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Occupational Profile

Musical Instrument Repair Technician

Musical instrument repair technicians maintain and repair musical instruments such as pianos, pipe organs, band instruments, violins and other stringed instruments.

  • Avg. Salary $42,713.00
  • Avg. Wage $21.56
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 3,700
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Band Instrument Repair Technician, Instrument Repair Technician, Piano Technician, Pipe Organ Repairer, Violin Repairer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Musical Instrument Repair Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Other Repairers and Servicers
NOC code: 7445
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating hand, power and specially designed tools to service products and equipment; may calibrate products using hand tools

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to test and adjust repaired products to ensure that they work properly; and in performing routine maintenance

innovative

Interest in inspecting products to determine repairs required

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Piano technicians make up the majority of musical instrument repair technicians. In general, they:

  • diagnose problems with faulty instruments (which may involve partially dismantling them for inspection)
  • make mechanical and structural repairs
  • adjust the touch and recondition the action
  • rebuild pianos including repairing cracks in the sound board and restringing
  • tune pianos by adjusting the strings.

A piano problem may have its source in any of the many wooden, steel, iron, ivory or felt parts. Some pianos have humidity systems to help them stay in tune and protect them from extreme humidity conditions.

Pipe organ repairers work on pipe organs in churches and concert halls. Pipe organs create sound by forcing air through flue pipes or reed pipes ranging in size from 17 centimetres to ten meters in length. In general, pipe-organ repairers:

  • tune pipes
  • perform regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning the pipes
  • locate and correct problems in organ components such as slides, valves, keys and air channels or the electric wind generating equipment.

Pipe organ repairers also may install new pipe organs. The installation process may take months and require the installer to work in cramped locations.

Although pianos, pipe organs, electronic organs and synthesizers all have keyboards and look somewhat alike, their mechanisms are quite different. Therefore, few repairers are qualified to work on more than one type of instrument. Electronic instruments generally are repaired by technicians who are familiar with electronic components.

Brass instrument repair technicians repair brass instruments. In general, they:

  • solder broken joints and parts
  • remove dents in brass tubes and parts
  • buff and relacquer dull and tarnished brass
  • align valves, rotors and slides
  • replace missing parts.

Wind instrument repair technicians repair woodwind instruments. In general, they:

  • replace pads, corks, felts and springs
  • align pads and keys
  • restore mechanical action to parts
  • repair cracks in wood instruments
  • remove dents in sax and flute bodies and keys
  • solder posts and parts.

Senior technicians may make custom repairs and modifications, and restore instruments to better than new condition.

Band instrument repair technicians repair brass, woodwind, double reed and some percussion instruments.

Violin repair technicians build and restore stringed instruments such as violins, violas, cellos and double basses. In general, they:

  • make minor repairs such as repairing or replacing worn parts or strings
  • restore or reconstruct cracked or broken instruments.

Restoration often is more challenging than building a new instrument. The challenge is to ensure that, after restoration, no evidence of repair remains.

Guitar repair technicians adjust and repair acoustic and electric guitars and basses, and may work on mandolins, banjos, ukeleles and other fretted stringed instruments as well. In general, they: 

  • tune and intonate instruments to standard or alternative tuning
  • diagnose problems with faulty instruments
  • install electronic pickups or pickup systems in acoustic and electric instruments
  • repair, upgrade or hot rod existing pickups
  • repair or replace worn or damaged frets
  • restore or reconstruct cracked or broken instruments
  • replace missing parts or, if necessary, construct and fit replacement parts
  • refinish instruments.

Depending on the size of the shop or repair centre, music instrument repairers may have additional responsibilities such as customer service or general cleaning duties.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Musical instrument repair technicians work in shops, factories, music stores, homes and public buildings such as schools, churches and concert halls. Those who work in factories work a standard 40 hour work week; those who are self-employed set their own hours and may work evenings and weekends for the convenience of their customers. Band instrument repair technicians often take time off during the winter and work long hours during the summer months to repair school instruments before September.

Lifting up to 10 kilograms is routinely required. Some lifting up to 25 kilograms may be required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Musical instrument repair technicians need the following characteristics:

  • good manual dexterity and physical stamina
  • keen hearing
  • mechanical ability
  • the ability to make delicate adjustments
  • patience and perseverance.

Those working in shops must be able to get along well with others because they often work in close quarters for long periods of time.

Musical instrument repair technicians should enjoy using tools and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, taking a methodical approach to their work, and finding unique solutions to problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Depending on the type of instrument, most musical instrument repair technicians learn their craft by working with experienced repairers for several years or by taking related training programs. Employers generally prefer to hire applicants who have Grade 12 or equivalent education. Courses in mathematics, physics, industrial arts and music are a definite asset. Bookkeeping courses are helpful for those who want to establish their own businesses.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Aspiring musical instrument repair technicians may find it difficult to obtain a training position. Manufacturers and dealers with service departments have limited numbers of training positions, and private repair technicians often are too busy to train someone new or are not busy enough to warrant hiring someone. Most employers prefer to hire those who have previous related experience or formal training in the field.

Most piano technicians work primarily for private owners. Advancement may take the form of specializing in concert work or in rebuilding pianos.

The musical instrument tuning and repair business is very competitive. Starting a new repair business may require a sizable investment in specialized tools and supplies, and mistakes can be very costly. It is strongly recommended that inexperienced instrument repair technicians work in larger full service shops before attempting to set up their own businesses. Maintaining other sources of income until businesses are well established also is recommended.

Experienced repair technicians employed in factories, large music stores or repair shops may advance to supervisory positions.

Musical instrument repair technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7445: Other repairers and servicers. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,700 Albertans are employed in the Other repairers and servicers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 59 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As musical instrument repair technicians form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for musical instrument repair technicians.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Inexperienced trainees may be paid minimum wage (or work as a volunteer in return for training) and their wages often remain low until they are qualified to work independently. (As of October 1, 2016, the minimum wage in Alberta is $12.20 per hour for most jobs. For more information, see Alberta Employment Standards.)

The earnings of independent repair technicians gradually increase as their businesses grow and level off when they have as much work as they can handle. Their fees vary greatly depending on their area of expertise, reputation and business skill.

Other repairers and servicers
NOC code: 7445

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $10.75 $29.03 $17.41 $14.54
Overall $15.88 $38.46 $21.56 $17.41
Top $18.46 $59.77 $25.62 $20.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Wholesale Trade
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

75%
75%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

12%
12%

2015 Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Music
  • Science
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Canadian Association of Piano Technicians website: www.pianocanada.ca

National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians website: www.napbirt.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated May 01, 2009. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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