Computer Electronics Technology Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Info

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What will you learn in a computer electronics technology degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Computer Electronics Technology: Degrees at a Glance

Today's technologies, from basic office equipment to complex medical instrumentation, require special attention to continue operating. Specialists in the computer electronics technology industry keep computers, servers, medical equipment and other digital devices running efficiently. They apply their knowledge of electronics and high technology to the installation, repair and management of a variety of computer and electronic systems. Employers seek individuals with proven skills in hardware and software management, networking and general PC maintenance. In addition, employers are increasingly seeking candidates with a post-secondary education geared toward information technology or computer science.

The associate's degree in computer electronics technology will prepare you for entry-level opportunities in the technical industry. The bachelor's degree takes your education further and provides the foundation for a career in management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that job candidates could expect average (10%) through faster than average (19%) job growth in the industry from 2010-2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in entry-level support opportunities People who want to manage, design, administer and develop database systems or begin a career path toward management
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Customer service representative ($33,000)*
- Medical equipment repairer ($47,000)*
- Computer network support specialist ($48,000)*
- Electrical or electronics technician ($57,000)*
- Electrical or electronics engineer ($89,000 )*
- Computer hardware engineer ($101,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits
- Strong mathematics and science background
- Roughly 120 credits in general education, core and advanced courses
- Mathematics prerequisite (pre-calculus)
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Limited Yes (Hybrid or 2+2 programs are available)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Computer Electronics Technology

The associate's degree combines general education with hands-on training in circuitry and computer technology. The program will prepare you for entry-level occupations in the technology field through training in modern technologies. Career opportunities include computer support specialist or computer network support specialist, although competition against bachelor's degree holders may be keen. The increase in mobile communications and digital devices has increased the need for employees skilled in mobile electronics. Consequently, some schools structure their programs to provide training in current trends.

Upon graduation, you will demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills developed through a general education curriculum. In addition, you will learn to diagnose, troubleshoot and repair failing computer and networking systems and you may learn basic programming techniques in current operating systems.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Entry-level opportunities pay relatively competitive salaries
  • Programs offer strong hands-on experience in technical topics
  • Some opportunities only require a high school diploma, which makes your degree marketable
  • Articulation agreements with universities make transferring to a bachelor's degree easier

Cons

  • Some occupations will experience little to no change (2% for electrical and electronics engineering technicians) over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Competition against bachelor's degree holders may be keen
  • Advancement may require that you pursue higher education

Common Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree requires roughly 60 credits in general education, core and elective coursework. Some programs require proficiency in high school algebra or suitable scoring on a placement test. You will learn a combination of oral and written communication, analytical and technical skills through general coursework and hands-on courses presented in a laboratory environment. Some programs offer specializations in semi-conductor manufacturing, biomedical electronics technology or telecommunications technology, to name a few. Following are some common courses:

  • Computer systems
  • Computer networks
  • Fabrication techniques
  • DC and AC electronics
  • Digital electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Mobile installer

Online Degree Options

Locating an online computer electronics technology program may prove difficult. The hands-on nature of the training requires laboratory courses taken using the latest technologies. As a result, very few, if any, options are available for distance education. You may find online options in computer software, which emphasize business and software knowledge.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Experience and proven technical skills play a significant role in landing suitable employment. Taking advantage of internship opportunities will boost your marketability. In addition, consider pursuing an appropriate certification, which will validate your skills. The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) offers over 80 certification options. You may choose to pursue the ETA's Certified Network Systems Technician, Certified Service Technician, Certified Network Computer Technician or Wireless Network Technician credentials. In addition, joining and association, such as the Universal Association of Computer and Electronics Engineers, will demonstrate your commitment to the field.

Bachelor's in Computer Engineering Technology

The bachelor's degree can take your education further through general education, core and upper-division coursework. Schools structure programs to provide a strong background in practical skills coupled with extensive knowledge of modern technologies. You should possess a strong foundation in mathematics and science. You will demonstrate an understanding of analog and digital circuit design, apply mathematics to solve complex problems and execute the principles of electronic design upon graduation. The bachelor's degree will prepare you for opportunities in the computer and electronics engineering field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Entry into high-level opportunities usually requires a bachelor's degree
  • Programs offer a strong foundation in business and project management training
  • Salaries for some opportunities are especially competitive (e.g., computer hardware engineers earned $101,000 annually)*

Cons

  • Job growth for some opportunities will be slower than average (e.g. 6% for electrical and electronics engineers)**
  • Graduate education will lead to better job prospects for hardware engineering opportunities
  • Limited online education experiences are available

Common Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree requires roughly 120 credits in digital electronics, computer technology and general education requirements. Some programs require entry into a pre-calculus course during the first semester. In lieu of pre-calculus, you may need remedial mathematics courses prior to admission. The nature of the program may also require the purchase of tools, such as a test lead kit, during the first semester.

You will develop an understanding of project management, electronic systems and networks through courses designed for classroom and laboratory training. Some common courses include introduction to microprocessors, software tools for engineering, electronic circuits and devices, linear circuitry, microprocessor interfacing and technical communication.

Online Degree Options

Some colleges offer a bachelor's in electronics technology as a complete online experience. You may need an associate's degree in a closely related discipline to be admitted to the program. Schools structure online programs to mirror coursework offered through traditional degree options. Some programs offer a strong foundation in business or project management.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

While it may not be required, licensing can boost your employment potential. If you want to pursue an electrical or electronics engineering position, graduating from a program accredited by ABET is the first step toward licensing. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying administers the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, which you can pursue upon graduation from a bachelor's degree program. Taking courses in the technologies used in the healthcare system can also boost your marketability.

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