How to Become an Elevator Technician in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become an elevator technician. Learn about education and training options, certification and license requirements, average wages, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Elevator Technicians Do?

Elevator technicians perform installations, maintenance, and repairs on elevators, escalators, and other automated transport equipment. Using blueprints, they determine what equipment and supplies are needed to complete a project. Often when repairing equipment they must first diagnose the cause of failure, making note of the conditions of brakes, motors, switches and control systems. Sometimes repairs may only involve making adjustments to counterweights, door mechanisms and safety controls. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know before entering this field.

Education Required High school diploma or GED,
Post-secondary training or an apprenticeship
Education Field of Study High school courses in math, electronics, and physics may be beneficial,
Certificate or associate's degree in mechanical engineering or electrical engineering technology
Licensure Required Most states require a state license exam,
Voluntary certifications are obtainable with experience and coursework
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 13%
Median Salary (2015)* $80,870

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 2015, about 21,000 people worked as elevator installers and repairers. From 2014-2024, employment was projected to rise 13%. Demand for your services depends on trends in the commercial construction industry, but the BLS expects that growth may increase as the economy rebounds and the construction industry grows at a rapid pace. The median annual salary of technicians as of May 2015 was $80,870.

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.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of careers related to those of elevator technicians. Boilermakers install and repair large equipment that hold heated liquids and gasses. These professionals typically undergo apprenticeship training. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install and repair electrical equipment. A postsecondary certificate is the common academic requirement for these installers and repairers. Similarly, electricians install and maintain electrical wiring, lights, switches, outlets and some electrical equipment. Similar to elevator technicians, this occupation typically requires completion of an apprenticeship.

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