Workers with training in electronics are employed in a variety of industries from computing and construction to energy and automotive. Electronic vocational schools offer a number of pathways to specializations within these broad fields. Certifications, while generally voluntary, help you to exhibit mastery of a specific skill set and make you more attractive to potential employers.
Electronics vocational schools can train you for a number of different jobs across many industries -- not just a residential electrical repairs. Your training may lead to a job installing computer systems in cars, inspecting electrical relay systems at a hydroelectric plant, or supervising as an apprentice repairs the wiring in a high-rise office building. Electronics specialties include:
- Automotive (transportation) installation and repair
- Electronics engineering
- Powerhouse, substation and relay repair
- Residential electrical installation and maintenance
Electronics certification and degrees
As with HVAC/R, electronics training ranges from formal apprenticeships to associate's degrees through electronics vocational or trade schools. Most electricians still enter the career as apprentices. A high school diploma or GED are required, as is a course in algebra. Your apprenticeship will cover safety regulations, code compliance and electrical theory. You may learn how to read blueprints, solder wires or install fire alarm systems. Most states require electricians to be licensed and certified.
In contrast, most electronics engineering technicians and electrical installers and repairers begin their careers at an electronics vocational school. Some may simply take relevant courses while others complete an associate degree program. Coursework might include analog and digital circuitry, programming in C++, and, of course, electric theory and blueprint reading. Over 50 professional certifications exist. Certification is voluntary, but demonstrates mastery and makes you a more attractive job candidate.
Salary and career outlook for Electronics
In the field of electronics, the BLS reported the following national annual median wages in May of 2013:
- $50,510, electricians
- $52,830, automotive electrical and electronics installers and repairers
- $58,540, electrical and electronics engineering technicians
The three states with the highest number of jobs and location quotient for electricians are Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska. Alaska is also the top-paying state for electricians, followed by New York and Illinois. For electrical installers and repairers, the states with the highest job numbers are Nebraska, Virginia and Kansas.
In 2013, Forbes.com reported on the high demand for workers in the skilled trades, including electricians. The skilled-trades workforce is aging and there are fewer trained workers available to fill those positions.
Electricians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/electricians.htm
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/electrical-and-electronics-installers-and-repairers.htm
The Indoor Environment & Energy Efficiency Association, http://www.acca.org/education/epa/