Automation may have made elevator operators obsolete, but it’s quite the opposite for those who install and repair elevators. A new analysis of the 2018 federal labor statistics breaks down construction’s top earners by job category. Among construction trades, elevator mechanic tops the median wages list, with half earning over $78,990 a year, and the top 25% making at least $100,720.
Below is the breakdown for the highest-paid field employees by occupation.
|Occupation||Median Income||Top 25%|
|Rotary drill operators||$68,050||$77,610|
|Construction and building inspector||$60,240||$80,580|
|Structural iron and steel worker||$54,730||$75,190|
|Sheet metal worker||$49,350||$69,050|
|Reinforcing iron and rebar worker||$49,050||$69,110|
Elevator mechanics face many challenges
Elevators are complex and becoming even more so. Elevator technology is moving so fast that it’s near impossible for technicians to keep pace. “Smart elevators” use algorithms to shuttle passengers more efficiently, and some technologies adjust the heat and air conditioning of office floors based on where people land. Meanwhile, technicians must also deal with elevators that date back to the 1930s, which can be unpredictable. With multiple cars that sometimes dispatch seemingly at their own will, a mix of old and new technologies that make them stubborn to fix, and new flight speeds of 100 floors per minute, being an elevator technician is a tough job.
Along with the challenge of keeping up with the technology is the challenge of keeping pace with maintenance calls. As property owners try to cut costs, technicians are reporting a dangerous lack of maintenance. As well, with the lack of skilled technicians and the increasing number of elevators to be serviced, some technicians rush through hundreds of maintenance jobs per month, reportedly with time limits as quick as seven minutes per visit. Politicians are pushing new policies, but still, increasing numbers of citizens are either getting stuck inside elevators, are stuck with dangerous ones, or are stuck with the stairs.
Elevator maintenance is a high-paying job, yet there’s still a mismatch of supply and demand. More mechanics need to be trained, if only to ease the demand on those already working in the field. There is obviously a great need for qualified technicians and an abundance of opportunity for a well-paying career.
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