Pros and Cons of an Electronic Engineering Technician Career
An electrical engineering technician uses electronic theory to design and build electronic components; this may include machinery and circuit controls. Read on for the pros and cons of this career to see if it is right for you:
|Pros of Being an Electronic Engineering Technician|
|Associate's degree is the typical minimum educational requirement*|
|Variety in a work settings (factories, offices, labs, etc.)*|
|Often work normal working hours*|
|Get to solve technical problems and develop products*|
|Cons of Being an Electronic Engineering Technician|
|No employment growth (zero percent from 2012-2022)*|
|May be exposed to hazardous materials*|
|Manufacturing industries are in decline, which affects the employment of these workers*|
|Not much independence on the job, since most technicians must follow the instructions of engineers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Job Description and Duties
Electronics engineering technicians work under the supervision of engineers to develop and test products, which can range from electron tubes to computer equipment. Many of these technicians work in research and development (R&D). Some common job duties include reading schematics or blueprints, diagnosing issues in equipment, assembling products, following the instructions of engineers and repairing systems.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, from 2012-2022, employment in this field was not expected to grow. The lack of employment growth may be due to the decline of manufacturing industries, which is a major employer of electronic engineering technicians.
In May 2014, the BLS reported that these workers earned a median annual salary of about $59,000. Technicians in the middle half earned annual wages ranging from $45,000 to $72,000; the highest ten percent of technicians earned an annual salary of about $87,000.
Requirements for the Job
An associate's degree in electronic engineering technology is required to work in this field. In the program, you will take courses in programming, circuits, physics and other areas related to electrical engineering. Both technical schools and community colleges offer these kinds of courses for aspiring technicians. You might want to consider educational programs that are accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission (ABET), which sets a quality standard for training.
You need to have these following skills or traits to work in the field:
- Analytical skills
- Communication skills (both writing and speaking)
- Like working with electronics, technology and computers
- Dexterity to work with equipment and complex components
- Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills
Job Postings from Real Employers
Typically, employers want technicians who have good communication skills and some work experience. The following are job postings from April 2012:
- A design company in New Jersey is looking for an electronics engineering technician with an associate's degree and at least two years of work experience. The technician would build, repair and develop prototype circuits using technology like SolidWork and AutoCAD. Applicants need to have strong analytical and communications skills, and they would also need to use basic Microsoft programs like Excel and Word.
- An electronics company in Oklahoma sought an electronics engineering technician who can troubleshoot equipment and provide quality customer service. Applicants need to have an associate's degree in electronics and 1-2 years of work experience.
- A company located in Georgia needed a senior test electronics engineering technician who had at least eight years of work experience, a high school diploma and a technical school degree. The applicant would be familiar with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, diagnostic equipment (oscilloscopes and multi-meters), printed circuit boards (PCBs), schematics and automated test equipment (ATE).
- A time technology company in Massachusetts wants an electronics engineering technician with an associate's degree and 5-10 years of work experience in R&D. Applicants need to be able to work independently and have strong communication skills. Proficiency in Microsoft Office programs is also required.
Standing Out From the Rest
While it's possible to earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, this level of education is more for engineers. However, if you are considering advancement opportunities, then you may consider obtaining a 4-year degree. Some employers also prefer or require technicians who had experience with computer programs. Taking computer science courses in high school or in a postsecondary school can teach you how to use programs like Microsoft Excel or Word.
If you want a career that focuses more on installing or repairing electronic or mechanical systems, then you can become an electro-mechanical technician. These technicians usually test factory machinery or assembly machines. You can work as an electro-mechanical technician with a certificate or an associate's degree. From 2010-2020, the BLS expects that these technicians would only experience a one percent growth in employment. In May 2011, the BLS states that these workers earned a median annual wage of about $51,000.
Electronics engineers also work in R&D, but they design new products like software or systems for customers. They evaluate systems by analyzing the needs of the customers and industries. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree for an electronic engineer. According to the BLS, these workers have an expected employment growth rate of five percent from 2010-2020. The BLS states that these workers made a median annual salary of about $92,000 in May 2011.