Home Appliance and Power Tool Repairers Career Information
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Significant Points· Although employment of home appliance repairers
is expected to grow slowly, opportunities should be good for skilled repairers.
· Many repairers are high school graduates who are trained on the job.
· Knowledge of basic electronics is becoming increasingly important.
Nature of the WorkAnyone whose washer, dryer,
or refrigerator has ever broken knows the importance of a dependable repair
person. Home appliance repairers, often called service technicians, keep home
appliances working and help prevent unwanted breakdowns. Some repairers work
specifically on small appliances such as microwaves and vacuum cleaners; others
specialize in major appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washers,
Home appliance repairers visually inspect appliances and check for unusual noises, excessive vibration, fluid leaks, or loose parts to determine why they fail to operate properly. They use service manuals, troubleshooting guides, and experience to diagnose particularly difficult problems. They disassemble the appliance to examine its internal parts for signs of wear or corrosion. Repairers follow wiring diagrams and use testing devices such as ammeters, voltmeters, and wattmeters to check electrical systems for shorts and faulty connections.
After identifying problems, they replace or repair defective belts, motors, heating elements, switches, gears, or other items. They tighten, align, clean, and lubricate parts as necessary. Repairers use common hand tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches, files, and pliers, as well as soldering guns and special tools designed for particular appliances. When repairing appliances with electronic parts, they may replace circuit boards or other electronic components.
Many manufacturers incorporate "fuzzy logic" technology into their newer and more expensive appliances. Fuzzy logic technology involves sensors, or inputs, strategically placed inside an appliance to transmit information to an on-board computer. The computer processes this information and adjusts variables such as water and electricity, to optimize appliance performance and reduce wasted resources. Fuzzy logic uses 1 input; "neurofuzzy logic" uses up to 5 inputs; and "chaos logic" uses up to 10 inputs. Dishwashers, washers, and dryers commonly use neurofuzzy logic in their components.
When repairing refrigerators and window air-conditioners, repairers must use care to conserve, recover, and recycle chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants used in their cooling systems as required by law. Repairers conserve the refrigerant by making sure there are no leaks in the system; they recover the refrigerant by venting it into proper cylinders; and they recycle the refrigerant for reuse with special filter-dryers. Federal regulations also require that home appliance repairers document the capture and disposal of refrigerants.
Home appliance installers generally install "white goods" such as refrigerators, washing machines and stoves. They may have to install pipes in a customer's home to connect the appliances to the gas line. They measure, lay out, cut, and thread pipe and connect it to a feeder line and to the appliance. They may have to saw holes in walls or floors and hang steel supports from beams or joists to hold gas pipes in place. Once the gas line is in place, they turn on the gas and check for leaks. Gas appliance repairers check the heating unit and replace tubing, thermocouples, thermostats, valves, and indicator spindles. They also answer emergency calls for gas leaks.
Repairers also answer customers' questions about the care and use of appliances. For example, they demonstrate how to load automatic washing machines, arrange dishes in dishwashers, or sharpen chain saws to maximize performance.
Repairers write up estimates of the cost of repairs for customers, keep records of parts used and hours worked, prepare bills, and collect payments. Self-employed repairers also deal with the original appliance manufacturers to recoup monetary claims for work performed on appliances still under warranty.
Working ConditionsHome appliance repairers
who handle portable appliances usually work in repair shops that are generally
quiet, well lighted, and adequately ventilated. Those who repair major appliances
usually make service calls to customers' homes. They carry their tools and a
number of commonly used parts with them in a truck or van for use on their service
calls. A repairer may spend several
hours a day driving to and from appointments and emergency calls. They may work
in clean comfortable rooms such as kitchens, or in damp, dirty, or dusty areas
of a home. Repairers sometimes work in cramped and uncomfortable positions when
they're replacing parts in hard-to-reach areas of appliances.
Repairer jobs generally are not hazardous, but they must exercise care and follow safety precautions to avoid electrical shocks and injuries when lifting and moving large appliances. When repairing gas appliances and microwave ovens, they must be aware of the dangers of gas and radiation leaks.
Many home appliance repairers work a standard 40-hour week. Some repairers work early morning, evening, and weekend shifts. Many repairers remain on-call in case of emergency. Many repairers work overtime and weekend hours in the summer months, when they are in high demand to fix air-conditioners and refrigerators.
Home appliance repairers usually work with little or no direct supervision, a feature of the job that appeals to many people.
EmploymentHome appliance repairers held nearly 43,000 jobs in 2009. More than 20 percent of repairers are self-employed. About 40 percent of salaried repairers worked in retail establishments such as department stores, household appliance stores, and fuel dealers. Others worked for gas and electric utility companies, electrical repair shops, and wholesalers.
Almost every community in the country employs appliance repairers; a high concentration of jobs are found in more populated areas.
Training, Qualifications, Adv.Employers generally require
a high school diploma for home appliance repairer jobs. Repairers of small appliances
commonly learn the trade on the job; repairers of large household appliances
often receive their training in a formal trade school, community college, or
directly from the appliance manufacturer. Mechanical aptitude is desirable,
and those who work in customers' homes must be courteous and tactful.
Employers prefer to hire people with formal training in appliance repair and electronics. Many repairers complete 1- or 2-year formal training programs in appliance repair and related subjects in high schools, private vocational schools, and community colleges. Courses in basic electricity and electronics are becoming increasingly necessary as more manufacturers install circuit boards and other electronic control systems in home appliances.
Whether their basic skills are developed through formal training or on the job, trainees usually receive additional training from their employer and manufacturers. In shops that fix portable appliances, they work on a single type of appliance, such as a vacuum cleaner, until they master its repair. Then they move on to others, until they can repair all those handled by the shop. In companies that repair major appliances, beginners assist experienced repairers on service visits. They may also study on their own. They learn to read schematic drawings, analyze problems, determine whether to repair or replace parts, and follow proper safety procedures. Up to 3 years of on-the-job training may be needed for a technician to become skilled in all aspects of repair.
Some appliance manufacturers and department store chains have formal training programs that include home study and shop classes, in which trainees work with demonstration appliances and other training equipment. Many repairers receive supplemental instruction through 2- or 3-week seminars conducted by appliance manufacturers. Experienced repairers also often attend training classes and study service manuals. Repairers authorized for warranty work by manufacturers are required to attend periodic training sessions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that all repairers who buy or work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling; a technician must pass a written examination to become certified to buy and handle refrigerants. Exams are administered by organizations approved by the EPA, such as trade schools, unions, and employer associations. There are even EPA-approved take-home certification exams. Though no formal training is required for certification, many of these organizations offer training programs designed to prepare workers for the certification examination.
To protect consumers and recognize highly skilled home appliance repairers, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers has instituted the National Appliance Service Technician Certification Program (NASTeC). Together, manufacturers, schools, and field experts write questions that measure the skills of their trade. To become certified, technicians must pass a comprehensive examination testing their competence in the diagnosis, repair, and maintenance of major home appliances. The examination is given on demand at locations throughout the country. While there has not previously been standardized certification, growing numbers of employers now encourage repairers to become certified.
The Professional Service Association (PSA) has a certification program with similar goals to the NASTeC program—to recognize skilled repairers. To become certified, technicians must pass an examination. The PSA certification is valid for 4 years. If certified technicians complete at least 15 credit hours of instruction every year during the 4 years, then the technicians need not sit for the examination for recertification. Otherwise, they must retake the examination.
Repairers in large shops or service centers may be promoted to supervisor, assistant service manager, or service manager. A few repairers advance to managerial positions such as regional service manager or parts manager for appliance or tool manufacturers. Preference is given to those who demonstrate technical competence and show an ability to get along with coworkers and customers. Experienced repairers who have sufficient funds and knowledge of small business management may open their own repair shop.
of home appliance repairers is expected to increase more slowly than the average
for all occupations through the year 2010. Prospects should continue to be good
for well-trained repairers, particularly those with a strong background in electronics.
The number of home appliances
in use is expected to increase with growth in the number of households and businesses.
In the past, employment growth of home appliance repairers has been limited
because of the need for less frequent repairs due to solid-state circuitry,
microprocessors, and sensing devices in appliances. Also, many consumers tended
to purchase new appliances when existing warranties expired rather than invest
in repairs on old appliances, further reducing the need for home appliance repairers.
These employment limitations could be somewhat offset over the next decade as
more consumers purchase higher priced appliances designed to have much longer
lives, making consumers more likely to use repair service than to purchase new
appliances. Moreover, as home appliance repairers retire or transfer to other
occupations, additional job openings will arise.
The availability of manufacturer-sponsored training programs could limit employment growth. Manufacturers often make these programs available only to large equipment dealers, thereby discouraging repairers from becoming self-employed or working for small shops. Many self-employed repairers are forced to join larger shops so that they can stay abreast of developments in the industry. Jobs are expected to be increasingly concentrated in larger companies as the number of smaller shops and family-owned businesses declines. However, those repairers that maintain strong industry relationships may still go into business for themselves.
Employment is relatively steady because the demand for appliance repair services continues even during economic downturns. However, during economic slowdowns some repair shops may lay off repairers.
EarningsMedian annual earnings, including commission, of home appliance repairers were $32,860 in 2009. The middle 50 percent earned between $27,840 and $48,040 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $45,750 a year. Median annual earnings in the two industries employing the largest numbers of home appliance repairers in 2006 were $27,560 in electrical repair shops and $24,860 in household appliance stores.
Earnings of home appliance repairers vary according to the skill level required to fix equipment, geographic location, and the type of equipment repaired. Because many repairers receive commission along with their salary, earnings increase along with the number of jobs a repairer can complete in a day.
Many larger dealers, manufacturers and service stores offer benefits such as health insurance coverage, sick leave, and retirement and pension programs. Some home appliance repairers belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Related OccupationsOther workers
who repair electrical and electronic equipment include heating, air-conditioning, and
refrigeration mechanics and installers; small engine mechanics; office machine
and cash register servicers; electronic home entertainment equipment installers
and repairers; and coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and repairers.
For general information about the work of home appliance repairers, contact any of the following organizations: For information on the National Appliance Service Technician Certification program, contact: For information on the Certified Appliance Professional program, contact:
Sources of Additional Information
For general information about the work of home appliance repairers, contact any of the following organizations:
For information on the National Appliance Service Technician Certification program, contact:
For information on the Certified Appliance Professional program, contact: