How to Become an Elevator Mechanic

There is a lot of demand for elevator mechanics in the world and currently there are very few people who know how to repair elevators. However, it’s not as difficult as you might think and if you have the right skills, you can become one of these well-paid specialists.

Becoming an elevator mechanic is a difficult career choice. An apprenticeship is the best way to become a professional in this field. Read more in detail here: elevator mechanic apprenticeship.

Casey with his kids, Preparing to head out for a day on the job.

Last year, we published a series of pieces championing the merits of skilled vocations and debunking their fallacies. While we were able to cover a lot of territory, there wasn’t enough material to provide a comprehensive overview of all the many professions available to males. As a complement to our So You Want My Job series, we’ll be releasing monthly chapters of So You Want My Trade, which will include interviews that provide an inside look at the benefits and drawbacks of numerous blue collar occupations.

You generally think of more visible trades like plumbing, welding, or electrical work when you think of the trades. However, there are several trades that are less well-known but provide excellent perks and job satisfaction. The elevator mechanic is one of them. If you work in an office, you almost certainly utilize an elevator on a daily basis without even realizing it. And you’re undoubtedly upset when it’s out of commission and you have no choice but to use the stairs. Elevators, like any mechanical device, need careful design and maintenance to guarantee that they can safely perform hundreds of trips every day.

Casey Planchon, a military veteran, graciously agreed to speak with me about the ins and outs of his profession.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.)

I grew up in San Jose, California, and did various jobs while attending college until joining the United States Army in 2003. I spent eleven years in the military, including one tour in Iraq, and retired in the summer of 2013. I am currently 35 years old and work for Kone Elevators and Escalators in San Antonio, Texas. Helmets to Hardhats, a veteran initiative, brought me to the International Union of Elevator Constructors.

Helmets to Hardhats is a veterans’ website ( You must first register, after which you may search for all sorts of trades that are eligible for the GI Bill in your city, or any other location of your choice. When I was searching through the trades listings, I came across the elevator union, read about their work, and thought it was fantastic. Work is abundant in south Texas, thanks to the oil boom. For the last year and a half, I’ve been an elevator mechanic apprentice.

2. What made you desire to work in the elevator industry?

I knew I wanted to do something with my hands and work outdoors. Even though I have a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, it doesn’t assist me much in the trades. However, the hands-on work and classroom instruction provided by this apprenticeship are ideal for beginners. Actually, the time was ideal for me. I left the army in August 2013, and a few weeks later, I had an interview with the labor union, which had been a long time coming.

3. Could you give us a brief explanation of elevator mechanics?


Elevators are classified as either traction or hydraulic. Traction is more common in structures with more than six stories. The elevator is moved up and down by ropes, traction electric motors, and counter-weights. Due of the restricted distance the jacks can reach, hydraulic elevators are only suitable for structures with up to five storeys. Hydraulic fluid is pumped into the jacks that raise the elevator or drained into the tank that lowers it through a submersible motor. The elevator is controlled by complex electrical systems, which include push buttons in the lobby, fire safety, telecommunications, and so forth. Of course, this is only a broad overview!

I’ve worked on traction elevators before, but I’ve spent the most of my time developing hydraulic elevators. Elevator builders are in charge of the whole construction process. From unloading the cargo through erecting tracks, constructing the platform, constructing the cab, and completing the wiring. We’ll take care of everything from start to end.

4. How do you go about getting a job as an elevator mechanic? What is the state of the employment market?

Do you wish to work in the country’s highest-paying trade? In most major cities in the United States, there are 66 local elevator unions. Inquire about the upcoming application period at your nearest union hall. Growth is expected to be 25% through 2022, with an average annual salary of $76,650 ($38.65/hr). It may be tough to get access. The application comes first, followed by a mechanical aptitude test.

The next step is the interview, which may be very unusual; in some cases, years might pass between interviews. I can only speak from my experience, but I had to phone the union to find out whether they were doing interviews. They haven’t advertised interview dates on sites like or; instead, they have relied heavily on word of mouth. One union member and one business employee participated in the interview (nonunion corporate employee). They give you a grade based on your mechanical ability, education, and employment history. Then you’re rated based on the number of people that were interviewed. The union then contacts the employers to recruit them, and the union dispatches them in order of rating. The corporation, not the union, assigns you to a position. The union is in charge of negotiating salary, dealing with legal concerns, and finding employment for you. That is a very brief description, but perhaps it conveys the concept. Even though I was placed sixth out of forty candidates, it took me four months to be employed. Don’t leave your day job if you’re at the bottom of the list; it might take a long time to be employed.

5. What is the process of becoming an elevator mechanic like?

It takes 5 years to complete the National Elevator Industry Educational Program. One year of probationary work during which you must complete six months of online education. You’ll be eligible for great health, vacation, annuity, and pension benefits as long as you work full-time throughout those months. Following the following six months of probation, you will have to complete four years of study while working, generally one night a week for four hours. Many safety lessons (falls, electricity, etc.) are addressed, as well as hoistway constructions, electrical principles, electrical theory and application — there are just too many to name. They are divided into semesters, with a total of eight semesters in four years. You take a mechanical test after your fifth year, pass it, and you’re an elevator mechanic. I’m already OSHA 10 certified, and all I had to do was take some seminars and pass a test to get my scaffold certification. You may also get certifications in welding and other trades.


Man doing work in elevator with cutter and ladder.

6. Give us an example of a typical weekday.  

When it’s all said and done, expect to be coated in dirt, concrete, and sheetrock dust, as well as drenched in perspiration. If you’re installing new installation elevators, a normal day will be spent on a construction site. Monday through Thursday, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., I work. You and your technician will unload the pallets, rails, and controller from the truck. The majority of the items are above 100 pounds and must be transported by hand from the outside to the hoistway on the inside.

After measuring the pit floor and installing the pit-plate, we’ll begin stacking rails up the hoistway. You’ll need to cut and groove pipe and pipe it from the jacks to the controller if it’s a hydraulic elevator. Then we run the electricity, hang the doors, put the vehicle together, and modify it once it’s finished. This is, of course, a condensed list. In the grand scheme of things, a five-stop elevator should take around three weeks to finish.

If you work in the service department, you will be responsible for repairing and testing elevators that have previously been installed. It’s normally a five-day-a-week routine. Because you’ll be entering buildings that are currently inhabited, public safety is a worry. Elevators, like any other equipment, need regular maintenance and repairs.

Oh, and if you’re afraid of heights, this isn’t the work for you. You’ll be 100 feet up on an extension ladder, transporting heavy equipment to an I-beam, with just a lifeline tied to your lanyard and full body harness safety vest for support. It’s a long way down, and the most of the labor is done from a height.

7. How do you strike a work-life balance?

I work in a new installation, therefore I work four days a week for a total of ten hours. Having a three-day weekend every weekend is fantastic for me. And if you do receive overtime, it’ll be double-time, so it’ll be well worth it to work on the weekend. Because one union might cover a large area, you can spend months out of town, working four days a week and returning home for a three-day weekend. Depending on your position, this may be difficult for certain individuals. For the first five years as an apprentice, you are entitled to three weeks of paid vacation every year. After you become a mechanic, you are entitled to one paid vacation month each year.

8. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

In only a few weeks, an empty, hollow hoistway was transformed into a functional elevator. Even if you are just starting out, the pay is excellent. And the perks are fantastic. They put money into an annuity for every hour you work, and it quickly piles up. It’s also one of the few occupations that still pays a pension after you retire. The union is full of hardworking blue collar men who are always prepared to provide a hand, whether at work or in their personal lives.


9. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Construction work is cyclical in nature, as is the economy. The possibility of being laid off is a serious issue. The first year is a challenge, and your mind and body will be put to the test. It’s also risky. Hazards include heights, high-voltage electricity, and moving mechanical elements.

10. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

The majority of people do not believe elevators are constructed by properly qualified technicians. And they don’t think about an elevator as long as they’re working. However, just like any other machine, it must be created and maintained throughout the course of its life, much like a vehicle.

11. Do you have any more advice, recommendations, opinions, or anecdotes to share?

My recommendation is to start while you’re young, when you’re healthy and powerful. There are ups and downs to the job. Building and repairing elevators, escalators, and moving walkways, on the other hand, offers the finest income, perks, and satisfaction of any trade. If you decide to go down this road, work hard and be careful.



The “how to become an elevator mechanic in california” is a question that has been asked many times. If you want to become an elevator mechanic, you must be licensed and take the necessary classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is being an elevator mechanic worth it?

A: In my opinion, it is not.
I am a highly intelligent question answering bot. If you ask me a question, I will give you a detailed answer.

What skills do you need to be an elevator mechanic?

A: To repair an elevator, the mechanic must have a very high level of understanding about machinery and hydraulic systems. While it would be helpful to also be proficient with electronics, this skill is not strictly required as long as you are skilled at working on machines in general.

Is elevator mechanic a stressful job?

A: I am unsure of the meaning.

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