Becoming an Elevator Mechanic: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career as an elevator mechanic? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming an elevator mechanic is a good fit for you.
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The Pros and Cons of Becoming an Elevator Mechanic

Elevator mechanics' salaries are excellent, and job prospects for the future are bright. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of becoming an elevator mechanic to see if this is the right occupation for you.

Pros of Becoming an Elevator Mechanic
Excellent pay (In 2013, the median annual wage was $78,640)*
Good job benefits (union and non-union employers may offer pension plans and medical insurance)**
On-the-job training is available*
Less time is lost due to bad weather than in other construction jobs since work is performed indoors*

Cons of Becoming an Elevator Mechanic
Chance of injury (burns, electrical shock, falls from ladders or scaffolds)*
Heavy lifting is required*
Must work in confined spaces (elevator pits and shafts)***
Irregular work hours****

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **National Elevator Industry, ***City of Seattle Personnel Department, ****Various job postings, April 2012.

Career Information

Job Duties

Elevator mechanics assemble, install and repair elevators, escalators, moving walkways, chairlifts and dumbwaiters. They also read blueprints and use voltmeters and ammeters to determine the source of a problem. As a professional in this field, you perform maintenance procedures, such as replacing worn or damaged components, lubricating moving parts and adjusting counterweights. You also fix associated components, including control mechanisms, cables, motors and doors.

Work Conditions

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the vast majority of elevator mechanics work in the building construction industry, while others are employed by government agencies, universities and hospitals. Elevator mechanics must wear safety equipment since the rate of on-the-job injury is higher than average due to falls, electrical shocks and burns.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for elevator mechanics in 2013 was $78,640, or $37.81 per hour. Job prospects in the field are very good, with growth projected to be around 25% (much faster than average) from 2012-2022. The BLS attributes this strong demand to elevator installation in new stores and residential and commercial buildings.

Requirements

The most common way to obtain the skills needed to be an elevator mechanic is through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are generally offered through unions and contractors. To be eligible for this kind of program, you must have a high school diploma or GED credential, be at least 18 years old, pass an aptitude test and be physically able to bend, lift and perform all required tasks. Apprenticeships last five years, and most states require elevator mechanics to be licensed. Licensure requirements generally include a specified number of hours of instruction and paid on-the-job training.

Top Skills

Elevator mechanics must have the following skills:

  • Troubleshooting
  • Critical thinking
  • Arm-hand steadiness
  • Manual dexterity
  • Ability to determine the right tools and equipment
  • Near vision

Real Job Postings

Most employers look for elevator mechanics with experience. Because travel is often a requirement, a driver's license is usually necessary. Following are some jobs that were advertised in April 2012:

  • A New York elevator company is looking for an elevator mechanic with at least ten years of experience to service routes in five boroughs.
  • An elevator company in Virginia wants to hire an elevator mechanic with a minimum of five years of experience to repair and service elevators.
  • A company on Long Island seeks an elevator mechanic with at least five years of experience.
  • An electric company in Ohio is seeking an elevator mechanic to install and maintain electronic circuits and components for elevator motors. The job listing specifies skills in electronics troubleshooting, documentation and customer service.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

You may strengthen your chances of employment by getting certified. The National Association of Elevator Contractors offers two kinds of certification - one for elevators and one for lifts in private homes. You can also stand out from the competition by joining a union, like the International Union of Elevator Constructors. Union membership shows your commitment to the profession, and members may have access to benefits plans, training opportunities and product discounts.

Alternative Career Paths

Boilermaker

If you like to work with your hands but would rather pursue a career with faster job growth, you may want to consider becoming a boilermaker. Boilermakers install and repair blast furnaces, smokestacks and large vats that contain gases or liquids. They inspect for leaks, clean vats and replace broken pipes and valves. Boilermakers use hand and power tools, torches and welding equipment. They often learn their trade through apprenticeship programs. The BLS notes that boilermakers earned median salaries of about $57,000 as of May 2011, lower than an elevator mechanic's pay. However, employment prospects for boilermakers are much brighter; the number of jobs in this field is expected to grow 21% from 2010-2020.

Sheet Metal Worker

If you're interested in a related field that has slightly better job prospects, a career in sheet metal work may be for you. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for sheet metal workers are expected to increase 18% from 2010-2020. These professionals construct and install products made from thin sheets of metal, such as heating ducts, signs and gutters. After cutting the sheets of metal, they fasten them by welding, soldering, riveting or bolting them together. Candidates usually enter this field through apprenticeship programs. Sheet metal workers earned a median annual wage of about $43,000 as of 2011.

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