Garage Door Mechanic
Garage Door Mechanic
Education and Training: Some training
Salary: Median—$15.17 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Garage door mechanics install, repair, and service many kinds of garage doors and door openers. They may also install and service other types of mechanical doors, such as automatic sliding doors at shopping centers, remote-controlled gates, and rolling shutters that cover windows during high winds. A mechanic's job is important, because a broken door can quickly become a safety issue, in addition to frustrating a homeowner trying to get a car out of the garage.
Most garage doors are made up of hinged panels made of steel or fiberglass. Some are insulated. Almost all have some kind of weather strip across the bottom to form a seal with the garage floor. Most of the doors move up and down on rollers in a metal track that has been fastened to the walls of the garage. The weight of the door is supported by a series of springs, cables, and pulleys. All doors can be operated manually. An electronic door opener is not actually a part of the door, but is attached to the ceiling above the door. It has a device, sometimes called a traveler, that moves along a separate track. The traveler is connected to a metal rod that is attached to a bracket on the garage door. When the opener is activated, the traveler moves along its track and moves the door up or down.
Mechanics must know the parts of a door in detail and be able to install them with precision and speed. When they are called to repair a door or opening mechanism, they inspect and test each part, looking for the cause of the trouble. Once the problem has been identified, mechanics repair or replace the broken part or make the needed adjustments. This work is usually done at the job site. Dealers usually have the most commonly used parts in stock. Some parts, such as customized door panels or windows, may have to be ordered and replaced at a later time.
Mechanics do routine maintenance in commercial applications. They inspect and adjust the doors regularly. Usually they apply oil and replace parts before they wear out. Homeowners rarely call a mechanic to do routine maintenance.
Garage door mechanics use screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and a variety of power tools. Power hoists may also be used for installation and repair of large doors, especially those in commercial installations.
Education and Training Requirements
There are several ways to learn about garage doors and mechanics. Many mechanics begin working with tools in a high school shop class, where they learn basic skills in carpentry or in machine installation and repair. They may also take classes devoted to electronics or automobile repair. Often they start by learning to repair their own equipment. Other mechanics begin by taking courses in trade, vocational, and technical schools. Still other mechanics begin by working as trainees for dealerships. Often a combination of work experience and classroom instruction is involved in learning the trade.
Workers in this field must be able to use many different tools, read and understand diagrams, and be mechanically inclined. They should also be in good physical condition, because they regularly lift and move objects, frequently overhead. They should be able to work in teams.
Getting the Job
All entry-level jobs in this field are trainee positions. The placement offices of vocational and technical schools should have information about job openings. Other sources include equipment suppliers and building contractors. They are listed in the Yellow Pages. State employment offices, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet can also provide job leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Garage door mechanics are at the top of their craft. With experience, they can become crew leaders or, in larger companies, supervisors. Many of them are self-employed and work as subcontractors for dealerships.
Employment for garage door mechanics and other mechanical door repairers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all jobs through 2014. Their work is related to the level of building construction. New buildings, both commercial and residential, usually have a garage door or other mechanical door, so work opportunities will exist as long as there is new construction. Mechanics will also be necessary to service and replace garage doors and other mechanical doors that are already in use. The best opportunities will be for those with the most extensive training and the best work record.
Almost all of the mechanic's work takes place outdoors. Mechanics may have to inspect and repair equipment when the weather is very hot or very cold. New doors need to be installed in any season. Work may be reduced in some areas because of winter conditions. Mechanics must be strong and agile, for much of their work involves standing on ladders or scaffolding, installing equipment overhead. New construction sites are usually dirty and noisy. Mechanics often wear special ear protection, goggles, and other safety gear.
Garage door mechanics work irregular hours, including nights and weekends. When a garage door or other mechanical door breaks, it usually needs to be fixed quickly. In commercial installations especially, immediate repairs may be necessary for public safety. A higher wage is sometimes paid for weekend and overtime work.
Where to Go for More Information
Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association International
1300 Sumner Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115-2851
Earnings and Benefits
The median wage for garage door and other mechanical door mechanics in 2004 was $15.17 per hour. Mechanics may receive benefits, such as paid vacations, health and life insurance, and pension plans. Self-employed mechanics have to make their own arrangements for benefits.