Electronics Service Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary

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Learn about an electronics service technician's job description, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of an electronics service technician career.
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Pros and Cons of an Electronics Service Technician Career

Electronics service technicians, also known as electronics installers and repairers, install and maintain electronic equipment. Check out the pros and cons of an electronics service technician career before deciding if it's the right one for you.

Pros of Being an Electronics Service Technician
Some jobs are available with only a high school diploma*
Potential to earn a high salary (technicians in some fields earn median salaries of around $71,000)*
Variety of career paths (jobs available in industries including, manufacturing, transportation and motor vehicles)*
Voluntary certifications can improve employment prospects*

Cons of Being an Electronics Service Technician
Slow job growth (1% increase from 2012-2022)*
High risk of injuries (from electric shock and heavy lifting)*
Field technicians might work in loud, dirty or hot environments*
Travel or weekend shifts could be required**

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

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Electronics service technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining electronic equipment. They also replace malfunctioning components and provide labor estimates to customers. If you take a job in this field, you must also be able to use computer software and diagnostic hand tools, including multimeters, to make sure newly assembled equipment is functioning properly.

As an electronics service technician, you might travel to customers' homes or businesses to perform these tasks. These professionals are known as field technicians. Bench technicians, on the other hand, work from service centers or repair shops.

Popular Career Options

Most electronics service technicians specialize in one type of equipment, such as televisions, stereo systems and other types of home electronics. Technicians can also work for auto shops, where they fix navigation and security systems in cars. They might even repair and install transmitters and controls in manufacturing companies' industrial equipment. If you'd like to work with a branch of the armed forces, defense contractors also employ electronics service technicians to maintain electronic sonar and navigation systems in aircraft and watercraft.

Salary and Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), salaries for professionals who repair and install electronic equipment vary depending on what types of devices they work with. Powerhouse, substation and relay electrical and electronics repairers made the highest median salaries, which were around $71,000 as of May 2014. Electronics equipment installers and repairers who work with vehicle electronics made the lowest median salaries. They earned about $31,000 in the same year, while those who service electric motors and power tools, transportation and industrial equipment earned median annual salaries of approximately $39,000, $56,000 and $55,000, respectively.

Job opportunities for all types of electrical and electronics installers and repairers were expected to grow at a slower-than-average rate or decline from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. This slow job growth was attributed to the production of longer-lasting and more reliable electronic systems, which require less maintenance.

What Are the Requirements?

While some employers hire electronics service technicians who have a high school diploma, many require the completion of vocational training programs offered by technical schools and community colleges.

Several schools offer electronics or electronic service technology associate degree, diploma and certificate programs that can take anywhere from 1-2 years to complete. Students usually take basic courses in algebra, trigonometry and computer science. Coursework also includes hands-on training and classroom instruction in microprocessors, AC and DC circuits, computer electronics and wireless communications.

Useful Skills

Once employed, entry-level electronics service technicians often work under the supervision of more experienced technicians. During this introductory training period, look for opportunities to develop the following skills and abilities:

  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Troubleshooting abilities
  • Customer service skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • Computer skills (Microsoft and SAP software)
  • Ability to use diagnostic tools

What Do Employers Look For?

In addition to education and experience, the majority of employers advertised for electronics service technicians with customer service and computer skills as well as a familiarity with the tools of the trade. Take a look at the following September 2012 job posts to get an idea of the skills and knowledge employers were looking for:

  • A manufacturing company in Houston, TX, sought an electronics technician who could test and repair wireless instrumentation and control technologies. Candidates needed a 2-year degree in electronics and experience using such equipment as meters, oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers. Additional experience with radio electronics and SAP software was a plus.
  • A California defense contractor was looking for an electronics technician to assist in the installation, maintenance and repair of combat systems aboard U.S. Navy aircraft. Candidates must have completed a vocational training program and acquired six months of experience working with analog and digital electronics. Other qualifications included strong communication and computer skills as well as the ability to obtain a government security clearance and lift up to 70 pounds.
  • A well-known department store with a location in Montana sought an electronics service technician to install and repair appliances, such as televisions and audio equipment, in customers' homes. A high school diploma and three years of related work experience were required. The position also required candidates to be able to work with a team, maintain a clean and organized work environment, meet deadlines and provide excellent customer service.
  • A Louisville, KY, business advertised for an electronics service technician who could repair industrial equipment. Eligible applicants needed an associate degree in electronics and at least two years of experience repairing control systems for AC and DC motors. Other requirements included the ability to travel, use multimeters and oscilloscopes, climb ladders and lift up to 100 pounds. Excellent math, computer, communication, diagnostic and customer service skills were also required.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Get Certified

According to the BLS, electronics service technicians can set themselves apart from other applicants in this competitive job field by obtaining certification from such organizations as the Electronics Technicians Association International. If you have little to no experience in the field, you can apply for the Associate Certified Electronics Technician designation, which is awarded after passing an exam covering such topics as electronic components, electrical theory, soldering and job safety.

Once you've acquired two years of work experience, you can sit for journeyman-level exams in such specialty areas as fiber optics, wireless networks, satellites and security systems. To receive the Master Certified Electronics Technician designation, you'll need to earn six of these specialized certifications and have six years of work experience.

Complete an Associate Degree Program

While electronics or electronic service technology certificate, diploma and associate degree programs all include similar coursework in such topics as circuitry and microprocessors, curriculum for a 2-year degree often requires additional instruction in communications, math and other general education course topics. According to the BLS, job applicants who've completed one of these degree programs might face better employment prospects.

Alternative Career Paths

Telecommunications Equipment Installers

If you're wary of the dismal employment projections for most electronics service technicians, consider becoming a telecommunications equipment installer instead. The BLS projected a more favorable job growth of 15% for these professionals over the 2010-2020 decade. And while you might need a 2- or even 4-year degree to prepare for a job installing phone and internet equipment, the median annual salary is higher than that of most electronics service technician positions. As of May 2011, these professionals earned median salaries of almost $54,000.

Electronic Engineering Technician

Alternately, if you're more interested in the design and development of electronic equipment, consider training for a job as an electronic engineering technician. These professionals assist electronic engineers by documenting design procedures, testing circuits, writing lab reports and troubleshooting equipment malfunctions. The salaries for electrical and electronics engineering technicians are also relatively high. According to the BLS, these professionals earned median annual wages of around $57,000 per year in May of 2011. However, only a 2% job growth was projected for electrical and electronic engineering technicians over the 2010-2020 decade. An associate degree is generally required to break into this career field.

Electronics Engineer

Electronics engineers also earn significantly more money than electronics service technicians. According to the BLS, electronics engineers earned median annual salaries of about $92,000 in 2011. They were also projected to experience a comparable job growth of 5% from 2010-2020. However, with higher salaries come more extensive education requirements. Electronics engineers must earn a bachelor's degree in engineering to qualify for entry-level employment.

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