The Role of a Lift Engineer

Where Innovation Meets Elevation: The Lift Engineer Journey

Brought to you by Forge Lifts, a Kent Lift Service

What does a Lift Engineer do?

In a modern urban landscape where towering buildings are a common sight, lift engineers play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth operation of vertical transportation systems like lifts and escalators. Their job encompasses a multitude of responsibilities, from the initial design and installation of these systems to their regular maintenance and repair. Lift Engineers, LOLER engineers, and Lift Consultants all play a vital role in the lift industry. Let's delve deeper into the specific roles that lift engineers specialise in:

Service Engineers

Service engineers are the custodians of existing lift systems, working tirelessly to ensure their optimal performance. They are responsible for carrying out routine checks, isolating problems, and making repairs where necessary. Their quick response to emergency breakdowns helps in minimising downtime, maintaining the building's functionality.

A day in the life of a lift service engineer is marked by a synergy of well-planned strategies and adaptability to respond to real-time challenges.

Depending on the geographical area of operation, an engineer is tasked with overseeing 60 to 140+ units that range from passenger lifts to conveyors and more. In metropolitan regions, the routes are geographically smaller owing to the traffic congestion which makes it challenging to cover great distances in a timely manner. Conversely, in sparsely populated areas, the geographic range is more extensive, encompassing a similar number of units over a larger territory.

Each day is meticulously planned to accommodate regular maintenance visits and unforeseen breakdowns. Swift response times are crucial, with a standard breakdown response time of 4 hours and a 1-hour window in cases where individuals are trapped in lifts.

As engineers familiarise themselves with their designated routes, they become adept at understanding the unique characteristics of each lift, fostering strong bonds with clients and residents where the units are installed. This aspect of the job not only involves technical oversight but also a significant level of customer liaison, including updating them on lift conditions, and potential issues, and coordinating for repairs or part replacements if a problem cannot be resolved immediately.

The working environment for a lift service engineer can be as varied as the units they service. They find themselves in diverse settings, be it residential complexes, commercial establishments, or specialised facilities like retirement homes. The lift installations are primarily housed in lift shafts, motor rooms, and lobbies, representing a spectrum of conditions – from pristine new installations to older units laden with grease and wear.

An engineer must be prepared to work in varying climates, with motor rooms and lift shafts being extremely cold in winters and hot in summers, which demands a high degree of resilience and adaptability. The job also sometimes entails working in less-than-ideal conditions, especially when servicing older lifts that might not have been maintained properly in the past.

Entering the lift engineering profession can be not only a fulfilling choice but also a financially rewarding one. The salary scale in this field displays a noticeable growth pattern, reflecting the accumulation of experience and expertise over the years.

Starting Off: Newcomers in the lift engineering sector can anticipate a starting salary that generally ranges from £12,000 to £24,000 per annum. This initial phase is a learning curve where individuals grasp the basics of the job while being compensated adequately.

Qualified: As professionals foster their skills and navigate through their career, they can see a substantial increase in their earnings. A lift engineer with a few years of experience under their belt can expect to earn somewhere in the bracket of £30,000 to £50,000 annually. This stage represents a period where engineers have established a sound understanding and competence in their role.

Additional Benefits: Beyond the base salary, it's not uncommon for lift engineers to enjoy additional benefits such as overtime pay, which can significantly augment their annual income. With this in mind an engineer can typically earn up to £80,000. Also, with the scope to work on contractual projects, there's a potential for seasoned professionals to enhance their earnings further.

It's worth noting that these figures are indicative and can vary based on a plethora of factors including the employer, the region, and the specific demands of the role in question. As a prospective lift engineer, one can look forward to a career with solid financial prospects, making it a viable long-term career option.

Becoming adept as a service engineer requires a blend of technical know-how and interpersonal skills. The engineer must be proficient in:

  • Interpreting complex electrical wiring diagrams and digesting intricate maintenance manuals.
  • Leveraging previous experiences to troubleshoot unfamiliar equipment effectively, employing acquired skills for fault-finding.
  • Being comfortable and adept with a varied range of tools, from basic hand tools to advanced diagnostic equipment.
  • Ensuring safety is paramount, requiring the knowledge and application of safe work practices at all times.
  • Communicating effectively with both team members and clients, being able to articulate issues clearly and liaise for necessary actions or repairs.

The ability to combine these technical and soft skills makes for a successful and sought-after lift service engineer, poised for a fulfilling career in the industry.

Installation Engineers

Installation engineers are the backbone of any new building project, laying the groundwork for a safe and efficient lift system. They collaborate closely with architects and builders, integrating the lift system into the building's design. These engineers not only install new lifts but also undertake major overhauls of existing lift equipment, ensuring they comply with the latest safety and efficiency standards.

Being an installation engineer is not a run-of-the-mill job; it's a journey of creating infrastructural masterpieces one project at a time. Your mornings might start with reviewing blueprints, followed by site meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the project's timeline and safety protocols. As someone who spearheads the installation process, you are the craftsman who morphs architectural visions into tangible, functioning realities, one lift at a time.

Your role is multi-faceted - one moment you might be meticulously planning the installation process and the next, you are actively coordinating with various teams on site, ensuring a seamless workflow. You're not just installing lifts; you are laying the foundations of structures that facilitate mobility and accessibility, contributing significantly to the development of buildings that stand tall in modern cities.

Your working environment is ever-changing, often mirroring a bustling construction site where collaboration and coordination are key. You might find yourself in the heart of bustling cities working on prestigious commercial complexes or aiding in the development of residential projects that cater to modern living standards. Your workspace, the lift shaft, is akin to a dynamic canvas, constantly evolving as you progress in your project.

Being adaptable and resilient is crucial as the working conditions might vary greatly, from navigating through confined spaces to working in environments with extreme temperatures. Your workplace is a testament to a living, breathing project, embodying the pulse of progress in the construction industry.

The financial prospects in this role are promising. Apart from a competitive base salary that matches the service engineering sector, installation engineers often have the opportunity to earn bonuses tied to project completion milestones. This structure not only adds to the financial attractiveness of the role but also fosters a culture of efficiency and excellence, rewarding those who excel in their roles and contribute to the timely completion of projects.

To excel in this role, a rich repertoire of skills is essential. Here's a deeper dive into the expertise required:

  • Technical Proficiency: A strong grasp of modern lift technology and regulations is vital. Being adept at reading and interpreting complex blueprints and electrical schematics is a part of the job.

  • Physical Fitness: Given the manual nature of the job, being physically fit to handle the rigors of the role is essential. This includes having the stamina to work for extended periods and the strength to operate heavy machinery.

  • Problem-Solving Skills: As someone at the helm of installations, you are the go-to person for solving unexpected issues that might arise during the project. Your ability to think on your feet and find innovative solutions is a valued skill.

  • Communication and Coordination: Being able to communicate effectively with various teams and clients, ensuring seamless coordination and fostering a collaborative working environment is key.

A career as an installation engineer is both rewarding and challenging, offering opportunities for continual learning and growth in a sector that is at the heart of urban development. With the right blend of technical knowledge and hands-on skills, you can carve out a successful career path in this dynamic industry.

Becoming a lift engineer

Embarking on a career as a lift engineer means stepping into a role that demands both technical prowess and a knack for problem-solving. This profession is not only about the machines but also about ensuring safety and seamless functionality in various establishments, from commercial buildings to residential complexes. Here, we will guide you through the essential qualifications and skills required to become a proficient lift engineer.

Getting Started


Embarking on a career as a lift engineer often starts with apprenticeships offered by many lift companies across England. These apprenticeships, typically lasting 3 to 4 years, serve as a golden opportunity to learn the trade in-depth. For those with a natural knack for the job, there is a possibility to complete the apprenticeship in a shorter time span.

During the apprenticeship, the major portion of your learning occurs on the job, where you will work closely with a seasoned lift engineer or technician who will mentor you and show you the ropes. This hands-on experience is complemented by a substantial amount of coursework to be completed at home. The coursework covers a broad spectrum of subjects, including the various tasks involved in the job, safety protocols, the effective use of tools, and understanding relevant regulations.

In some instances, apprentices might be required to attend a college that provides parallel instruction to supplement their on-the-job training. This, however, is not a universal requirement and is only facilitated by certain companies. These academic stints aim to offer a more structured approach to learning, encompassing theory and practical applications in lift engineering.

Trainee Positions

Apart from apprenticeships, many companies offer positions for trainees, who are colloquially referred to as "mates" within the industry. Similar to apprenticeships, trainee positions allow individuals to learn on the job and complete necessary coursework. However, trainee programs tend to be less structured, placing a higher onus on individuals to manage and complete their coursework independently.


At the culmination of the apprenticeship or trainee program, candidates are bestowed with an NVQ level 3 qualification in Lift Engineering, a testimonial of their skill and proficiency in the field. This qualification not only provides you with the necessary knowledge of lift systems but also certifies your ability to undertake maintenance tasks safely and effectively.

Apart from this foundational qualification, pursuing further studies can open up avenues for specialisation in the field. Some popular courses that can aid in building a robust skill set include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Maintenance Engineering Technology
  • Level 3 Diploma in Building Services Engineering
  • Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Lift Engineering

Skillset Gained

As you venture into a career as a lift engineer, it's not just about the qualifications you gain, but also the repertoire of skills that you develop during the learning phase. These skills are pivotal in ensuring safety, efficiency, and efficacy in your work. Here, we explore the vital skills that you will hone as you grow in your role:


Technical Proficiency

  • Mastery of Tools: A lift engineer must be adept at using a variety of tools confidently and safely. As you progress through your training, you'll become familiar with the array of tools necessary for the job, learning the nuances of their operation and maintenance. This skill is fundamental in executing tasks efficiently and safely.
  • Interpreting Electrical Wiring Diagrams: A crucial skill in this field is the ability to read and comprehend electrical wiring diagrams. These diagrams are the blueprint of the electrical connections within the lift system. As an engineer, you will learn to analyse and understand these diagrams to troubleshoot issues or install new systems effectively.
  • Understanding Schematics: Schematics, or schematic diagrams, provide a representation of the elements of a system using abstract, graphic symbols rather than realistic pictures. Developing the skill to interpret these diagrams will enable you to understand the intricate workings of lift systems, fostering a deeper comprehension and facilitating more effective work on lift installations and repairs.
  • Technical Manual Comprehension: As part of your role, you'll need to navigate through extensive technical manuals. Your ability to read and understand these manuals is vital in ensuring that you can follow the specified guidelines and standards, ensuring safety and efficiency in all tasks undertaken.

Problem-Solving Skills

  • Overcoming Engineering Challenges: During your training, you will cultivate the ability to tackle engineering problems using the transferable skills acquired. This includes applying past experiences to find innovative solutions to new challenges, and fostering a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation.

Communication and Teamwork

  • Effective Communication in Hazardous Situations: As a lift engineer, you will often find yourself working in potentially hazardous environments. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively in these situations is paramount. You will learn to work harmoniously in a team, ensuring that information is relayed accurately to prevent accidents and maintain safety standards.

What does a Forge Lifts' Lift Engineer do?

Resources and Professional Bodies

  • LEIA - Lift and Escalator Industry Association.

    LEIA, or the Lift and Escalator Industry Association, stands as a formidable pillar in the lift and escalator sector. Established from the merger of two longstanding associations in 1997, it traces its roots back to 1932, reflecting a rich tradition of expertise and guidance in the industry. Presently, it boasts a strong network of 163 UK-based companies, constituting a massive 85% of the entire industry.

  • National Careers Service

    The "National Careers Service" is an invaluable resource spearheaded by the UK government, designed to assist individuals in navigating the diverse landscape of career opportunities available in the UK, including the pathway to becoming a proficient lift engineer.

  • Lift Industry News

    Lift Industry News operates as a dedicated, interconnected platform offering the latest updates and insights in the field. Collaborating closely with prominent organizations including LEIA, the CIBSE Lifts Group, the University of Northampton, SAFed, and the Lift Industry Charity, it serves as a nucleus of information and innovation in the industry.

Lift Engineer Testimonials


Service Engineer

"I have been a lift engineer for over 7 years. Since everyday is different I found I’m always learning new skills which is something I love about the industry.

The industry is evolving everyday with new technology and health and safety regulations which means you never stop learning.

For me the most rewarding part of the job is fixing a lift for someone who really relies on it."


Service Engineer

"I've been a lift engineer for about a decade now. The job never gets boring, each day is different from the last, working in different locations, on different equipment, and experiencing different problems to solve.

It can be hard work at times, and it can be stressful if things get on top of you, but if you're organised and get on top of your route, it can be extremely satisfying and has a great feeling of accomplishment. 

I'd really recommend this career path to anyone who likes working with their hands, solving complicated problems, and who enjoys a sense of independence."


Service Engineer

"Having been a lift engineer for nearly a decade, I am still finding new things to learn and enjoy as technology advances. Being able to fix and repair a lift that someone is dependent upon and able to give them freedom and mobility is a very rewarding aspect of the job. No day is ever the same, whether working on different equipment, working alongside new people and experiencing different locations, some of which can provide very beautiful views of central London. The lift industry can be challenging, but is equally rewarding."


Repair Engineer

"I've been a lift engineer for almost two decades now. I learn something new about the trade every single day, the learning never stops. The technology and regulations are always evolving. It's a really satisfying job, but it is also hard work. It can be stressful at times, but if you have a good team behind you, you can get anything done."


Retired Service Engineer

"I've really missed being a lift engineer, you know. The occasional twinge here and there doesn't stop folks from seeking my advice now and again. I've been toying with the idea of getting back into the groove, even if it's just part-time – but we'll see. It's no easy gig, but there's a certain satisfaction that makes it all worthwhile in the end"


Trainee Service Engineer

"I'm nearing the end of my first year in this field. I genuinely appreciate the camaraderie in our community. We often share knowledge and insights, helping each other solve complex issues. It's fulfilling to be part of a network that values collaboration and continuous learning."

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