There are roughly 50,000 home appliance repairers working in the United States. Job growth projections indicate there will be no change over the next decade. Repairers with formal training and customer service experience will find employment as current workers retire or leave for other work.
Home appliance repair technicians install, maintain, and fix home appliances including stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers, and single-room air-conditioners. For the most part, home appliance repairers do their work in customers’ homes. Some technicians also repair smaller kitchen appliances and vacuums brought to the repair shop. Installing large appliances involves making connection to an electrical, gas, or power line. Installers will return to make warranty repairs. Malfunctioning units are inspected for fluid leaks, parts that have become loose, odd sounds, and vibrations to help the technician make a diagnosis. Diagnosis is determined by following manufacturer’s diagnostic information in combination with ammeters, voltmeters, wattmeters, and other diagnostic tools. Home appliance repair technicians will repair a defective part or replace it if the cost to repair is too high. Hand tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, soldering guns, and specialized tools for specific appliances, are used daily. Technicians must be familiar with electronics; appliances may need circuit boards or other electronic elements replaced. Technicians working with refrigerant are required by law to conserve, recover, and recycle chlorofluorocarbon and hydro-chlorofluorocarbon, as they are both toxic to the environment. Technicians are also responsible for documenting all steps of a repair, recording the time it took, writing up bills, and taking payment.
Qualified home appliance repair technicians work independently. They travel from home to home and check in with a supervisor if there is an issue. Most technicians work forty hours per week on a regular schedule. Some work evenings or weekends. Technicians may be on call for emergencies.
Technicians will have to assume uncomfortable positions for extended periods to make some repairs; this can result in muscular or skeletal pain. Other hazards include electrical shock, inhaling damaging fumes, refrigerants touching exposed skin, or muscle strain or sprain due to heavy loads. However, these dangers can be avoided by following appropriate safety procedures.
Many technicians begin work immediately after high school with little formal training. Others complete a vocational school or community college program in electronics or appliance repair. Employers favor technicians with formal training or work experience. Training programs are offered by many manufacturers. Repairers must be authorized by a manufacturer to do warranty repairs; authorization requires participating in these programs. Repair shops give trainees experience mastering one type of appliance repair at a time before moving to another type. Over the course of months or years, they gain enough experience to be considered fully qualified.
All technicians working with refrigerant are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pass a written test on proper handling as part of their certification. Trade schools, unions, and employer associations give the EPA-approved test. Most employers require that technicians have a good driving record. Many employers do a drug test and background check since technicians spend most of their work times in other people’s homes. A number of certification examinations are given by various organizations. While not always required, certification does help job applicants by assuring an employer the applicant is qualified. The National Appliance Service Technician Certification (NASTeC), given by the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET), tests competence in the diagnosis, repair, and maintenance of major home appliances. The Professional Service Association (PSA) offers a course based on industry competencies. Passing the PSA exam is a step toward the Master Certified Appliance Professional (MCAP) designation.
Technicians working in bigger repair shops may be promoted to a supervisory or managerial position, including regional service manager. Others leave a shop to become a manager for a manufacturer. Technicians with business management experience may start their own business.
The median hourly pay, including commissions, for home appliance repair technicians is around $17 per hour. Those at the low end of the pay scale earn around $10 per hour, while those at the high end earn about $26 per hour.
Technicians may have an arrangement with employers whereby a commission is added to the base salary. In these cases, the commission is based upon the number of repairs or installations the technician completed in a set time period. Additionally, larger shops, manufacturers, and other dealers generally offer a basic benefits package. In some cases, employers provide vehicles. In other cases, the technician must supply the vehicle but is reimbursed for mileage.