Appliance repair students will tell you that the lonely repairman in the
Maytag ads is obviously a fictional character. In actual fact, students can
look forward to busy, rewarding careers fixing everything from dishwashers
to air conditioners.
Programs range from nine months to three years. It depends on whether
it's a college pre-employment program or an apprenticeship, which combines
college and on-the-job training. Most programs are accredited, but
you should check with the individual school to see if it's recognized by the
professional organization in your region.
Students learn to diagnose problems with different systems.
"They will have the understanding of how the various devices work, how
each of the internal components work individually and with each other, and
an understanding of how to interpret readings from both electrical and
mechanical-type meters to determine which component is responsible for
the appliance not working," says John Smith. He is an appliance repair instructor
at a technical college.
Prospective students must exhibit mechanical aptitude, says Smith.
"They need to have the ability to work with their hands, to recognize which
way to turn a screw. And they need an understanding of tools and tool applications."
Concentrate on math, chemistry and physics classes in high school.
In particular, students need to be familiar with Ohm's Law.
"The understanding of electricity and the understanding of refrigeration
are applied physics," Smith explains. "Chemistry comes in handy when you're
talking about the action of detergents and the relationships in refrigerants,
particularly organic chemistry."
You'll also need reading skills and computer knowledge. Lonnie McRay
is an instructor with Ouachita Vo-Tech Skills Center in Oklahoma. He says
reading comprehension is often a problem.
"When you get into most of the machinery which we work with, you use technical
manuals," he explains. "If you can't understand what it's telling you, you're
Equipment and materials are often covered in the cost of tuition (but
you'll still have to buy books). In some programs, students can bring
their own equipment, but only after they have passed certain sections of the
"If we're using a particular type of meter, we'll want them to know that
meter because it's the one we'll be using as an example in most of the testing,"
explains Smith. "They do it our way first, and they can start to discover
their own later."
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