Electronics Digital Technology Degrees: Career Diploma, Associate & Online Class Info

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What kind of diploma or associate degree can you pursue to learn about electronics digital technology? Find out about diploma and associate degree requirements, online options and courses in electronics digital technology.
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Studying Electronics Digital Technology: Diplomas and Associate Degrees at a Glance

If you want to gain an education in electronics digital technology, you might choose to enroll in a basic electronics diploma program or an associate degree program in electronics engineering technology that covers areas specific to digital technology, such as digital logic and microprocessor principles. While electronics or electronic engineering technology could be an ideal field for you if you enjoy hands-on work, the career outlook isn't very bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for electrical and electronics installers or repairers was forecast to grow by just three percent in the decade spanning 2010-2020, while electrical and electronics engineering technicians might see only a two percent increase. However, the BLS noted that demand could be higher for electrical and electronics engineering technicians who work alongside engineers in computer systems design as computers and electronics systems become increasingly integrated.

Diploma Associate Degree
Who Is this Program For? Individuals interested in entry-level jobs in electronics installation and repair Individuals interested in entry-level jobs in electronics installation and repair or electronics engineering technology
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Electronic home entertainment equipment installer and repairer ($36,400)*
- Electronic motor vehicle equipment installer and repairer ($32,900)*
Career paths for the associate degree are similar to those of the diploma, although there might be more advancement opportunities for candidates holding an associate degree. Additionally, graduates of an associate degree program might find work as an electronics engineering technician ($57,200)*.
Time to Completion 2-4 semesters full-time 4 semesters full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None beyond the diploma's required coursework One or more cooperative work experiences
Prerequisites High school diploma High school diploma
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Diploma in Basic Electronics

In a diploma program in basic electronics, students learn about digital and analog circuits, electronic power supplies, basic wiring and instruments used to measure voltage. Some programs might delve into more specific areas of interest, such as audio and radio frequency circuitry. On-campus programs tend to require completion of basic skills courses in English, communications and mathematics, while some online programs concentrate solely on electronics.

Pros and Cons


  • Many programs can be completed in as little as two semesters
  • Most of the training is hands-on
  • Credits often can be applied toward an associate degree in electronics engineering technology or a related field


  • Not all programs offer work experiences outside of the classroom or lab
  • Diploma graduates might still have to complete an apprenticeship or extensive on-the-job training
  • Job opportunities in electronics installation and repair should be best for those with an associate degree*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses

On-campus programs in basic electronics typically require completion of 40 credit hours of courses. If your specific interest lies in digital technology, you should seek an electronics program that includes classes like the following:

  • Alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) circuit analysis
  • Basic and advanced microprocessor principles
  • Digital logic
  • Programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
  • Technical mathematics

Online Diploma Options

Because of the hands-on nature of electronics, online diploma programs in this field are rare. Those that are offered can be completed entirely online, including exams. Curricula are similar to on-campus programs. Most online offerings supplement lessons with learning aids, such as DVDs, textbooks and schematics, and include hands-on exercises that you can complete at home. A tool kit might be included in the cost of your tuition.

Getting Ahead with this Diploma

As a diploma candidate in basic electronics, you likely won't be required to complete a cooperative work or internship experience. However, some on-campus programs offer such an option, and taking advantage of these opportunities could help you stand out to prospective employers. Additionally, you might want to choose a program that offers courses in audio electronics since this could expand your job options.

Completion of a diploma program in basic electronics might qualify you for certification through the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) International. The Associate Electronics Technician (CETa) designation is available to technicians with trade school-level training in electronics who have passed a basic electronics exam. Holding this designation can demonstrate your competence to prospective employers, and it's the first step toward higher-level ETA International certifications.

Other Paths to Consider

If you're looking for a career with better job prospects that will still allow you to work with your hands, you might consider becoming an electrician. Most electricians train through 4-year apprenticeship programs; however, you also could pursue an online or on-campus diploma program for prospective electricians through a technical or community college. These programs sometimes require the completion of more credits than an electronics diploma program, but the extra time invested could be worth it when it comes time to find a job. According to the BLS, electricians could see a 23% change in employment between 2010 and 2020, and they made significantly more than electronics equipment installers and repairers as of May 2011, with a mean annual salary of $52,910.

Another career that might interest you, and that has a hefty annual salary, is elevator installer and repairer. For this job, you'd spend more time training (most elevator installers and repairers complete a 4-year apprenticeship), but you'd earn significantly more than you would as an electronics installer and repairer (the BLS reported a mean wage of $73,560 for elevator installers and repairers as of May 2011). The BLS projected an 11% increase in jobs for elevator installers and repairers from 2010-2020, but with the small size of this field, that only translates to about 2,300 jobs.

Associate Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology

Like diploma programs in electronics, associate degree offerings teach electronics fundamentals, but they also delve into more advanced topics. Additionally, associate degree programs usually include a full slate of general education classes, as opposed to the handful of basic skills classes required in a diploma program.

Pros and Cons


  • On-campus programs typically include multiple cooperative work experiences
  • Some employers prefer candidates with an associate degree over those with a diploma*
  • You might be able to apply your credits toward a bachelor's degree in engineering technology or a related field


  • To complete some programs within two years, you'll have to take summer classes
  • You might be applying for the same jobs as someone with a bachelor's degree
  • Projected job growth for electrical and electronics engineering technicians is well below average (two percent increase projected from 2010-2020)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses

As an electronics engineering technology student, you should have an opportunity to complete one or more cooperative work experiences. Additionally, you should be able to choose professional electives in topics like signals and systems and applied digital logic, which could help you pursue your interest in digital electronics. Your core courses might include the following:

  • Advanced circuit analysis
  • C programming
  • Computer basics
  • Industrial electronics
  • Printed circuit board design

Online Associate Degree Options

As with diploma programs, you'll find that online associate degree offerings in electronics engineering technology are rare. However, those that are available can be completed entirely online. Some online courses utilize simulation software, such as Electronics Workbench, for lab work. This allows you to perform exercises like modifying circuits through on-screen editing. Specialized software also may be required for programming courses. Curricula for online associate degree programs tend to mirror those of on-campus programs; however, online students might not have to meet cooperative experience requirements.

Stand Out with this Degree

As an electronics engineering technician, you must be able to effectively communicate with engineers. In addition to reporting on the actual construction of electronics projects, you need to be able to clearly define results of these projects, including any troubles you encountered while carrying out an engineer's designs. Thus, you can make yourself stand out to prospective employers by choosing a degree program that allows you to build your oral communications and writing skills.

You also might catch the eye of employers if you're good with your hands. Completing courses in soldering, as well as those that allow you to work hands-on with small electronic parts and circuitry, could help you improve your manual dexterity.

Additionally, graduating from a program that's been accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET could give you a boost. Graduation from such a program can assure potential employers that you've taken courses in engineering, mathematics, science and technology and that your skills and knowledge have been evaluated by your instructors.

Another Option to Consider

If you're willing to put in four years of schooling, you could cash in on a career as an electronics engineer. According to the BLS, job opportunities for electrical and electronics engineers could increase by six percent in the 2010-2020 decade; this was below the average for all occupations but still higher than projections for electronics engineering technicians. Additionally, electronics engineers make significantly more than electronics engineering technicians, with a mean annual salary of $94,670 as of May 2011, based on BLS figures. To work as an electronics engineer, you'll typically need a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering or a related field. You also might need to attain licensure.

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