Study Electronics: Certificate, Career Diploma & Online Degree Info

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Certificates and diplomas in electronics can prepare students for careers as field technicians, electronics installers, or telecommunications equipment repairers. Get the truth about the requirements, courses, and career options, and find out what you can do with your electronics training.
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Electronics Certificates and Diplomas: Programs at a Glance

Earning an electronics certificate or diploma could give you a solid foundation of electrical theory and the core skills needed to install or repair a variety of electronics. The skills learned in either program can help you secure an entry-level position with repair shops, telecommunications businesses, or similar companies as an electronics installer or repairer. However, a job designing or manufacturing new electronics typically requires an associate's degree or higher.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that electronics and electrical installers and repairers, which included field technicians, were expected to see five percent job growth from 2010 until 2020. In comparison, home entertainment equipment installers and repairers were expected to see 14% job growth during that same period, while telecommunications equipment repair and installation professionals could see 15% job growth. Competition for employment may be strong, and formal training in cutting-edge technology and installation methods might give you better prospects.

Certificate Diploma
Who Is this Program For? Individuals interested in entry-level electronics repair or installation Individuals seeking entry-level work repairing or installing electronics
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Home entertainment equipment repairer or installer ($37,000)*
- Power tool repairer ($38,000) *
- Transportation equipment repairer ($53,000)*
- Telecommunications equipment repairer ($54,000)*
- Diploma program graduates are eligible for the same jobs as certificate program graduates
Time to Completion 1 year if enrolled full-time 1-2 years if you enroll as a full-time student
Common Graduation Requirements - Typically 15-30 credits
- Most programs don't require general education classes
- Core course emphasis on AC and DC circuits, digital and analog circuits, and solid-state devices
- Typically 40 or more credits
- Typically require general education classes like math, English, and social sciences
- Same core topics as a certificate, but may also offer elective classes in green energy technologies, robotics, computer-aided drafting (CAD), or other advanced electronics technologies
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Some classes are online, although most programs have a hands-on emphasis Some classes are online, although most courses focus on work in labs

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2012 figures)

Electronics Certificate

Typically, you'll find electronics certificate programs at community colleges and technical schools, and these programs often emphasize learning core tool usage skills, electronics theory, and safety procedures, which may aid you in finding employment. Most electronics certificate programs require you to complete between 15 and 30 credits, which may take a year or two. However, some certificate programs are structured like diploma programs, with general education requirements. Class time in an electronics certificate program is often split between lectures and laboratory work. Therefore, online courses aren't readily available, although some of the training in electrical theory may be offered in an online format.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Allows you to obtain core skills in troubleshooting issues and repairing a wide range of electronics
  • Theoretical training is reinforced with hands-on lab work
  • Employers may prefer applicants with formal training*

Cons

  • Training is typically focused on repair skills, not design or manufacture of electronics
  • May only qualify you for entry-level work
  • You may be competing for jobs with individuals holding associate's or bachelor's degrees*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

An electronics certificate typically introduces you to the core concepts of electrical theory, while giving you an opportunity to work with a variety of electrical circuits and electronic devices. These programs often have no general education requirements, although some certificate programs do require classes in math or English.

Examples of classes you might take in an electronics certificate program include:

  • AC circuits
  • DC circuits
  • Solid-state devices
  • Analog circuits
  • Digital circuits
  • Magnetic circuits
  • Oscilloscope usage

Within these classes, you'll learn to use electrical meters, circuit-testing equipment, and electrical tools. Safety topics, like properly grounded equipment and the national electric code, may also be covered. Some associate's programs allow you to count credits from your certificate toward an associate's degree.

Online Course Info

Since technical and community colleges have designed their electronics certificate programs to teach you the core skills and safety procedures needed for employment, your options for online study are limited. Few electronics certificate programs are available completely online; instead, some may offer a class or two in electrical theory or safety via online lectures. These classes may also be offered in a hybrid format, with lectures available online and labs available on the school's campus.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You can give yourself an edge in the job market if you select a certificate program that offers training in green energy technologies or telecommunications equipment, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted stronger job growth in those fields. You might also consider programs that offer training in installation (for example, learning to install home entertainment equipment), rather than enrolling in a program that concentrates only on troubleshooting and repair skills. After completing your certificate, you might also consider optional certifications, like those offered by the Electronics Technicians Association or the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians.

Degree Alternatives

Since most certificate programs provide training for entry-level work, you might consider an associate's or bachelor's degree program in engineering technology or a related field, which could lead to a career as an electronic engineering technician. These programs include foundational training in electrical theory and electronic circuitry; they also teach you skills in designing and manufacturing these components. Although electronic engineering technicians were also expected to see little or no job growth between 2010 and 2020, this level of training may allow you to move up in a company more quickly than if you only have an electronics certificate. These positions may also have higher salaries.

Electronics Diploma

Like certificate programs, electronics diploma programs are often available through technical schools or community colleges. These programs teach you electronics theory, troubleshooting skills, and safety procedures, and general education requirements are usually included. If you complete a diploma program, you're often eligible for jobs similar to those held by someone who earned an electronics certificate. Electronics diploma programs typically require 40 or more credits, which may take two years to complete. Many diploma programs require general education prerequisite classes, like English or mathematics; however, some are structured like certificate programs, offering only core electronics classes. As with a certificate program, the diploma program classes are split between lab time and lectures, so online courses may not be available.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provides you with core electronics skills and general education background
  • May offer you electives in robotics, computer networks, or renewable energy systems installation and repair, among others
  • You may find a job more quickly with formal training than an applicant who intends to learn on the job*

Cons

  • These programs may take longer than certificates while preparing you to compete with a certificate-holder for employment
  • Your path to advancement may be limited with only a diploma
  • Many jobs in electronics repair and installation were expected to see average to slow growth*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Electronics diploma programs are similar to electronics certificate programs, offering you core training in electrical theory and experience in repairing basic components, like AC and DC circuits, analog and digital circuits, and solid-state devices. The biggest difference between these two programs is that a diploma program typically requires you to complete some general education classes, and diploma programs may offer elective courses in more advanced technologies.

Depending on the program you select, you may have elective choices in:

  • Computer-aided drafting (CAD)
  • Photovoltaic systems
  • Soldering
  • Fiber optics networks
  • Computer repair
  • Blueprint reading
  • GPS navigation design

These and similar classes may prepare you to work with more advanced technologies than a certificate program does. In addition, you may be able to transfer credits from a diploma program into an associate's program or bachelor's program, which could lead to a higher starting salary.

Online Class Information

Diploma programs are similar to certificate programs, providing you with opportunities to learn troubleshooting, repair, and installation skills by working on a regular basis with electronics and electrical components. Therefore, online classes are not often part of a diploma program's coursework. If online classes are available, they may be in a hybrid format.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You may give yourself an advantage on the job market if you choose a diploma program that offers training in installation, green energy technologies, or GPS navigation. Some electronics diploma programs include classes that prepare you to sit for the industry's certification examinations. While these certifications are often optional, sitting for these examinations could make you more attractive to potential employers. If you're interested in working for a telecommunications company, you may find that employers strongly prefer or require you to obtain certification from the Telecommunications Industry Association or the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Electronics Engineering Technology
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    Associate's
      • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology
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    2. Kaplan University

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    Bachelor's
      • BSIT: Network Admin
    Associate's
      • AASIT: Network Admin
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    3. Brightwood College

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    Certificate
      • Electrical Technician
      • Electrical Technician Diploma
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    4. University of Delaware

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      • Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
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    5. Purdue University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Engineering Technology
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    6. Full Sail University

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    Bachelor's
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
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    7. Colorado Technical University

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    Master's
      • Master: Computer Engineering
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    8. Universal Technical Institute

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    Certificate
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    9. Penn Foster Career School

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      • Career Diploma: Electronics Technician
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      • Electrical/Electronics

Featured Schools

ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Electronics Engineering Technology
  • Bachelor's - Mechatronics
  • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology

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Kaplan University

  • BSIT: Network Admin
  • AASIT: Network Admin

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Brightwood College

  • Electrical Technician
  • Electrical Technician Diploma

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Engineering Technology

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)

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Colorado Technical University

  • Master: Computer Engineering

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Universal Technical Institute

  • Diesel Technology
  • Automotive Technology
  • NASCAR Technology

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