Elevator Technician: Career Definition, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for an elevator technician. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties and career prospects to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Elevator Technician?

After an elevator is installed, a dedicated individual must maintain and service the elevator in order to keep it working as well as possible. These technicians generally focus on preventive maintenance including but not limited to oiling, greasing and replacing parts as well as adjusting equipment when necessary. They also troubleshoot any questionable issues that arise with the unit and may be called to perform emergency repairs on short notice. Workers who specialize in elevator maintenance often have a specific group of elevators or buildings on which they focus as part of their job.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required High school diploma or equivalent
Training Required 4-year apprenticeship
Key Responsibilities Install, maintain, and repair elevators, escalators and other automated transport equipment
Licensure Required in some states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 13%*
Median Salary (2015) $80,870*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Elevator Technician Do?

Elevator technicians install and ensure the operation of elevators, chair lifts, escalators and other people-moving devices. Your main responsibility as an elevator technician is to install, maintain and repair elevators and related types of automated transport equipment, such as chairlifts, escalators and moving walkways. During installation, your duties include reading blueprints to identify the location and layout of shafts and foundations; connecting wires to control panels and motors; and installing doors, brakes, ratchets and counterweights. Maintenance duties include inspecting alignment, clearances, control panels and wires; oiling moving parts; adjusting doors, brakes and counterweights. Repair duties entail locating, removing and replacing damaged or broken parts; testing the safety and functionality of repairs; and maintaining a repair log.

Where Would I Work?

The largest number of job opportunities is with general building contractors, but you may find positions with general machinery manufacturers, machinery wholesalers or colleges and universities. Union membership is a requirement for many jobs. Approximately 21,000 people were employed as elevator technicians in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects that the number should increase to 23,730 by 2024. The need to maintain existing installations and increased demand for residential elevators and stair lifts by the elderly is expected to contribute to growth, but overall employment should vary with the strength of the commercial construction industry. As of May 2015, you could have earned a median annual salary of $80,870.

What Education Is Available to Me?

Most elevator technicians receive their initial training in 4-year apprenticeship programs joint sponsored by the International Union of Elevator Constructors and local employers. Independent contractors and elevator companies may offer apprenticeships as well. To enter a program, you need to be physically fit, 18 years old or older and have a high school diploma or GED. You may also have to pass a basic reading and math skills test.

Once in a program, your education consists of on-the-job training under the supervision of a licensed elevator mechanic or technician supplemented by classroom instruction. On the job, you could learn re-cabling and re-roping, motor and bearing lubrication, wiring installation, door installation and materials handling. Classroom topics might include technical math, electricity and electrical circuits, blueprint reading, metering, hydraulics and site safety. After completing a program, many cities and states require you to pass a licensing exam.

Continuing education is just as important after you become a licensed journeyperson - both to stay current with technology and to qualify for promotions. Ongoing training can take place through formal courses, distance-learning programs or seminars. You could potentially become an adjuster, senior technician or inspector; otherwise, you might transition into product design and management positions.

What Are Some Alternative Careers?

Electricians and electrical installers have similar job duties and responsibilities to elevator technicians, in that they maintain and install electrical systems and components. Electricians typically need to complete an apprenticeship in order to qualify for licensure. Other similar jobs that require the same level of education are those of boilermakers, iron workers, and sheet metal workers. All of these careers require fabrication and/or installation of potentially dangerous materials. Individuals working in these positions should understand the full responsibility of working safely with these systems.

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