Home Appliance Repairers
- Good job prospects are expected, with job openings continuing
to outnumber jobseekers.
- Individuals with formal training in appliance repair and electronics
should have the best opportunities.
- Overall employment is projected to grow more slowly than average,
reflecting average growth among wage and salary workers and
a decline among self-employed repairers.
- Repairers of small household appliances usually are trained
on the job, whereas repairers of large household appliances
often are trained in a formal trade school, in a community college,
or directly from the appliance manufacturer.
Anyone 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, and dryers.
Home appliance repairers visually inspect appliances and check
for unusual noises, excessive vibration, leakage of fluid, or
loose parts to determine why the appliances fail to operate properly.
They use service manuals, troubleshooting guides, and experience
to diagnose particularly difficult problems. Repairers disassemble
the appliance to examine its internal parts for signs of wear
or corrosion. They 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, home appliance repairers 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 handtools, 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.
When repairing refrigerators and window air-conditioners, repairers
must take care to conserve, recover, and recycle chlorofluorocarbon
(CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants used in
the cooling systems, as is required by law. Repairers conserve
the refrigerant by making sure that there are no leaks in the
system; they recover the refrigerant by venting it into proper
cylinders; and they recycle the refrigerant with special filter-dryers
so that it can be used again. Federal regulations also require
that home appliance repairers document the capture and disposal
Home appliance repairers generally install household durable
goods such as refrigerators, washing machines, and cooking products.
They may have to install pipes in a customer’s home to connect
the appliances to the gas line. They measure, lay out, cut, thread,
and connect pipe to a feeder line and then to the appliance. They
may have to saw holes in walls or floors and hang steel supports
from beams or joists in order 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 about 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 their 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.
Home appliance repairers who handle portable appliances usually
work in repair shops that generally are quiet and adequately lighted
and 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 on
their service calls. Repairers may spend several hours a day driving
to and from appointments and emergency calls. They may work in
clean, comfortable rooms such as kitchens, but they also may work
in damp, dirty, or dusty areas of homes. Repairers sometimes work
in cramped and uncomfortable positions when they are replacing
parts in hard-to-reach areas of appliances. Repairer jobs generally
are not hazardous, but workers must exercise care and follow safety
precautions to avoid electrical shocks and prevent injuries when
lifting and moving large appliances. When repairing gas appliances
and microwave ovens, repairers must be aware of the dangers of
gas and radio-frequency energy leaks.
Home appliance repairers usually work with little or no direct
supervision, a feature of the job that is appealing to many people.
Many home appliance repairers work a standard 40-hour week, but
may work overtime and weekend hours in the summer months, when
they are in high demand to fix air-conditioners and refrigerators.
Some repairers work early morning, evening, and weekend shifts
and may remain on call in case of an emergency.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Employers generally require a high school diploma for home appliance
repairer jobs. Once employed, repairers of small appliances usually
are trained on the job, whereas repairers of large household appliances
often are trained in a formal trade school, in a community college,
or directly from the appliance manufacturer. Mechanical and electrical
aptitudes are 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
important 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 from 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 also may 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 be certified in
the proper handling of refrigerants. In order to become certified,
a technician must pass a written examination. Exams are administered
by EPA-approved organizations, such as trade schools, unions,
and employer associations. There also are EPA-approved take-home
certification exams. Although no formal training is required for
certification, many of these organizations offer training programs
designed to prepare workers for the certification examination.
In addition to earning the certification required by the EPA,
home appliance repairers may exhibit their competence by passing
one of several certification examinations offered by various organizations.
Although voluntary, such certifications can be helpful when seeking
employment. The National Appliance Service Technician Certification
(NASTeC), which is administered by the International Society of
Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET), requires repairers
to pass a comprehensive examination that tests their competence
in the diagnosis, repair, and maintenance of major home appliances.
Examinations are given in three specialty areas of appliance repair:
refrigeration and air-conditioning; cooking; and laundry and dishwashing.
Although the NASTeC credential does not expire, continuing education
classes are available so that repairers can keep abreast of technological
changes. The Professional Service Association (PSA) administers
a similar certification program. Those who pass the PSA examination
earn the Certified Appliance Professional (CAP) designation, which
is valid for 4 years. If CAP-certified repairers complete at least
15 credit hours of instruction each year during the 4 years, they
need not take the examination to become recertified. Otherwise,
they must take the examination again to become recertified.
Repairers in large shops or service centers may be promoted to
supervisor, assistant service manager, or service manager. Some
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 other workers and customers.
Experienced repairers who have sufficient funds and knowledge
of small-business management may open their own repair shops.
Home appliance repairers held 50,000 jobs in 2004. About 42 percent
of salaried repairers worked in retail trade establishments such
as department stores and electronics and appliance stores. About
20 percent of repairers are self-employed. Almost every community
in the country employs home appliance repairers; a high concentration
of jobs is found in more populated areas.
Good job prospects are expected, with job openings continuing
to outnumber jobseekers. Many prospective workers may choose not
to enter this occupation, because they prefer work that is less
strenuous and that is performed under more comfortable working
conditions. Individuals with formal training in appliance repair
and electronics should have the best opportunities.
Overall employment of home appliance repairers is expected to
increase more slowly than the average for all occupations through
the year 2014. Slower-than-average employment growth is expected
among wage and salary workers, while the number of self-employed
home appliance repairers is projected to decline.
The number of home appliances in use is expected to increase
with growth in the numbers of households and businesses. Appliances
also are becoming more technologically advanced and will increasingly
require a skilled technician to diagnose and fix problems. In
recent years, consumers have tended to purchase new appliances
when existing warranties expire rather repair old appliances.
However, over the next decade, as more consumers purchase higher
priced appliances designed to have much longer lives, they will
be more likely to use repair services than to purchase new appliances.
Employment is relatively steady during economic downturns because
there is still demand for appliance repair services. In addition
to new jobs created over the 2004–14 period, openings will arise
as home appliance repairers retire or transfer to other occupations.
Jobs are expected to be increasingly concentrated in larger companies
as the number of smaller shops and family-owned businesses declines.
However, repairers who maintain strong industry relationships
may still go into business for themselves.
Median annual earnings, including commissions, of home appliance
repairers were $ 32,180 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned
between $23,510 and $41,090 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned
less than $17,890, and the highest 10 percent earned more than
$49,760 a year. Median annual earnings of home appliance repairers
in May 2004 were $30,840 in electronics and appliance stores and
$33,790 in personal and household goods repair and maintenance.
Earnings of home appliance repairers vary with the skill level
required to fix equipment, the geographic location, and the type
of equipment repaired. Because many repairers receive a commission
along with their salary, earnings increase with the number of
jobs a repairer can complete in a day.
Many larger dealers, manufacturers, and service stores offer
typical 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.
Other workers who repair electrical and electronic equipment
include electrical and electronics installers and repairers; electronic
home entertainment equipment installers and repairers; small-engine
mechanics; coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and
repairers; and heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics
|Sources of Additional Information
For general information about the work of home appliance repairers,
contact any of the following organizations:
- North American Retail Dealers Association, 10 E. 22nd St.,
Suite 310, Lombard, IL 60148.
- National Appliance Service Association, P.O. Box 2514, Kokomo,
- United Servicers Association, Inc., P.O. Box 31006, Albuquerque,
For information on the National Appliance Service Technician
Certification program, contact:
- International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians,
3608 Pershing Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76107. Internet: http://www.iscet.org/
For information on the Certified Appliance Professional program,
- Professional Service Association, 71 Columbia St., Cohoes,
- Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics,
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,