Nearly all elevator installers and repairers learn through a formal apprenticeship. A few states require licensure.
Elevator installers and repairers learn their trade through a 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. During training, apprentices learn blueprint reading, electrical and electronic theory, mathematics, applied physics, and safety.
Unions and individual contractors offer apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for workers to enter an apprenticeship program are the following:
A high school diploma or equivalent is required. High school classes in math, mechanical drawing, and shop may help applicants compete for apprenticeship openings.
Several states require elevator installers and repairers to be licensed. To get a license, applicants must pass an exam about electrical systems. Check with your state’s individual licensing agencies for specific requirements.
Some associations offer certification for workers. Although not required, certification can show competence and proficiency in the field. The National Association of Elevator Contractors offers two certification programs for elevator installers and repairers:
Ongoing training is important for elevator installers and repairers to keep up with technological developments. Union elevator installers and repairers typically get training throughout their careers. This training improves a worker's chances of keeping their jobs and getting promoted. Some installers may get additional training in specialized areas and advance to be a mechanic-in-charge, adjustor, supervisor, or elevator inspector.
Detail oriented. Elevator installers must keep accurate records of their service schedules. These records are used to schedule future maintenance times, which often help reduce breakdowns.
Mechanical skills. Elevator installers use a variety of power tools and handtools to install and repair lifts. Escalators, for example, run on tracks that must be installed using wrenches and screwdrivers.
Physical strength. Elevator installers must often lift heavy equipment and parts, including escalator steps, conduit, and metal tracks. Some apprentices must be able to lift 100 pounds to participate in a program.
Stamina. Elevators installers must be able to do hard work for long periods without getting overly tired.
Troubleshooting skills. Elevator installers and repairers must diagnose and repair problems. When an escalator stops moving, for example, mechanics must determine why it stopped and make the necessary repairs.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition