Careers for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Questions to Ask When Considering A Career in Piano Technology
What factors contribute to good career opportunities?
Excellent career opportunities are possible when there is a high demand for services or products and a short supply of people providing the services.
Does the piano technology industry offer an excellent career?
Yes! There are over 17 million pianos in the United States in need of regular service. There are approximately 4,100 Piano Technician Guild (PTG) members providing tuning and repair services. The closest job classification used by the U.S. Department of Labor uses for piano technicians is "musical instrument repairers and tuners." This includes repairers of percussion, stringed, and reed instruments and places the number as 6,000 workers. The U.S. Departments of Labor, Occupational Information Network, indicates an expectation of 1,800 job openings during the decade of 2008-2018. "Job prospects should be excellent. As the baby boomer generation retires and many skilled workers leave the workplace, new workers will be needed to replace them."
Is piano technology a good career for the blind and visually impaired?
Yes! Of the 4,100 PTG members less than 10% are blind or visually impaired. This career is not restricted or even predominantly held by blind or visually impaired people. It is an excellent profession for either blind or sighted people.
Why do some people refer to piano tuning as a stereotypical “blind trade”?
An excellent article on the “blind trades,” written by John Bailey, “Don’t Shoot the Piano Tuner: Should we Avoid the Blind Trades?” appeared in the January, 2004 issue of the NFB Braille Monitor. Mr. Bailey tells of his respect for self-employed entrepreneurs who happened to be blind.
What skills or attributes are needed for a career in piano technology?
Normal hearing, average finger dexterity and good physical fitness Ability to work independently with a minimum of direction Time management skills to keep appointments and meet deadlines Ability to solve expected and unexpected problems Good organizational skills and ability to effectively communicate Self-confidence and a willingness to learn
What benefits do piano technicians report from their profession?
Specific salaries are determined by many factors including training, years and type of experience, economic conditions, location, etc. Average annual incomes ranging from $35,000 - $75,000 or more (www.ptg.org). The website www.simplyhired.com calculates salaries using the average salary for all jobs with the term "musical instrument repairer" anywhere in the job listings, indexed by Simply Hiredís job search engine. Their data resulted in an annual salary average of $46,000.
Is the training effective for blind and visually impaired people?
Yes! Emil Fries developed effective methods for training blind people to tune and repair pianos. In addition, the school teaches the management and communication skills needed to operate a piano service business. Over 250 graduates from 36 states and 15 countries have successfully completed the training and gone on to earn a good living in the piano technology field.
How long is the training?
The training program, accredited since 1993 by the ACCSC, consists of 2,800 clock hours over a 2 year period. The schedule is for two ten-month terms with a two-month summer break between terms. Upon graduation, a certificate is awarded.
What are the rates for graduation and placement?
Over 80% of enrolled students complete the program within the two year schedule. Approximately 69.23% of our graduates find work in the piano service industry (based on 2007-2011 statistics). Many graduates start their own business.
Is there a placement office to assist in finding jobs for graduates?
There is no placement office, but faculty and staff use their extensive network of piano industry contacts to help students find work upon graduation.
Is training and support available after graduation?
Yes! The alumni of the school have formed an association that meets online every week to discuss technical and business issues and to help each other stay current with new tools, technology and business strategy. Each summer, an alumni clinic is held at the school to provide a refresher and update on topics of interest to the group.