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How To Become An Elevator Mechanic

A four year apprenticeship is the typical path to become an elevator mechanic. Additional certifications by various industry organizations are also recommended.

Are you the kid who loved to take things apart just to see how they work? 

Were you always curious about machinery and moving parts?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, then becoming an elevator mechanic might just be the perfect career for you! 

Not only will you get to satisfy your curious side, but you’ll also have plenty job opportunities and a pretty great salary. But be warned, this isn’t a job for the faint of heart. You’ll need to be comfortable with really small spaces and have a head for heights.

The most challenging part might be learning to resist the urge to press all the buttons while riding in the elevators you fix! If you think you have what it takes, then let’s ride this elevator to the top and find out all you need to know to get started in this career.

What Does An Elevator Mechanic Do?

Elevator mechanics are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and installing elevators.

They make sure they are in safe working order by performing regular maintenance checks and responding to service requests. It’s an important job that requires specialized knowledge of the equipment.

What you do day to day will depend on the part of the industry you work in.

  • Construction will have you working on new installations. This work can be a bit repetitive so if you are looking for variety you might choose a different speciality.
  • Modernization is the process of removing old elevator technology and replacing it with newer equipment. Then you need to do what is needed to get that old and new stuff to work together.
  • Repair and service might have you working on several jobs a day fixing various elevator components.

How To Become An Elevator mechanic

A prospective candidate must have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Then, to become an elevator mechanic you can do one of the following:

  • Attend a 2-year (or less) vocational program that specializes in an elevator mechanic certificate program
  • Work as an apprentice for up to 4 years

Below are some more details to help you get started.

High School Diploma or GED

A high school diploma or GED is required.

Attend A Trade School

NEIEP is the industry standard for training, but you can also attend a trade school or community college to learn related skills like welding, electrical, etc.

Apprenticeship

You can skip trade school and go right into an apprenticeship. Reach out to your local IUEC to find opportunities.

Certification

Certification will help your long-term work goals. After gaining some experience you can begin enrolling in industry-specific certification programs.

Vocational School

One of the recommended educational paths is to attend the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP). This program is a joint effort with the International Union of Elevator Constructors.

These combined forces provide an exceptional earning opportunity for those interested in the field of elevator repair and installation. The courses offered cover every possible topic you would need to become a well-rounded mechanic.

Some IUEC local unions offer also training programs alongside an apprenticeship.

You can also look for programs closer to home. While elevator repair is not a common trade course you can take welding, electronics, and other trade courses. These will all be helpful.

Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are an alternate to attending school, but combining both is highly recommended.

To obtain an apprenticeship you should look for a local union through the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC).

A typical apprenticeship will last 4-years. It is paid on-the-job training where you will work alongside more experience elevator mechanics. You might also attend classes at night.

Once you successfully complete an apprenticeship you can take the mechanics exam.

Certifications + Licensing

Certifications are not required, but are highly recommended.

Once you obtain a certification it makes you more marketable to employers and can bring higher salaries.

The National Association of Elevator Contractors offer several certification programs.

Certified Elevator Technician (CET) ®
The CET® Certification is a Department of Labor approved program from the National Association of Elevator Contractors.

To qualify you need to be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. Then an application can be completed, you will need to find a CET-S to sponsor you and pay the member fee.

The program offers 2 levels of training that will take a combined 4 years to complete. Once both programs are completed and you pass both exams, it is time to apply for the CET® Certification

Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technicians (CAT)
The CAT™ candidate program is also a NAEC program and will take approximately 2-years to complete.

To qualify for the program you must be 18-years of age or older, have a high school diploma or GED, complete an application, have a CAT-S sponsor, and pay an annual fee.

Once the program is completed and you have acquired on-the-job-training and taken the exam you can become certified.

Vehicle Transportation Management (VTMP)

Also a NAEC certification, this program offers training in basic business and technology practices that are specific to the elevator industry. It is specifically for those looking to go into management or sales.

The program can be completed in just a few weeks.

Qualified Elevator Inspectors (QEI)
The National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities (NAESA) offers the QEI certification. This certification is for those that meet the requirements as noted in the ASME QE1 Standards document.

There are various requirements that include the ability prove education and experience in the industry.

Licensing
Licensing requirements vary by state but usually involve passing an exam and obtaining proof of completion of required coursework. Your local IUEC can help you understand what licensing requirements there are for your state.

Pros & Cons

This job has some “ups and downs” (get it? ) – that we definitely want you to know about!

PROS

  • Better than average salaries.
  • Excellent benefits.
  • Low barrier to entry.
  • Most elevator mechanics love what they do.
  • Very high earning potential as experience is gained.
  • Career growth with more education and certifications.

CONS

  • The job can be very dangerous, especially if safety protocols are not followed.
  • Working in small spaces and extreme heights.
  • Smaller industry can mean less jobs.
  • On-call for emergencies can mean working all hours.
  • May require long commute times.

Recommended Skills

Becoming an elevator mechanic requires mastery of a variety of skills including the below:

Problem Solving

A strong technical aptitude is essential to be able to troubleshooting complex issues that could be due to electrical, hardware, or parts.

Communication

Communication skills help ensure that customers receive prompt service while maintaining their trust in the quality of repairs done by the technician. Explaining issues in a clear way will also be beneficial.

Manual Dexterity

Manual dexterity is important for working with small tools, fasteners and other components found in the machines.

Mechanical Aptitude

It’s important to have mechanical aptitude, which includes knowledge of hydraulics, pneumatics, and electrical components.

Salary Potential

Elevator workers have a median salary of about $97,860 annually.

This means half of all workers make less than this amount and half make more.

Those with certifications and experience can easily make over $100K annually.

Benefits

If you join a local union, which most do, the benefits are pretty good. A typical union elevator mechanic will receive:

  • Pension plan
  • Health plan
  • 401K

Career Outlook

The demand for elevator workers is fair with an expected 3% growth through 2031 as noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While there is not a lot of growth in new jobs, there will be plenty of openings. Retirement is one of the biggest reasons for job availability as well as people leaving the industry for other careers.

Where Elevator Technicians Work

There are a variety of opportunities for work in this field. Below are some of the types of companies that hire mechanics.

  • Construction companies
  • Private companies that own buildings with elevators
  • Building maintenance companies
  • Elevator manufacturers

As with most skilled trades, you can also go it alone and work as an independent contractor or start your own company.

Finding Elevator Mechanic Jobs

Because the elevator industry is relatively small in comparison to other skilled trade careers landing that first job may be a bit challenging.

Below are some ways to land that first job!

  • Join trade associations like NAEC, they often provide job postings or networking opportunities.
  • Follow industry-leading websites or publications which may share opportunities.
  • Attend career fairs.
  • Submit applications directly with companies – even if they have no current openings, they might in the future.
  • Build relationships with those already employed in the field who can help advocate for you.

Resources

There are so many great resources to help you get started in the industry!

Below are some industry websites that can offer more information and advice for working in the field of elevator repair and installation.

You can also read through some great Reddit threads to get more information.

Final Thoughts

The job of an elevator mechanic is not for everyone. It requires a special set of skills, knowledge and experience to be successful in this role. But with the right training and certifications, you could become an elevator mechanic who has the potential to earn a steady stream of income while working in one of the most important service occupations available today.

Safety should always come first when it comes to any type of mechanical work, so being aware of all safety protocols associated with elevators is essential for anyone looking to pursue a career as an elevator mechanic. Additionally, having a flexible schedule that allows for on-call shifts may also be necessary depending on your employer’s requirements.

Ultimately, those interested in becoming an elevator mechanic should research local job openings and look into additional training or certification programs available to further their qualifications. With hard work and dedication, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed as an elevator mechanic!