The 2019 Copier Technician Salary Survey from Copier Careers reveals some hard truths about the current state of the tech employment pool, including how much money the average tech makes in a year.
(Editor’s note: A significant portion of this article is excerpted from Copier Careers’ 2019 Technician Salary Survey. To read the complete report, click on the link at the end of the article.)
Need to fill a tech position?
That might pose a challenge, according to the 2019 Technician Salary Survey from Copier Careers. The staffing firm attributes part of the problem to the low U.S. unemployment rate, which was 3.6/% in April.
“Our industry has always been very close to a zero-unemployment environment,” said Paul Schwartz, president of Copier Careers. “But it’s tighter now because this industry is growing — and it’s not doing a good job of building a back bench.”
The trouble Schwartz sees is with the U.S. economy as there are more jobs requiring tech skills than people with the skills to fill them. For employers in the copier channel, this should be a wake call as should the survey findings that reveal 76% of survey respondents are looking for a new job.
While Copier Careers is hearing that dealers are making counteroffers to encourage techs to stay, the real solution should be bringing in new people by rethinking and rebooting the industry’s training and hiring practices.
This is the 17th year that Copier Careers, the only nationwide recruiting firm dedicated exclusively to the Copier Channel, has asked professionals from across the industry about their compensation, job satisfaction, and work-life issues. This year 4,785 copier techs from across the industry participated in the survey, an increase of 45 respondents from 2018. Nearly two-thirds of technicians (63%) describe themselves as field service techs, 35% identify as senior lead techs or team leaders and 2% of respondents described their job as house technician.
The key takeaway for management is that businesses inside and outside the copier channel are finding fewer options to fill positions that require workers with tech skills. By contrast, Copier Careers maintains it’s a candidate’s market for skilled IT techs with high demand and a very limited supply.
The average yearly salary for techs is $48,590, approximately $1,200 more on average for copier techs than in 2018. Despite this increase, Copier Careers reports techs are still keeping their employment options open.
Seventy-six percent of those who took the survey said they are “actively” or “somewhat” looking for a new job, an increase of 4%s over 2018. And 92% of respondents say they are looking for work because there are opportunities too good to pass up.
“I think techs are starting to realize how much value they bring to the organization,” said Jessica Crowley, business development manager, and senior recruiter at Copier Careers. “It’s a very small community. If techs start talking about the compensation, leadership or culture in one company with a friend in another company, and they know the other tech has less stress and frustration in getting the job done, they are going to start entertaining opportunities.”
Despite the fact that they are looking, 51% of respondents said they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their total compensation, only 22% rated themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their job overall.
On average, the age of Copier Channel service techs is a bit younger in 2019 at nearly 31 years old, a decrease of almost two years since 2014. In 2019, copier techs report having worked in the Copier Channel for 6.3 years on average.
On average, copier techs work 52 hours per week, a decrease of one hour over 2018. They reported spending an additional eight hours each week on-call after hours.
What is causing the downward trend in the age of technicians and their unwillingness to commit to their employer long term? Crowley says there are several factors. “In the past five years, a lot of people retired or didn’t want to evolve with the industry, so they left.” They were replaced with younger workers, so the average age declined.
Crowley also notes that Millennial and GenX techs have different work-life goals and are less likely to make a lifetime commitment to any job. The greatest factor is the continuing level of change in the industry. “With the acquisitions in the direct manufacturer level and also the independent dealer channel, a lot has changed,” she says. “Compensation may change. Management may change. Territories may change. That causes them to take a look at other positions.”
In 2019, 81% of techs gave their employers a failing grade at attracting talent. On retaining employees, slightly more than half of the respondents (54%) gave employers a passing score.
Schwartz said there aren’t enough people with the right skills in the pipeline, and it’s time to run a system check on how to attract talent to the industry. It starts with facing a cold reality. “Assume there is going to be turnover. That’s your future,” he said.
“In this highly specialized industry, you need to invest in people, because replacing them is not easy,” he said. “And don’t let the perfect get in way of the practical. Be willing to take candidates with some skills and train them on the rest.”
He added that everyone wants pre-certified OEM techs, but as the industry continues to grow, it needs to figure out how to grow talent.
After nearly 30 years of recruiting in the Copier Channel, Schwartz sees an urgent need for dealers and manufacturers to evolve their process of finding, hiring and bringing new hybrid techs aboard. “My message to employers is simple,” Schwartz said. “The personnel shortage is an issue, and it will hurt your business unless you stay proactive.
“Twenty years ago, I used to see ads that said, ‘Just bring your raw skillset and we will train you.’ I think that business owners and service managers are going to have to do something like that again. They are going to have to ramp up training and grow hybrid techs.”
Until then, the market for hybrid techs will be extremely tight. That’s why Copier Careers maintains it’s time to start another copier channel evolution—one focused on bringing more techs into the industry and creating a much deeper talent pool.
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