Get a Job as an Elevator Technician

Would you like to work on elevators for a living? Discover the skills and schooling required to be an elevator technician.

When you go in any building with an elevator, moving walkway, or escalator it is easy to see how helpful such devices are. Often they are taken for granted because they look so simple. They certainly make the lives of busy office building workers, airline passengers and other users easier. They allow users to get from one point to another faster and with less effort than would otherwise be possible. What average users do not realize about such marvels of modern machinery is that they are not as simple as they appear. Escalators, moving walkways, and elevators are made up of many different parts. Each of those parts needs regular maintenance. Often, parts also require repairs or total replacement. That is why a career as an elevator technician (also called an elevator mechanic) is stable and potentially lucrative. 

Before you decide to become an elevator technician, understand it is not a job you can usually obtain overnight. There are several steps you must take to become qualified for a position building or maintaining such machinery. It requires a certain skill set and educational background. Here is more information about how to get a job as an elevator technician.

What You Can Earn as an Elevator Technician

You can make quite a good living as an elevator technician. According to 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the average pay for an elevator repair or installation technician was $88,540 annually. That is equal to an hourly rate of approximately $42.57.  However, it is important to know you may start out making considerably less than that amount. What you can actually make depends largely on factors like: 

  • Whether You Live in a City (Where Elevators Are Plentiful)

  • What Certifications or Licenses You Have

  • Your General Schooling and Work Backgrounds

  • Overall Work Performance/How Often You Receive Promotions

  • How Long You Continue Working in the Field

The Basic Comprehension Skills of an Elevator Technician

As an elevator technician, there are certain skills you must have to be successful. Basic math skills are important, as are reading and writing skills. You must be able to read and comprehend blueprints, instruction manuals, and other paperwork associated with the job. Typically, a high school education is enough to provide you with those basic skills. However, if you feel deficient in any of those areas, you may wish to sign up for an extra class before applying for an elevator technician position. 

The Strength and Stamina of an Elevator Technician

If you desire an elevator technician position you must possess a degree of physical strength and stamina. You may have to work with heavy tools. If you get a position working in a large skyscraper or for a company handling repairs in multiple buildings, you must also prepare yourself to do a lot of walking. For example, if an elevator is stuck between floors in a skyscraper, you may need to go up several flights of stairs to access it. 

Electrical and Mechanical Skills an Elevator Technician Needs

Mechanical skills are required for any elevator technician position. You must know how to operate drills and other power tools. Additionally, you need to have knowledge of electrical engineering. Understanding how electrical circuits work is key. Often, problems with elevators are caused by such issues as electrical shorts. You must have the skills necessary to trace an electrical problem back to its origin point and replace the necessary wiring, fuses, or related parts.

Other Skills and Traits That Can Help You Become a Successful Elevator Technician

Mechanical skills, electrical skills, physical stamina, and basic comprehension are the basic skills you absolutely need to apply for elevator technician positions. However, there are additional skills and traits that may help you improve your chances for long-term success and prosperity in the field. Among them are: 

  • Being Detail Oriented

  • Thinking Quickly and Clearly Under Pressure

  • Having No Fear of Heights or Enclosed Spaces

  • Ability to Work Well with a Partner When Required

Educational Requirements for Elevator Technicians

In most U.S. states you can become an elevator technician as long as you hold a high school diploma. However, some states do require you to pass a licensing exam. Even in states that do not require such an exam, you can apply for voluntary certification, such as through the National Association of Elevator Contractors. There are several types of voluntary certifications available. They include: 

  • Qualified Elevator Inspector (QEI)

  • Certified Elevator Technician (CET)

  • Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technicians (CAT)

Even though a high school diploma is the only requirement to begin a career as an elevator technician in most states, you must also gain practical knowledge in the field. For that purpose, it is recommended you work for some length of time in the construction industry before becoming an elevator technician. Also, you may need to complete an apprenticeship. A typical elevator technician apprenticeship is a four to five-year program. It consists of on-the-job training and general study.

Where to Find an Elevator Technician Position

When you are ready to apply for a job as an elevator technician, the next logical question is where can you apply? An elevator technician position is not the type of job you might typically see posted in a small town newspaper. Your best chance of finding such a job is in often in an urban area. Websites like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed frequently have posted job openings for elevator technicians, if you want to begin your search online.

Another good source for elevator technician openings is your closest elevator union. There are many elevator union locations spread out across the United States and Canada. However, each union hall typically has specific periods during which you can apply for membership. Once you are a member, you must also frequently contact the union hall to see if new positions are available.

The Last Key Skill of an Elevator Technician

The last key skill you must have as an elevator technician is patience. That applies both on the job and during the application process. It may take a while to find the apprenticeship you need or the permanent position you desire. However, once you are on the right track an elevator technician job can provide you with an excellent level of financial security.