Appliance Service Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Appliance technicians usually must be high school graduates with some knowledge of electricity (especially wiring diagrams) and, if possible, electronics. If you are interested in this field, you should take as many shop classes as possible to gain a familiarity with machines and tools. Electrical shop is particularly helpful because of the increasing use of electronic components in appliances. Mathematics and physics are good choices to build a knowledge of mechanical principles. Computer science classes will also be useful.

Postsecondary Training

Prospective technicians are sometimes hired as helpers and acquire most of their skills through on-the-job experience. Some employers assign such helpers to accompany experienced technicians when they are sent to do repairs in customers' homes and businesses. The trainees observe and assist in diagnosing and correcting problems with appliances. Other employers assign helpers to work in the company's service center where they learn how to rebuild used appliances and make simple repairs. At the end of six to 12 months, they usually know enough to make most repairs on their own, and they may be sent on unsupervised service calls.

An additional one to two years of experience is often required for trainees to become fully qualified. Trainees may attend service schools sponsored by appliance manufacturers and also study service manuals to familiarize themselves with appliances, particularly new models. Reading manuals and attending courses is a continuing part of any technician's job.

Many technicians train at public or private technical and vocational schools that provide formal classroom training and laboratory experience in the service and repair of appliances. The length of these programs varies, although most last between one and two years. Correspondence and online courses that teach basic appliance repair are also available. Although formal training in the skills needed for appliance repair can be a great advantage for job applicants, newly graduated technicians should expect additional on-the-job training to acquaint them with the particular work done in their new employer's service center.

Other Education or Training

The North American Retail Dealers Association, Professional Service Association, and the United Servicers Association offer webinars, seminars, and other continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians provides the National Appliance Service Technician Certification Program (NASTeC), which offers certification on four levels: refrigeration and air conditioning, cooking, laundry and dishwashing, and universal technician (all three specialties plus basic skills). Passing the basic skills exam and at least one specialty is needed for NASTeC certification, and passing all four exams is needed to become a NASTeC Universal Technician.

The Professional Service Association (PSA) also offers certification to appliance repairers. PSA offers the following certifications to technicians who pass an examination: certified graduate technician, certified technician, certified master technician, certified consumer specialist, and certified service manager.

In some states, appliance technicians may need to be licensed or registered. Licenses are granted to applicants who meet certain standards of education, training, and experience and who pass an examination. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires certification for all technicians who work with appliances containing refrigerants known as chlorofluorocarbons. Since these refrigerants can be harmful to the environment, technicians must be educated and tested on their handling in order to achieve certification to work with them.

The North American Retail Dealers Association offers a certification program for those who recover refrigerant from appliances categorized as “Type I” by the EPA. These include refrigerators and freezers designed for home use, room air conditioners including window models, packaged terminal air conditioners, packaged terminal heat pumps, dehumidifiers, under-the-counter icemakers, vending machines, and drinking water coolers. Contact the association for more information on certification requirements.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is needed for most appliance service jobs, but those with prior work experience will increase their chances of landing a job, getting promoted, and possibly earning higher pay.  Technicians receive most of their training on the job, but an additional one to two years of experience is often required for trainees to become fully qualified.

Technicians must possess not only the skills and mechanical aptitude necessary to repair appliances but also skills in customer relations. They must be able to deal courteously with all types of people and be able to convince their customers that the products they repair will continue to give satisfactory service for some time to come. Technicians must work effectively with little supervision, since they often spend their days alone, going from job to job. It is necessary that they be accurate and careful in their repair work since their customers rely on them to correct problems properly. Technicians are usually required to have a driver's license, since the job requires a good deal of travel.