Coin, Vending, and Amusement Machine Servicers and Repairers
Most workers in this occupation learn their skills on the
Opportunities should be especially good for persons with some
knowledge of electronics
Nature of the Work
Coin, vending, and amusement machines are a familiar sight
in offices, schools, arcades, and casinos. These machines
give out change, test our gaming skills, and dispense refreshments
nearly everywhere we turn. Coin, vending, and amusement machine
servicers and repairers install, service, and stock such machines
and keep them in good working order.
Vending machine servicers, often called route drivers,
visit machines that dispense soft drinks, candy and snacks,
and other items. They collect money from the coin and cash-operated
machines, restock merchandise, and change labels to indicate
new selections. They also keep the machines clean and appealing.
Vending machine repairers, often called mechanics
or technicians, make sure that the machines operate correctly.
When checking complicated electrical and electronic machines,
such as beverage dispensers, they ascertain whether the machines
mix drinks properly and whether the refrigeration and heating
units work correctly. If the machines are not in good working
order, the mechanics repair them. On the relatively simple
gravity-operated machines, repairers check the keypads, motors,
and merchandise chutes. They also test coin, bill, and change-making
When installing machines, vending machine repairers make
the necessary water and electrical connections and check the
machines for proper operation. They also make sure that the
installation complies with local plumbing and electrical codes.
Because many vending machines dispense food, these workers,
along with vending machine servicers, must comply with State
and local public health and sanitation standards.
Amusement machine servicers and repairers work on
jukeboxes, video games, pinball machines, and slot machines.
They make sure that the various levers, joysticks, and mechanisms
function properly, so that the games remain fair and the jukebox
selections are accurate. They update selections, repair or
replace malfunctioning parts, and rebuild existing equipment.
Those who work in the gaming industry must adhere to strict
guidelines, because Federal and State agencies regulate many
Preventive maintenance—avoiding trouble before it starts—is
a major job of repairers. For example, they periodically clean
refrigeration condensers, lubricate mechanical parts, and
adjust machines so that they perform properly.
If a machine breaks down, vending and amusement machine repairers
inspect it for obvious problems, such as loose electrical
wires, malfunctions of the coin mechanism or bill validator,
and leaks. When servicing electronic machines, repairers test
them with hand-held diagnostic computers that determine the
extent and location of any problem. Repairers may only have
to replace a circuit board or other component to fix the problem.
However, if the problem cannot be readily located, these workers
refer to technical manuals and wiring diagrams and use testing
devices, such as electrical circuit testers, to find defective
parts. Repairers decide whether they must replace a part and
whether they can fix the malfunction onsite or whether they
have to send the machine to the repair shop.
In the repair shop, vending and amusement machine repairers
use power tools, such as grinding wheels, saws, and drills,
as well as voltmeters, ohmmeters, oscilloscopes, and other
testing equipment. They also use ordinary repair tools, such
as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches.
Vending machine servicers and repairers employed by small
companies may both fill and fix machines on a regular basis.
These combination servicers-repairers stock machines, collect
money, fill coin and currency changers, and repair machines
Servicers and repairers also do some paperwork, such as filing
reports, preparing repair cost estimates, ordering parts,
and keeping daily records of merchandise distributed and money
collected. However, new machines with computerized inventory
controls reduce the paperwork that a servicer must complete.
Some vending and amusement machine repairers work primarily
in company repair shops that generally are quiet, well lighted,
and have adequate workspace. Others many spend substantial
time on the road, visiting machines wherever they have been
placed. Repairers generally work a total of 40 hours a week.
However, vending and amusement machines operate around the
clock, so repairers may be on call to work at night and on
weekends and holidays.
Repair work is relatively safe, although servicers and repairers
must take care to avoid hazards such as electrical shocks
and cuts from sharp tools and other metal objects. They also
must follow safe work procedures, especially when moving heavy
vending and amusement machines.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most workers learn their skills on the job. New workers are
trained informally on the job to fill and fix machines by
observing, working with, and receiving instruction from experienced
repairers. Employers normally hire high school graduates,
and give preference to those with high school or vocational
school courses in electricity, refrigeration, and machine
repair. Employers usually require applicants to demonstrate
mechanical ability, either through work experience or by scoring
well on mechanical-aptitude tests.
Because coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and
repairers sometimes handle thousands of dollars in merchandise
and cash, employers try to hire persons who are trustworthy
and have no criminal records. Also, the ability to deal tactfully
with people is important, because the servicers and repairers
play a significant role in relaying customers’ requests and
concerns. A driver’s license and a good driving record are
essential for most vending and amusement machine servicer
and repairer jobs. Some employers require their servicers
to be bonded.
Electronics have become more prevalent in vending and amusement
machines and employers will increasingly prefer applicants
who have training in electronics. Technologically advanced
machines with features such as multilevel pricing, inventory
control, and scrolling messages use electronics and microchip
computers extensively. Some vocational high schools and junior
colleges offer 1- to 2-year training programs in basic electronics.
Beginners start training with simple jobs, such as cleaning
or stocking machines. They then learn to rebuild machines
by removing defective parts and repairing, adjusting, and
testing the machines. Next, they accompany an experienced
repairer on service calls and, finally, make visits on their
own. This learning process takes from 6 months to 2 years,
depending on the individual’s abilities, previous education,
types of machines serviced, and quality of instruction.
The National Automatic Merchandising Association has a self-study
technician training program for vending machine repairers.
Manuals give instruction in subjects such as customer relations,
safety, electronics, and reading schematics. Upon completion
of the program, repairers must pass a written test to become
certified as a technician or journeyman.
To learn about new machines, repairers and servicers sometimes
attend training sessions sponsored by manufacturers and distributors
that may last from a few days to several weeks. Both trainees
and experienced workers sometimes take evening courses in
basic electricity, electronics, microwave ovens, refrigeration,
and other related subjects to stay on top of new techniques
and equipment. Skilled servicers and repairers may be promoted
to supervisory jobs or go into business for themselves.
Coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and repairers
held about 46,000 jobs in 2004. Most repairers work for vending
machine operators that sell food and other items through machines.
Others work for beverage manufacturing companies that have
their own machines. A growing number of servicers and repairers
work for amusement, gambling, and recreation establishments
that own video games, pinball machines, jukeboxes, slot machines,
and similar types of amusement equipment. Although vending
and amusement machine servicers and repairers are employed
throughout the country, most are located in areas with large
populations and, thus, many vending and amusement machines.
Employment of coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers
and repairers is expected to grow more slowly than the average
for all occupations through the year 2014. However, opportunities
should be good for persons with some formal training in electronics,
which can include high school or equivalent classes in basic
mechanics, electronics, circuitry, or diagnostics. Job openings
for coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and repairers
will arise mostly from the need to replace experienced workers
who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Establishments are likely to install additional vending machines
in industrial plants, hospitals, stores, schools and prisons
to meet the public demand for inexpensive snacks and other
food items. The range of products dispensed by the machines
is expected to increase, as vending machines continue to become
increasingly automated and begin to incorporate microwave
ovens, minirefrigerators, and freezers. In addition casinos
and other amusement establishments are becoming an increasing
source of entertainment. State and multi-State lotteries are
increasingly using coin-operated machines to sell scratch-off
tickets in grocery stores and other public places.
Although the number of vending machines in use is expected
to increase, improved technology in newer machines will moderate
employment growth because these machines require less maintenance
than do older ones. The new machines also need restocking
less often, and they contain computers that record sales and
inventory data, reducing the amount of time-consuming paperwork
that otherwise would have to be filled out. The Internet is
beginning to play a large role in the monitoring of vending
machines from remote locations. In addition, some new machines
use wireless data transmitters to signal the vending machine
company when the machine needs restocking or repairing. This
allows servicers and repairers to be dispatched only when
needed, instead of having to check each machine on a regular
Median hourly earnings of coin, vending, and amusement machine
servicers and repairers were $13.47 in May 2004. The middle
50 percent earned between $10.70 and $16.68 an hour. The lowest
10 percent earned less than $8.74an hour, and the highest
10 percent earned more than $20.51 an hour. Median hourly
earnings were $12.66 in vending machine operators, the industry
employing the largest number of coin, vending, and amusement
machine servicers and repairers in May 2004.
Typically, States with some form of legalized gaming have
the highest wages. Most coin, vending, and amusement machine
servicers and repairers work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week,
and receive premium pay for overtime. Some union contracts
stipulate higher pay for night work and for emergency repair
jobs on weekends and holidays than for regular hours.
Some vending machine repairers and servicers are members
of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Other workers who repair equipment with electrical and electronic
components include electrical and electronics installers and
repairers; electronic home-entertainment equipment installers
and repairers; heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration
mechanics and installers; and home appliance repairers.
Sources of Additional Information
Information on job opportunities in this field can be obtained
from local vending machine firms and local offices of your
State employment service.
For general information on vending machine servicing and
National Automatic Merchandising Association, 20 N. Wacker
Dr., Suite 3500, Chicago, IL 60606-3102. Internet: http://www.vending.org/
Vending Times, 1375 Broadway, New York, NY 10018.
Automatic Merchandiser Vending Group, Cygnus Business
Media, P.O. Box 803, 1233 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson,
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics,
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,