How to Become an Elevator Technician in 5 Steps

Learn about an elevator technician's responsibilities, and get information about education and training options, including apprenticeships. Find out about certification and licensure, as well as salary and employment outlook. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Elevator Technician?

An elevator technician is a technical specialist who installs, maintains and repairs automated transport equipment. In this role, you're primarily responsible for elevators but might work on moving walkways, escalators and chairlifts. You install ratchets, brakes, counterweights and doors while connecting motors, control panels and wires. Then, you may conduct inspections and run safety tests to identify and replace damaged parts. Repairs may include lubricating moving parts or adjusting alignment and clearances. Throughout all of these tasks, you maintain a work log.

Step 1: Prepare in High School

You need a high school diploma or GED certificate for admission into postsecondary programs or an apprenticeship. High school courses that may be applicable to future learning in this field include those relating to mathematics, physics, electronics and shop.

Step 2: Consider a Certificate or Associate's Degree

Although it isn't required, the increasing complexity of elevator technology has made postsecondary training in electrical technology or mechanical technology more valuable if you intend to become a technician. Community colleges, technical colleges and 4-year colleges and universities offer certificate and associate's degree programs in electrical engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology.

Electrical engineering technology programs teach you basic principles of electricity and train you in their application to control systems, instruments, communications and computing. Courses might include analog circuits, digital circuits and computer-aided design. Mechanical engineering technology programs teach you to apply fundamental concepts in physics to the solution of problems in manufacturing and construction. Courses cover thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, electricity fundamentals and technical graphics.

Step 3: Complete an Apprenticeship

A 4-year apprenticeship program provides most of your training. A few elevator companies and independent contractors offer apprenticeships, but the International Union of Elevator Constructors and local employers jointly sponsor most programs. These combine classroom instruction with supervised work site experience. They cover such topics as wiring, cabling, rail installation, electrical controls and blueprint reading. Classes explore electricity, technical math, statistics and work site safety.

Step 4: Obtain a Job

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), general building contractors provide a majority of job opportunities in this field ( Machinery manufacturers, wholesalers and postsecondary institutions are other possible employers. In 2008, about 24,900 people worked as technicians. From 2008-2018 employment was projected to rise nine percent to 27,100. Demand for your services depends on trends in the commercial construction industry, but the BLS expects that growth may increase as the elderly population expands and desires more residential elevators and stair lifts in their homes. The median annual salary of technicians as of May 2010 was $70,910.

Step 5: Consider Certification and Licensure

Most states require licensure by exam, but these requirements vary; however, voluntary certification is available at the national level. Two certifications are available from the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC): the Certified Elevator Technician (CET) and the Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician (CAT). To be eligible for the CET exam, you need to accumulate 4,000 hours or more of on-the-job training and complete a set of 12 NAEC courses. Eligibility for the CAT exam requires 4,000 hours and five courses. The minimum passing score on both exams is 85% as of 2011.

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