Mobile Electronics Certified Professional Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about a mobile electronics certified professional's job description, salary info and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a career in mobile electronics.
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Pros and Cons of a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional Career

Licensed mobile electronics professionals install and repair all electronic components inside a motor vehicle. Check out the pros and cons of being a mobile electronics certified professional to see if it's the right fit for you.

Pros of Being a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional
Positions require only high school diplomas*
On-the-job training may be available**
Minimal requirements for certification*
Voluntary formal education programs take less than a year to complete**

Cons of Being a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional
Negative job growth field (expected -6% change from 2012-2022)**
Lower salary (the range for the lowest 10 percent to the median for installers was $18,330-$31,020)**
Weekend and night shifts are often required*
Installers usually must provide their own work tools*

Sources: *MECP.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A mobile electronics certified professional is an individual who has received certification from the Mobile Electronics Certified Professional (MECP) program. Mobile electronics professionals work in auto repair shops, electronic and auto parts stores and other places where they install navigation, security, sound and video equipment in vehicles. Electronic equipment may include stereo speakers, remote starters, GPS systems, DVD players, Bluetooth devices and satellite radios.

Mobile electronics professionals are also responsible for testing newly installed components, identifying the cause of malfunctioning equipment and explaining to customers how to operate new electronic devices. As a mobile electronics professional, you'll likely be required to work evening, weekend and holiday shifts. The work environment has a high risk of injuries due to the use of heavy equipment and tools.

Salary and Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), technicians who install electronic equipment in motor vehicles earned median annual salaries of about $32,920 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The highest 10% of workers earned $49,290, while the lowest 10% earned $18,330. Technological advances have allowed engineers to develop better electronic systems for cars, thus decreasing the need for replacement parts. This increase in quality is responsible for an expected 6% decline in job openings from 2012-2022.

What Are the Requirements?

You can become a mobile electronics certified professional with a high school diploma. However, you may need to complete on-the-job training before you can work independently. The MECP offers certification at the basic, advanced and master levels. These certifications require technicians to pass examinations on topics such as security, wireless communications, navigation and troubleshooting. Work experience isn't required for basic certification, but at least one year of experience is needed for the advanced certification and three years for the master certification.

In addition to interpersonal and communication skills, mobile electronics certified professionals need strong mathematical, mechanical and automotive technology knowledge. The MECP lists the following as requirements for mobile electronics certified professionals:

  • Ability to use a digital multimeter to measure current and voltage
  • Understanding of Ohm's Law and Watt's Law
  • Knowledge of remote starter, security system and entertainment system components
  • Expertise in troubleshooting systems
  • Knowledge of how GPS systems operate in motor vehicles

What Do Employers Look for?

Employers generally seek mobile installation technicians rather than mobile electronics certified professionals. Job postings show that employers require technicians to have a variety of interpersonal and technical skills, a high school diploma and work experience in the automotive industry. Although not all the following job postings in August 2012 list certification as a requirement, they can give you an idea of other qualifications employers require.

  • A company in Detroit seeks an installation technician with a high school diploma and 1-2 years of experience installing car stereos, GPS systems and car alarms. Applicants must have the ability to install and repair 12-volt equipment. Other qualifications include the ability to travel, use Microsoft software, work outdoors, multi-task and communicate effectively with customers.
  • An electronics retailer in Colorado is looking for job candidates to install car audio equipment in a fast-paced work environment. The installer will receive commission pay and be expected to work weekend and night shifts. MECP certification and fluency in Spanish are preferred.
  • A Los Angeles company wants a mobile installation technician with a valid driver's license and at least one year of experience in mobile electronics. The posting requests applicants who have strong problem-solving skills, the ability to work independently, communication skills and the ability to prioritize tasks.
  • A New Jersey electronics store is seeking workers to install car speakers, video equipment, alarms, amplifiers and remote start systems. Ideal candidates will have their own hand tools, two years of related work experience and excellent customer service skills. Availability to work weekends is also required.
  • A Texas company that manufactures navigational systems seeks candidates who have MECP certification and two years of work experience. A degree or certificate from a formal training program can substitute for certification. Knowledge of Navigation Solutions standards is required.

How to Stand Out in the Field

High school students who complete a formal training program in mobile electronics installation may increase their chances of employment after graduation. A high school diploma is not usually required to enroll in a program, but you must be at least 16 years old. Technical schools and community colleges offer mobile electronics certificate programs that usually take less than one year to complete. Students who complete these programs will be better prepared for MECP certification exams since classroom instruction covers similar topics found on the exams. These programs include courses in audio and video systems, soldering, direct currents and alternating currents.

Other Careers to Consider

Home Entertainment Equipment Installer

If you're looking for a career in audio and video installation, consider becoming a home entertainment equipment installer. The BLS expects that these installers will have a 14% employment growth from 2010-2020. Home entertainment equipment installers typically work for appliance stores where they install and repair home theater systems, stereos and televisions in homes. These installers learn the trade from experienced installers during on-the-job training. According to the BLS, home entertainment equipment installers earned median annual salaries of approximately $34,000 in May 2011.

Electrician

Electricians install and repair electrical systems including outlets, lighting systems and circuit breakers in homes and businesses. Similar to mobile certified professionals, electricians may enter the field with just high school diplomas. However, electricians are required to complete 4-year apprenticeships consisting of classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training before they can work unsupervised. They are also required to have state-issued licenses before they can work.

Although electricians have similar education requirements as mobile electronics certified professionals, they earned higher annual salaries of about $49,000 in 2011, reported the BLS. Electricians also have a higher expected job growth at 23% from 2010-2020.

Automotive Service Technician

Instead of only installing and maintaining the audio and video systems in cars, you may want to become an automotive service technician so you can work on other car components, including brake and steering systems. To become an automotive service technician, you'll need to complete a postsecondary training program, which can last up to a year, and on-the-job training. Many employers also require technicians to receive certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. The BLS reports the median annual salary for automotive service technicians at around $36,000 in 2011 and the expected job growth at 17% from 2010-2020.

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