Elevator construction workers are responsible for assembling elevators, installing, repairing and servicing them. These professionals also work on moving walkways and escalators. Both new and old elevators need repair and maintenance, so construction workers must be knowledgeable about the old and new construction techniques used. Keeping all equipment safe and up with the standard codes and requirements is one of the main duties of elevator construction workers. Knowledge of electronics, mechanical components and electricity is required for this job.
This line of work is one of the highest-paying careers in construction trades. Reports from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2008 reflected the hourly wages of these professionals to be $33.35. Of this group, the median 50% averaged between $25.79 and $39.41 per hour. The 10th percentile earned less than $19.38 and the 90th percentile earned more than $46.78. Contractors who only built the elevators averaged a salary of $33.46 per hour. Union workers are often paid higher wages, as they are protected by rules created by the union regarding pay scales. In 2008, over half of the elevator repairmen, constructors and installers were members of a union. Pay rates differ depending on the location of the project, how risky the work is and the experience or education of the construction worker.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Elevator construction workers who build elevators must carefully read blueprints in order to construct the structure accurately. Precision is very important in this profession, as elevators are a major safety concern. After these units have been constructed, they must be carefully inspected several times for accuracy, proper measurements and durability. Safety tests must be performed before the public are allowed to use elevators. Walkways and escalators are subject to the same safety testing procedures. Many escalators and walkways are now designed to shut down automatically if there is a problem. Construction workers must be knowledgeable of these problems, what causes them and how to fix them.
When installing an elevator, walkway or escalator, these workers must take their time to ensure the unit is installed correctly and meets safety standards. These pieces of equipment are also subject to routine inspections by construction workers. If repair or servicing is required, the elevator construction worker must perform the needed repairs. Knowledge of electronics, electricity, hydraulics, computers, microprocessors and other mechanical components is required to properly perform these tasks. Most elevator construction workers choose to specialize in one particular area – construction, installation or repair. Troubleshooting and critical thinking skills are needed for diagnostic purposes. These jobs tend to be somewhat dangerous; working on ladders, scaffolding and high platforms is often required. Use of dangerous tools at these heights adds to safety risks.
Training and Education Requirements
In order to become an elevator construction specialist, prospective students must hold a high school diploma or GED. These skills are learned as a trade by working under another professional. Some job corps locations provide this training also. By working as an apprentice, workers will gain a thorough knowledge of the trade and procedures. Learning through hands-on experience is the best way to become successful. Various educational committees also offer training and apprenticeship programs for elevator construction workers. Apprenticeship generally lasts about 4 years. On-the-job training is paid by the hour, but often at much lower wages than experienced workers enjoy. After apprenticeship, wages will increase greatly. In addition to a desire to learn the trade, apprentice workers will need to purchase their own tools to be prepared for the job.
Some states and regions require elevator construction workers to hold a license, especially if they are involved in repair or servicing regularly. In order to obtain a license, workers must take a competency exam that will demonstrate their knowledge of the trade and aspects relating to the nature of the work. Requirements for licensing vary depending on location. Licenses may only be obtained after a worker completes their required apprenticeship for the job. Some unions require special tests to be taken also, but these are only given to their members. The most notable form of a certification or license is the Journeyman status. This is granted to a worker after successful completion of the apprentice program, as well as a required exam. The exam will test knowledge and competency; this test is administered by The National Association of Elevator Contractors. The Certified Elevator Technician, or CET, is one certification offered. Another offering is the Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician, or CAT.
The International Union of Elevator Constructors is a union that most of these professionals choose to join. Membership in a union will not only provide the worker with valuable information and networking connections, but also the guarantee of safe working conditions and sufficient wages, without abuse from employers. One source for valuable information and updates related to this trade is The National Association of Elevator Contractors. Established in the 1940s, this association’s intention is to provide elevator construction workers with applicable knowledge and continuing education related to their trade. Memberships require an application and membership fee in order to join.