From our smartphones to our cars, electronic parts make the things we use on a daily basis run correctly. That means, if you're looking for a new career, electronics programs hold the key to diverse job opportunities. Skilled workers are needed to do the following tasks and more:
- Build electronic systems and prototypes.
- Calibrate electronic instruments.
- Test electronic parts and makes adjustments or repairs as needed.
- Inspect and maintain electronic systems.
- Keep records of repairs, updates and other maintenance.
What are electronics specializations?
An electronic technician school can prepare you for a number of different jobs across many industries. 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:
- Electronic automotive installation and repair: Gain skills putting in mobile electronics and aftermarket products.
- Electronics engineering: Develop, test and produce items like control systems, circuit boards and even mobile phones.
- Instrumentation and solar electronics engineering: Help develop, test and calibrate instruments and equipment for the solar power field.
- Medical electronics engineering: Use electronic skills to maintain and care for medical imaging equipment and technology.
- Residential electrical installation and maintenance: Use circuitry and wiring skills to help install systems or make repairs under the guidance of a more skilled journeyman.
How to Become an Electronics Technician
There are a variety of occupations within the field of electronics, and each has its own education requirements. Some jobs, such as that of electronic installers and repairers, don't require an electronics degree. Other engineering positions may call for a two-year associate degree. Plan on the following steps:
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Earn an associate degree or complete an electronics engineering certificate, industrial maintenance certificate, or related program. These may not be officially required for employment, but could offer an advantage over competition.
Keep in mind that when in school, you'll likely need some knowledge of the following subjects for electronics jobs:
- Electrical circuitry
- Computer programming
- Computer electronics
- Logical processors
Degree programs for electronics technicians
Depending on the type of work you'd like to do, you may need an electronics degree or certificate. Here's the difference.
- Certificate: An electronics engineering certificate, industrial maintenance certificate or similar program will provide a foundation of skills that can be used in positions such as that of electrical and electronic installers or repairers. Electronics certificates can often be completed in one year or less, and credits may be transferable toward an associate degree.
- Associate Degree: A two-year associate degree is the standard education for electrical and electronics engineering technicians as well as electro-mechanical technicians. These programs may be offered in concentrations such as electronics technology, computer electronics and biomedical electronics.
Electronic technician schools
You'll find electronics programs at community colleges, technical schools and electronics trade schools. Programs may be accredited by ABET, also known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc., as well as by regional accrediting organizations and other bodies.
There are some online electronics schools, and these may use video tutorials and seminars to teach course material. Some schools may combine online learning with on-campus lab work to provide students with hands-on experience. Before enrolling in an online electronics degree, inquire into what support the school offers to ensure students successfully learn necessary skills.
Licensing and certification for electronics technicians
There are no state licensing requirements for electronics technicians, but there are voluntary electronics certification programs. These are your way to demonstrate to employers that you have expertise in a specific area. To become certified, you may have to pass an exam or, for some credentials, have a certain amount of work experience.
The following are a few examples of electronics certification programs available:
- Associate Certified Electronics Technician (CETa): Offered by ETA International, this designation is designed for those who have less than two years work experience.
- Certified Consumer Technician: This credential is offered by The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians. It is intended for entry-level technicians who work in residential settings.
- Certified Automation Professional: The International Society of Automation offers this certification to workers with advanced skills related to the use of automation systems in manufacturing and other industries.
Career advancement in electronics
Electronics certification programs are one way to advance a career. Employers may be willing to pay more or promote workers who have demonstrated their expertise by becoming certified.
Another option may be to go back to school for a four-year electronics degree. Those with a bachelor's degree may be eligible for more advanced positions or supervisory roles.
Skills and Qualities for Electronics Technicians
We can't talk about how to become an electronics technician without also discussing the skills and abilities you need to get the job done right. Some of these things can be taught by an electronics technician school while others you may have to develop on your own.
- Systems analysis: Electronic parts work within a larger system, and electronics technicians must be able to see the big picture when troubleshooting problems and making adjustments.
- Complex problem solving: Because electronics are complex, system installations and repairs aren't always simple. Technicians may have to work through several layers of issues to correctly solve a problem.
- Problem sensitivity: To do their work efficiently, electronics technicians need to be able to anticipate problems before they occur. This is known as having problem sensitivity.
- Near vision: Electronics contain small parts, and technicians must be able to see them clearly.
- Finger dexterity: For electronics to work properly, their parts must be placed and connected precisely. Technicians need good finger dexterity to do that.
Career Outlook and Salary Information for Electronics Technicians
Once you have an electronics degree, you should be ready to enter the workforce. You might be wondering, how much do electronic technician make? How much you'll earn could depend on the education you received and whether you're certified. Workers in some parts of the country may also make more than those who live elsewhere. Here's an idea of an electronic technician salary and job growth outlook you might expect in the coming years based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Job Growth Rate|
|Electrical and Electronics Drafters||24,900||$64,400||6.7%|
|Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians||126,950||$65,050||2%|
|Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, Transportation Equipment||11,680||$61,460||2.9%|
|Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment||59,520||$59,210||2.4%|
|Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay||22,980||$80,040||3.7%|
|Electronic Equipment Installers and Repairers, Motor Vehicles||10,880||$36,750||-25.2%|
|Electronic Home Entertainment Equipment Installers and Repairers||26,070||$39,800||1.2%|
|Electronics Engineers, Except Computer||134,110||$107,930||3.7%|
Professional Resources for Electronics Technicians
If you're getting ready to enroll in an electronics trade school, you may also want to get to know these industry organizations.
- Electronics Technicians Association, International - Commonly called ETA International, this organization was founded in 1978 to represent the electronics industry. It offers more than 80 electronics certification programs and related credentials.
- International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians - Known as ISCET, this group was founded in 1965 to help train and prepare electronics technicians. It is a division of the National Electronics Service Dealers Association.
- IEEE - Standing for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization. It has nearly a quarter of a million members based in 160 countries.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed November 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
- Electronics Engineering Technology Certificate, Grand Rapids Community College, Accessed November 2018, https://www.grcc.edu/appliedtechnology/electronicsengineeringtechnologycertificate
- Electronics Engineering Technology Degree, Grand Rapids Community College, Accessed November 2018, https://www.grcc.edu/appliedtechnology/electronicsengineeringtechnologydegree
- Online Program Accreditation, ABET, Accessed November 2018, http://www.abet.org/accreditation/find-programs/
- Taking an ETA Certification Examination, ETA International, Accessed November 2018, http://www.eta-i.org/electronics.html
- General Information about ISCET Certification, ISCET, Accessed November 2018, http://www.iscet.org/certification/
- ISA Certified Automation Professional Certification Program, International Society of Automation, Accessed November 2018, https://www.isa.org/isa-certification/certified-automation-professional/
- Electronics Engineering Technicians, O*Net Online, Accessed November 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/17-3023.01