Becoming an Electronics Technician: Salary & Job Description

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Get the truth about an electronics technician's salary, education requirements and career outlook. Read the job descriptions and see the pros and cons of becoming an electronics technician.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an Electronics Technician

Electronics technicians, also known as electronics engineering technicians, help to build, test and repair electronics equipment commonly found in machine controls and computer systems. If you are still unsure about becoming an electronics technician, read the pros and cons to help you decide if this field is right for you.

Pros of Becoming an Electronics Technician
High pay potential (median annual salary of about $60,000 in 2014)*
Minimum education requirements (2-year associate's degree common)*
Ability to work in several different industries (Architectural, manufacturing, electromedical)*
Potential job growth may be caused by additional demand for portable devices and integrated systems*

Cons of Becoming an Electronics Technician
Stagnant employment outlook (Two percent decline expected between 2014 and 2024)*
Many related manufacturing industries are in decline*
May be required to work with hazardous materials*
Career advancement may require a bachelor's degree and licensure*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Duties

As an electronics technician, you primarily provide support to electronics engineers. Duties can include assembling prototypes according to detailed schematics, ensuring proper device execution and troubleshooting problematic electronics. You may also have to calibrate and maintain devices, assist in device design and repair damaged units. Some technicians are also tasked with modifying designs as suggested by an electronics engineer. Some devices that an electronics technician may work on include test equipment, computers, machine instrumentation, medical monitoring devices, communications equipment and electron tubes.

Career Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field is expected to show a two percent employment decline between 2014 and 2024. Although a decline in manufacturing industries is keeping this field from rapidly expanding, companies contracting out work to reduce costs may help stimulate some growth. Additional growth may also be caused by an increase in computer system, mobile device and integrated system design careers. As of May 2014, the BLS also noted that workers in this field earned a median salary of about $60,000.

Education Requirements

To enter this field, employers commonly require you to have an associate's degree in electronic engineering technology or a similar subject. If you earn a bachelor's degree, you may be able to find advanced technologist or applied engineer positions. During these programs, you may learn about microcontrollers, digital systems, basic computer programming, computer networks, electronics assembly, project design and circuitry analysis. You may also develop skills creating electronic schematics, recognizing circuit components, establishing power supplies and working with communication devices. You may also be able to find programs offering hands-on development through laboratory courses and internships.

Useful Skills

To be successful in this field, you may need to have the ability fix any unexpected circuitry problems when following design schematics. You also need to understand instructions detailed by engineers and know how to monitor systems to ensure continuous operation stability. Writing skills are also necessary when compiling reports that detail component issues and testing results. The following are general traits that may be required by some employers:

  • Experience using Microsoft Office applications
  • Ability to use power tools
  • Strong written and oral communication skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

These positions can often be found with employers specializing in electronics repair, maintenance or engineering. You may also be able to find in-house work with companies that utilize electronics. Many employers will require you to have some skills in working with computer and electrical systems, and most prefer to hire candidates with a degree. The following examples were gathered from a May 2012 national job board sampling:

  • An educational institute in New York was looking for an electronics technician able to fix data acquisition systems. Candidates were expected to have a bachelor's degree and understand basic computer programming
  • A manufacturer in Iowa was searching for someone to work with digital circuits and read computer schematics. A background in electronics and some experience working with digital circuits was required.
  • An electronics design and manufacturing firm in North Dakota advertised for someone able to test oscilloscopes and build test harnesses. Candidates were expected to have an associate's degree in electronics or equivalent experience, as well as strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • A biotechnology company in Massachusetts was looking for an electronics technician to build and test controls for robotics systems. Candidates were expected to be able to evaluate the operation of newly installed systems and troubleshoot electrical system problems. An associate's degree or equivalent training was required.

How to Make Your Skills Stand out

If you are interested in demonstrating your abilities by earning a certification, you may want to earn the Associate Certified Electronics Technician (CETa) designation offered by Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) International. To qualify for the CETa exam, you need to have less than two years of experience or trade school education. You will also need to pass a written exam that covers topics in electronic components, electrical theory, computer applications, digital concepts, electronic circuitry, safety precautions and power supplies. The CETa designation is only active for two years and can't be renewed. Instead of renewing your designation, the ETA requires you to advance to a journeyman certification in your area of choice and specialization.

Alternative Career Paths

If you don't want to help with the development of electronics, you may be interested in a career as an electrical or electronics repairer and installer. In this field, you may be in charge of testing computer equipment, estimating costs, replacing defective parts, operating power tools, assembling electronic components and reading complex system schematics. To work in this field, you may need to complete an associate's degree program. Some employers may hire candidates who only have a high school education. According to the BLS in May 2011, workers in this field earned a median salary of around $50,000.

If you want to have more responsibilities, you may want to consider becoming an electronics engineer. In this field, you may be tasked with developing components for electronics, modifying previous designs, maintaining electronics, analyzing systems and establishing system plans. Employers may require you to earn a bachelor's degree in a related field. Some education programs also offer professional and practical skill development through cooperative education. If you would like to increase your opportunities of being hired, you may want to pursue a professional engineer license. As of May 2011, the BLS estimated that electronics engineers earned a median salary of about $92,000.

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