Elevator Installer and Repair Worker
Elevator Installer and Repair Worker
Education and Training: High school plus apprenticeship
Salary: Median—$28.23 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Elevator installers build elevators, dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and escalators. They repair broken elevators, modernize older models, and perform maintenance duties. They work in all types of buildings, including skyscrapers and low-rise office buildings.
Most elevators run electronically and contain microprocessors for efficient operation, although some rely on counterweight or hydraulic systems. Elevators are usually installed in new buildings during construction. Installers, who are also known as elevator constructors or elevator mechanics, first study blueprints to see how the elevator car will be installed. Then, using scaffolding, they bolt or weld the guide rails to the side walls of the elevator shaft and set the hoisting machine, the frame, and the platform of the passenger car in place. Next the body and the roof of the car are installed. The workers also install other machinery, plungers, cables, hydraulic systems, and the electrical wiring in the car and from floor to floor in the elevator shaft. The elevator is then tested to see that it is operating properly. The testing is often done by highly skilled installers who are known as adjusters.
Elevator installers use similar methods to construct dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and escalators. Dumbwaiters are small lifts used to transport food and other things from floor to floor. They are sometimes used in large buildings in which the kitchen and dining rooms are on different floors.
Repair workers fix elevators that are not operating. They may also convert old, manually operated elevators to automatic elevators. Workers who perform maintenance duties must oil and grease the moving parts of an elevator. Elevator repair workers also adjust or replace control systems, signal systems, and hoisting mechanisms.
Skilled elevator installers have a working knowledge of electricity and electronics; repair workers must have a more complete understanding of electronics because they troubleshoot problems. Elevator workers use hand and power tools and meters and gauges for testing.
Education and Training Requirements
A prospective elevator installer or repair worker must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and be at least eighteen years old. Mechanical aptitude and an interest in machinery are very important. Most are trained in a joint union-management program that involves on-the-job training and classroom work. Trainees usually become helpers after six months of experience. They learn from experienced craft workers. They also attend classes in mathematics, physics, safety techniques, and electrical and electronics theory. Within four years helpers can become fully qualified workers. Trainees must pass an examination administered by the National Elevator Industry Educational Program. State and city governments often require that elevator installers and repair workers be licensed.
Getting the Job
Most elevator installers and repair workers get their jobs through the local office of the International Union of Elevator Constructors. Those who are just starting out join an apprenticeship program with a local elevator construction crew. Most elevator-manufacturing firms employ such crews to install, modernize, and repair their equipment. Classified ads in the newspaper may also list job openings.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Experienced elevator constructors can become supervisors in large elevator manufacturing companies. Experienced workers may also start their own contracting businesses. The opportunities, however, are limited.
About twenty-two thousand people are employed as elevator installers and repair workers in the United States. This number is expected to grow as fast as the average for all jobs through the year 2014. Because of improvements in elevator manufacturing, some workers will be needed to modernize elevators. In general, the number of workers needed will depend on the state of the economy.
Elevator installation and repair workers must lift and carry heavy equipment. Usually helpers do most of the strenuous work. Most of the work is done indoors, so little work time is lost because of the weather. Elevator constructors and repair workers work in cramped quarters, usually in awkward positions. They usually work in small crews, although repair personnel may work on their own much of the time. Generally they work forty hours a week. Repair workers may be on call twenty-four hours a day. Extra wages are paid for overtime work. Many elevator constructors and repair workers belong to labor unions.
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings for elevator installers and repair workers vary, depending on the worker's experience and the location of the work. The median wage in 2004 was $28.23 per hour. Apprentices and helpers earn fifty percent of the rate experienced workers receive. This rate increases to seventy percent as they gain experience on the job.
Where to Go for More Information
International Union of Elevator Constructors
7154 Columbia Gateway Dr.
Columbia, MD 21046
National Association of Elevator Contractors
1298 Wellbrook Circle, Ste. A
Conyers, GA 30012
National Elevator Industry
1677 Country Rte. 64, PO Box 838
Salem, NY 12865-0838
Union members generally receive paid holidays, life insurance, and hospitalization and pension plans. The number of vacation days they receive depends on the number of days they work each year. Other benefits are negotiated separately for each union contract.