Becoming a Shoe Machine Technician: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a shoe machine technician? Get information on career prospects and current salary information to see if becoming a shoe machine technician is the right fit for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Shoe Machine Technician

Shoe machine technicians face waning job opportunities in the United States, but don't let this fact deter you from considering a career with some great perks. Read on to review some of the pros and cons of becoming a shoe machine technician to see if it's the right career for you.

Pros of Being a Shoe Machine Technician
Only need a high school diploma to pursue the career**
Work involves set procedures to follow when making repairs**
Doesn't involve tedious paperwork**
Some technicians can be creative with their design approach**

Cons of Being a Shoe Machine Technician
Job opportunities expected to decline by 35% between 2012 and 2022*
Pay is low (median annual wage was about $24,700 as of 2014)*
Requires long hours looking at tiny details, which could strain eyesight**
Frequent work with chemicals, such as glues, dyes and polishes**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine.

Essential Career Information

Job Duties

A shoe machine technician works with various machines and materials to make or repair shoes. Technicians are often called upon to add new shoe soles or heels or to decorate shoes with fashionable flare. Leather, wood and fabrics are common materials used when making repairs or creating a new shoe.

Working closely with the public is often a large part of the job. Technicians must understand their client's needs when repairing or designing shoes. Technicians also need to be accurate in their estimates of repairs or designs and accurately process payments received for their work.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shoe machine technicians tend to earn low salaries. As of May 2014, the BLS reported that the annual median wage for technicians was about $24,700. Employment opportunities are concentrated in Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Massachusetts. According to the BLS, jobs in Minnesota offered the highest annual mean wage at about $35,000 as of May 2013.

Career prospects for technician positions are on the decline, according to the BLS. In a BLS report of the fastest declining occupations in the United States, which was published in December 2013, shoe machine operators were near top of the list. For the 2012-2022 decade, the BLS predicted that shoe machine operators could face a 35% decline in job opportunities.

What Are the Requirements?

Most positions require a high school diploma or equivalent. Because of frequent interactions with customers, having a background in customer service also can be beneficial. Once hired, most technicians work under the guidance of more experienced technicians to learn the tools of the trade. You can also find state-sponsored programs for apprentice-based training.

Useful Skills

Employers seek technicians who show a track record of high-quality work. Based on a job description provided by O*Net OnLine, general qualifications include:

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Good communication skills
  • Hand and finger dexterity
  • Effective decision-making skills
  • Artistic talent

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Staying abreast of the latest fashion trends can help shoe machine technicians adapt to the changing styles sought after by customers. Some technicians seek voluntary professional membership in industry organizations to enhance their marketability. For example, the Shoe Service Institute of America (SSIA) offers memberships to retail shoe repair businesses as well as related wholesalers and suppliers. Through the SSIA, potential customers can locate an SSIA member in their area. SSIA also administers annual awards to recognize excellence in shoe repair.

Get Specialized

Specializing in pedorthics is another way to stand out in the field and attract a niche clientele. According to a report published by the Pedorthic Footwear Association (PFA) and the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, Inc. (ABC), pedorthics is considered an allied health profession. A pedorthist manufactures and repairs footwear and other items worn on the feet that are used specifically to help with patient rehabilitation and treatment of lower limb conditions. Pedorthists can work in hospital or doctor office settings.

To become a pedorthist, you must enroll in an education program recognized by the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education. In addition to coursework, you must complete 1,000 hours of practical experience and pass the Certified Pedorthist Exam.

Other Careers to Consider

If you love working with fabrics and materials but are looking for a position with more job opportunities, consider a career as an upholsterer. Like a shoe machine technician, an upholsterer needs only a high school diploma to start his or her career because much of the training is done on the job. Though the BLS predicts only predicted 4% job growth for upholsterers in the 2010-2020 decade, it well exceeds the decline in opportunities projected for shoe machine technicians. As of May 2014, upholsters also enjoyed a slightly higher annual median wage than shoe machine technicians at $31,890.

Another career to consider is working as a laundry or dry-cleaning employee. These facilities are located in both rural and urban settings across that country. The BLS, however, predicts only 1% job growth in this field for the 2010-2020 decade. Job training is also completed on the job, and workers do not necessarily need to have completed high school to find employment. The BLS reported that, as of May 2014, the annual median wage for laundry and dry-cleaning workers was only about $20,320, which was less than both a shoe machine technician and an upholsterer.

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