales person, possessing dexterity and having the ability to use logical reasoning to solve problems.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Job posts from April and May of 2012 indicate that having some level of previous experience in the field is what most employers appreciate. Here's a sampling of real job listings to provide an idea of what else employers want in a candidate.

  • A company in Michigan sought a technician for appliances and refrigeration equipment who had experience in both new and used equipment. They wanted a candidate to work at their repair facility as well as make service calls for food service establishments and grocery stores. They also wanted someone with 10-15 years of experience and at least a high school education.
  • A Virginia company wanted a polite, professional candidate to handle large appliances in customer homes. They sought someone with 2-5 years of experience in the field and some form of industry certification.
  • A Florida company was looking for a vocational school student, a program graduate, or a professional repairer with 1-2 years of experience. The work called for repairing kitchen appliances, stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, washers and dryers.
  • A New York company was looking for someone with 2-3 years of experience, with refrigeration being a bonus. If you were a good communicator with customer service skills and a willingness to work, their company offered a company van for you to use should you get hired.

Standing Out

While not mandatory, completing some form of postsecondary education may increase your job prospects in this field, according to the BLS. Additionally, you may consider becoming licensed by the EPA to handle refrigerants in order to broaden your possible job prospects.

Certification in this field is not required for employment, but there are certifications you can gain that will help you demonstrate your competency in the field to employers. For example, the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians offers the National Appliance Service Technician Certification (NASTeC). The NASTeC is available in four different areas: basic skills, refrigeration and air conditioning, cooking, and laundry and dish washing. The basic skills certification must be earned before any of the other three can be obtained, and holding all four certifications qualifies you to be awarded the title of 'Universal Technician'.

Alternative Career Options

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

If you're interested in a repair position that offers a better annual salary, you might consider becoming an electrical and electronics installer and repairer. These professionals work to install, maintain and repair a variety of electrical equipment, and can work with industrial and commercial equipment, as well as with powerhouses, substations, electric motors and transportation equipment.

In 2011, these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $50,000, according to the BLS. From 2010-2020, they were expected to see a slower-than-average job growth rate of about three percent. A high school diploma might qualify you for some jobs, but the completion of a certificate or associate degree program in electronics is typically necessary.

HVAC Technician

If you're interested in a field with a stronger job growth rate in the near future, you might consider becoming an HVAC technician. From 2010-2020, these professionals were expected to see a 34% increase in job growth. While not technically required, some postsecondary education is becoming more commonly required for this field. In 2011, the BLS stated that these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $43,000.

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