Occupation Profile for Elevator Installers and Repairers

Assemble, install, repair, or maintain electric or hydraulic freight or passenger elevators, escalators, or dumbwaiters.


Significant Points

  • Most workers belong to a union and enter the occupation through a 4-year apprenticeship program.
  • Excellent employment opportunities are expected.
  • Elevator installers and repairers are less affected by downturns in the economy and inclement weather than other construction trades workers.


$63,620.00 Median Annual Wage 1,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
2.0 Average Unemployment Percentage 48.0 Percentage That Completed High School
22,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 42.2 Percentage That Had Some College
24,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 9.8 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Apprentice, Elevator Installer
Apprentice, Elevator Mechanic
Apprentice, Elevator Repairer
Elevator Adjuster
Elevator Builder
Elevator Constructor
Elevator Erector
Elevator Examiner and Adjuster
Elevator Mechanic
Elevator Repair and Maintenance Technician
Elevator Repairer Apprentice
Elevator Service Mechanic
Elevator Service Technician
Elevator Serviceman
Elevator Technician
Elevator Troubleshooter
Escalator Installer
Escalator Service Mechanic
Freight Elevator Erector
Hydraulic Elevator Constructor
Maintenance Worker, Elevator Installation and Repair
Maintenance, Elevator Installation and Repair
Mechanic, Elevator
Mechanic, Escalator
Repairer, Elevator

  • These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include funeral directors, electricians, forest and conservation technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.

Most elevator installers receive their education through an apprenticeship program. High school classes in mathematics, science, and shop may help applicants compete for apprenticeship openings.

Education and training. Most elevators installers and repairers learn their trade in an apprenticeship program administered by local joint educational committees representing the employers and the union—the International Union of Elevator Constructors. In nonunion shops, workers may complete training programs sponsored by independent contractors.

Apprenticeship programs teach a range of skills, usually during a 4-year period. Programs combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction in blueprint reading, electrical and electronic theory, mathematics, applications of physics, and safety.

Most apprentices assist experienced elevator installers and repairers. Beginners carry materials and tools, bolt rails to walls, and assemble elevator cars. Eventually, apprentices learn more difficult tasks such as wiring.

Applicants for apprenticeship positions must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. High school courses in electricity, mathematics, and physics provide a useful background. As elevators become increasingly sophisticated, workers may need to get more advanced education—for example, a certificate or associate degree in electronics. Workers with education beyond high school usually advance more quickly than their counterparts without a degree.

Many elevator installers and repairers receive additional training in their particular company’s equipment.

Licensure. Most cities and States require elevator installers and repairers to pass a licensing examination. Other requirements for licensure vary.

Certification and other qualifications. Workers who also complete an apprenticeship registered by the U.S. Department of Labor or their State board earn a journeyworker certificate recognized Nationwide. Applicants for apprenticeship positions must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and pass a drug test and an aptitude test. Good physical condition and mechanical aptitude also are important.

Jobs with many employers require membership in the union. To be considered fully qualified by the union, workers must complete an apprenticeship and pass a standard exam administered by the National Elevator Industry Educational Program.

The National Association of Elevator Contractors also offers certification as a Certified Elevator Technician or Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician.

Advancement. Ongoing training is very important if a worker is to keep up with technological developments in elevator repair. In fact, union elevator installers and repairers typically receive training throughout their careers, through correspondence courses, seminars, or formal classes. This training greatly improves one’s chances for promotion and retention.

Some installers may receive further training in specialized areas and advance to the position of mechanic-in-charge, adjuster, supervisor, or elevator inspector. Adjusters, for example, may be picked for their position because they possess particular skills or are electronically inclined. Other workers may move into management, sales, or product design jobs.

Nature of Work

Elevator installers and repairers—also called elevator constructors or elevator mechanics—assemble, install, and replace elevators, escalators, chairlifts, dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and similar equipment in new and old buildings. Once the equipment is in service, they maintain and repair it as well. They also are responsible for modernizing older equipment.

To install, repair, and maintain modern elevators, which are almost all electronically controlled, elevator installers and repairers must have a thorough knowledge of electronics, electricity, and hydraulics. Many elevators are controlled with microprocessors, which are programmed to analyze traffic conditions in order to dispatch elevators in the most efficient manner. With these controls, it is possible to get the greatest amount of service with the fewest number of cars.

Elevator installers and repairers usually specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair work. Maintenance and repair workers generally need greater knowledge of electricity and electronics than do installers because a large part of maintenance and repair work is troubleshooting.

When installing a new elevator, installers and repairers begin by studying blueprints to determine the equipment needed to install rails, machinery, car enclosures, motors, pumps, cylinders, and plunger foundations. Then, they begin equipment installation. Working on scaffolding or platforms, installers bolt or weld steel rails to the walls of the shaft to guide the elevator.

Elevator installers put in electrical wires and controls by running tubing, called conduit, along a shaft’s walls from floor to floor. Once the conduit is in place, mechanics pull plastic-covered electrical wires through it. They then install electrical components and related devices required at each floor and at the main control panel in the machine room.

Installers bolt or weld together the steel frame of an elevator car at the bottom of the shaft; install the car’s platform, walls, and doors; and attach guide shoes and rollers to minimize the lateral motion of the car as it travels through the shaft. They also install the outer doors and door frames at the elevator entrances on each floor.

For cabled elevators, these workers install geared or gearless machines with a traction drive wheel that guides and moves heavy steel cables connected to the elevator car and counterweight. (The counterweight moves in the opposite direction from the car and balances most of the weight of the car to reduce the weight that the elevator’s motor must lift.) Elevator installers also install elevators in which a car sits on a hydraulic plunger that is driven by a pump. The plunger pushes the elevator car up from underneath, similar to a lift in an auto service station.

Installers and repairers also install escalators. They place the steel framework, the electrically powered stairs, and the tracks and install associated motors and electrical wiring. In addition to elevators and escalators, installers and repairers also may install devices such as dumbwaiters and material lifts—which are similar to elevators in design—as well as moving walkways, stair lifts, and wheelchair lifts.

Once an elevator is operating properly, it must be maintained and serviced regularly to keep it in safe working condition. Elevator installers and repairers generally do preventive maintenance—such as oiling and greasing moving parts, replacing worn parts, testing equipment with meters and gauges, and adjusting equipment for optimal performance. They insure that the equipment and rooms are clean. They also troubleshoot and may be called to do emergency repairs. Unlike most elevator installers, those who specialize in elevator maintenance are on their own most of the day and typically service the same elevators periodically.

A service crew usually handles major repairs—for example, replacing cables, elevator doors, or machine bearings. This may require the use of cutting torches or rigging equipment—tools that an elevator repairer would not normally carry. Service crews also do major modernization and alteration work, such as moving and replacing electrical motors, hydraulic pumps, and control panels.

The most highly skilled elevator installers and repairers, called adjusters, specialize in fine-tuning all the equipment after installation. Adjusters make sure that an elevator works according to specifications and stops correctly at each floor within a specified time. Adjusters need a thorough knowledge of electricity, electronics, and computers to ensure that newly installed elevators operate properly.

Work environment. Elevator installers lift and carry heavy equipment and parts, and they may work in cramped spaces or awkward positions. Potential hazards include falls, electrical shock, muscle strains, and other injuries related to handling heavy equipment. Most of their work is performed indoors in existing buildings or buildings under construction.

Most elevator installers and repairers work a 40-hour week. However, overtime is required when essential equipment must be repaired, and some workers are on 24-hour call. Because most of their work is performed indoors in buildings, elevator installers and repairers lose less work time due to inclement weather than do other construction trades workers.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Earnings of elevator installers and repairers are among the highest of all construction trades. Median hourly earnings of wage and salary elevator installers and repairers were $30.59 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $23.90 and $35.76. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17.79, and the top 10 percent earned more than $42.14. Median hourly earnings in the building equipment contractors industry were $30.74.

Earnings for members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors vary based on the local and specialty. Check with a local in your area for exact wages.

About three out of four elevator installers and repairers were members of unions or covered by a union contract, one of the highest proportions of all occupations. The largest numbers were members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors. In addition to free continuing education, elevator installers and repairers receive basic benefits enjoyed by most other workers.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Elevator installers and repairers
  • Job Outlook

    Even with average job growth, excellent job opportunities are expected in this occupation.

    Employment change. Employment of elevator installers and repairers is expected to increase 9 percent during the 2006-16 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for additional elevator installers depends greatly on growth in nonresidential construction, such as commercial office buildings and stores that have elevators and escalators. This sector of the construction industry is expected to grow during the decade as the economy expands. In addition, the need to continually 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. The demand for elevator installers and repairers will also increase as a growing number of the elderly require easier access to their homes through stair lifts and residential elevators.

    Job prospects. Workers should have excellent opportunities when seeking to enter this occupation. Elevator installer and repairer jobs have relatively high earnings and good benefits. However, the dangerous and physically challenging nature of this occupation and the significant training it requires reduces the number of applicants and creates better opportunities for those who apply. Job prospects should be best for those with postsecondary education in electronics or experience in the military.

    Elevators, escalators, lifts, moving walkways, and related equipment need to be kept in good working condition year round, so employment of elevator repairers is less affected by economic downturns and seasonality than other construction trades.


    Elevator installers and repairers held about 22,000 jobs in 2006. Most were employed by specialty trades contractors, particularly elevator maintenance and repair contractors. Others were employed by field offices of elevator manufacturers, machinery wholesalers, government agencies, or businesses that do their own elevator maintenance and repair.

    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    • Core — Assemble elevator cars, installing each car's platform, walls, and doors.
    • Core — Check that safety regulations and building codes are met, and complete service reports verifying conformance to standards.
    • Core — Install outer doors and door frames at elevator entrances on each floor of a structure.
    • Core — Connect electrical wiring to control panels and electric motors.
    • Core — Install electrical wires and controls by attaching conduit along shaft walls from floor to floor, then pulling plastic-covered wires through the conduit.
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
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