Jobs Outlook: Precision Instrument & Equipment Repairers

Good opportunities are expected for most types of precision instrument and equipment repairer jobs. Overall employment growth is projected to be about as fast as the average for all occupations over the 200414 period; however, projected growth varies by detailed occupation.

Job growth among medical equipment repairers should be about as fast as the average for all occupations over the projection period. The rapidly expanding healthcare industry and elderly population should spark demand for increasingly sophisticated medical equipment and, in turn, create good employment opportunities in this occupation.

By contrast, employment of musical instrument repairers is expected to increase more slowly than the average. Replacement needs are expected to provide the most job opportunities as many repairers and tuners retire. School budget cuts to music programs—specifically, stringed-instrument programs—should hurt the outlook for musical repairers. With fewer new musicians, there will be a slump in instrument rentals, purchases, and repairs. Because training in the repair of musical instruments is difficult to obtain—there are only a few schools that offer training programs, and few experienced workers are willing to take on apprentices—opportunities should be good for those who receive training. Schools report that their graduates easily find employment.

Employment of camera and photographic equipment repairers is expected to decline. The popularity of inexpensive cameras adversely affects employment in this occupation, as most point-and-shoot cameras are cheaper to replace than repair. When a camera breaks, not only is replacing the camera often not much more expensive than repairing it, but the new model is also far more advanced than the old one. However, consumers are spending more on high-end digital cameras than they did on conventional cameras in the past, which should make repairing the cameras more economical.

Employment of watch repairers is expected to increase more slowly than the average. Over the past few decades, changes in technology, including the invention of digital and quartz watches that need few repairs, caused a significant decline in the demand for watch repairers. In recent years, this trend was somewhat reversed, as the growing popularity of expensive mechanical watches increased the need for these repairers. Nonetheless, few new repairers entered the field. Thus, the small number of entrants, coupled with the fact that a large proportion of watch and clock repairers are approaching retirement age, should result in very good job opportunities in this field.

The projected slower-than-average employment growth of other precision instrument and equipment repairers reflects the expected lack of employment growth in manufacturing and other industries in which they are employed. Nevertheless, good employment opportunities are expected for these workers due to the relatively small number of people entering the occupation and the need to replace repairers who retire.