Elevator installers and repairers held about 19,700 jobs in 2012, of which 89 percent were employed in the building equipment contractors industry. In contrast to other construction trades, few elevator installers and repairers are self-employed.
Although installation and major repairs require mechanics to work in teams, workers often work alone when troubleshooting minor problems.
Injuries and Illnesses
Elevator installers and repairers may suffer falls from ladders, burns due to electrical shocks, and muscle strains from lifting and carrying heavy equipment. As a result, workers must take precaution and wear protective equipment such as hard hats, harnesses, and safety glasses.
Almost all elevator installers and repairers work full time. They often work overtime when emergency repairs need to be made or construction deadlines need to be met. Some workers are on call 24 hours a day.
Because the vast majority of their work is indoors, elevator installers and repairers are less affected by weather conditions than workers in many other construction occupations.
Nearly all elevator installers and repairers learn through an apprenticeship. Currently, 35 states require workers to be licensed.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required. High school classes in math, mechanical drawing, and shop may help applicants compete for apprenticeship openings.
Elevator installers and repairers learn their trade through a 5-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 to enter an apprenticeship program are the following:
- At least 18 years old
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Physically able to do the job
- Pass basic math, reading, and mechanical aptitude test
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Currently, 35 states require elevator installers and repairers to be licensed. 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:
- Certified Elevator Technician
- Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician
Ongoing training is important for elevator installers and repairers in order to keep up with technological developments. Union elevator installers and repairers typically receive training throughout their careers. This training improves a worker’s chances of keeping their job and getting promoted. Some installers may receive additional training in specialized areas and advance to be a mechanic-in-charge, adjustor, supervisor, or elevator inspector.
Elevator installers and repairers typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an elevator installer and repairer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Elevator installers and repairers should also possess the following specific qualities:
Detail oriented. Elevator installers must keep accurate records of their service schedules. These records are used to schedule future maintenance, which often helps 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 stamina. Elevators installers must be able to perform strenuous work for long periods.
Physical strength. Elevator installers 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.
Troubleshooting skills. Elevator installers and repairers must be able to diagnose and repair problems. When an escalator stops moving, for example, mechanics determine why it stopped and make the necessary repairs.
The median annual wage for elevator installers and repairers was $76,650 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,540, and the top 10 percent earned more than $106,450.
The starting pay for apprentices is usually 50 percent of what fully trained elevator installers and repairers make. They earn pay increases as they learn to do more. Apprentices who are certified welders usually receive higher wages when welding. Assistant mechanics, by contract, receive 80 percent of the rate paid to journeyman elevator installers and repairers.
Nearly all elevator installers and repairers work full time, which may include evenings and weekends. They often are required to be on call to handle emergencies. Overtime is common on construction sites because deadlines must be met.
Most elevator installers and repairers belonged to a union in 2012. Although no single union covers all elevator installers and repairers, the largest organizer of these workers is the International Union of Elevator Constructors.
Employment of elevator installers and repairers is projected to grow 25 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 4,800 new jobs over the 10-year period.
Demand for these workers will depend on growth of nonresidential construction, such as office buildings and stores that have elevators and escalators. This sector of the construction industry is expected to grow rapidly during the next decade as the economy rebounds from the recent recession.
In addition, the need to regularly maintain, update, and repair old equipment; provide access to the disabled; and install increasingly sophisticated equipment and controls should add to the demand for elevator installers and repairers.
Another factor driving demand for elevator installers and repairers is a growing number of elderly people who require stair lifts and elevators for easier access in their homes.
Overall job opportunities for elevator installers and repairers should be good because the dangerous and physically challenging aspects of the work reduce the number of qualified applicants.
Job opportunities for entry-level workers should be best for those who have postsecondary education in electronics or who have experience in the military.
Elevators, escalators, lifts, moving walkways, and related equipment need to work year-round, so employment of elevator repairers is less affected by economic downturns and seasonality than employment in other construction occupations.
For information about apprenticeships or job opportunities as an elevator mechanic, contact local elevator contractors, a local chapter of the International Union of Elevator Constructors, a local joint union-management apprenticeship committee, or the nearest office of your state employment service or apprenticeship agency. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s toll-free help line, 1 (877) 872-5627, or Employment and Training Administration.
For more information about elevator installers and repairers, visit
For more information about the NAEC Apprenticeship Program, the Certified Elevator Technician program, or the Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician program, visit