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Lift Mechanic

by Staff Reporter
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Career Overview

Lift Mechanics work as part of the crew that install and repair elevators, escalators and similar equipment. This career involves getting your hands very greasy and requires a mechanical-brain. As a Lift Mechanic you should expect a hands-on, get-your-hands-dirty kind of career, constantly interacting with clients and working long hours. This career requires having a good grasp of safety requirements and a passion for mechanics and electronics.

Required School Subjects

  • If you would like to pursue a career as a Lift Mechanic then you will need the following High School subjects in order to study in a relevant pathway:
    • English
    • Mathematics Pure
    • Mathematics Literacy
  • The minimum requirement is finishing Grade 9, but some employers want a higher qualification. 


    •   Physics
    •   Technology

Institution and APS

For most employers, you will have to gain further higher education in one of the following relevant pathways. There are a number of higher education institutions in South Africa that offer further education in a relevant field of study, but we recommend the following

  • Apprenticeship:

An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice (roughly for 18 months to 4 years). At the end of the contract, the apprentice usually writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

  1. Learnership: 

A learnership is a structured learning programme (roughly for a year to 3 years). A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

TVET colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

Required Qualification/s

One of the previously-stated pathways is required to gain experience in the mechanical field, equipping you with the necessary skills to construct, install and maintain lifts. Any opportunities to gain knowledge about the industry, networking and hands-on experience should be taken to better your chances of being hired (for example, job shadowing a lift technician in your holidays/ spare time). All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. You must receive training in safety and first aid, fire-fighting and preventative security measures. Injuries are not fun to deal with! 

Required Skills

The following skills are needed in order to be a Lift Mechanic:

  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job and getting your hands dirty
  • Willing to work at heights and in confined spaces
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to communicate and direct a team
  • Normal colour vision and physically strong / good health
  • Passion for mechanical and electrical processes and equipment
  • Stamina to work irregular hours, when called in by a customer

Where you can work

Lift Mechanics are needed in many different areas/ types of buildings. Lift mechanics work indoors in buildings under construction and in existing buildings completed. The working conditions are rather unfavourable. Dust, oil and grease are definitely part of the job. Majority of Lift Mechanics work free-lance for paying clients, and manage a small team, that helps them to install and maintain lifts or elevators. Where-ever you see a lift, you can potentially find a job. Work is commonly found in apartment buildings, shopping malls, large-company buildings, fancy-shmancy houses or hospitals.  

Working Hours

Lift Mechanics often have a very irregular schedule, as they are mostly maintaining or fixing lifts that don’t breakdown on schedule. You may find yourself working many late nights or crazy hours, as you are called in when an issue arises. Usually working hours are not that long, unless you are constructing and installing many, complicated lift systems. Lift Mechanics must be able to be called when needed, within reason. Working hours are on average 40 hours a week.

Expected Salary

Considering you can embark on this career path with only a Grade 9 qualification, the pay is pretty decent. As a Lift Mechanic you can expect to earn anywhere around the average yearly salary of R40 000-R150 000 in South Africa, depending on the clients that you work for.

What to expect

When getting started, arrange to chat to a lift mechanic to really get a sense of the job and what to expect. As a Lift Mechanic you should expect a hands-on, get-your-hands-dirty kind of career, constantly interacting with clients and working long hours. You will like this career if you are physically strong, love hands-on labour and are a perfectionist when it comes to safety and getting the job done well. This requires travel to sites where the lifts are being installed or maintained, so enjoying travel is a must. If you have a passion for mechanics, electronics and problem-solving, and don’t mind getting a little grease on your shirt, this career is a great option for you! 

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