Becoming a Stereo Technician: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a stereo technician? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary information to see if becoming a stereo technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Stereo Technician

The use of stereo equipment in consumers' homes, businesses and automobiles need someone to install and maintain them, and these are the professionals who do it. Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide if becoming a stereo technician is the right career choice for you.

Pros of a Career as a Stereo Technician
Minimal formal training required (often less than two years of postsecondary education)*
Ability to increase level of certification*
Get to work in the field*

Cons of a Career as a Stereo Technician
Injuries may be part of the job*
Evening and weekend work may be required*
May need to lift and bend to complete projects*

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

Career Information

For personal use, many consumers require the installation and maintenance of stereo equipment in their car or home entertainment system. Although, you may find work in a retail or home repair shop, you may be required to work as a field technician. These jobs often require a driver's license and excellent customer service skills. In order to work on electronic equipment, you will need excellent vision as well as a keen sense of hearing for tuning equipment.

O*NET OnLine projects no increase in employment for electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers from 2012-2022. Although the need for qualified technicians will persist, the increased reliability and affordability of equipment may cause employment to slow somewhat. According to the BLS, these professionals made a median annual wage of about $36,000 in May 2014, which is about equal to the average median wage for all occupations.

Education Requirements

Entry-level employment may require you to obtain an associate's degree or training certificate. Many professional certifications also require a certain level of academic training. You may find public vocational colleges or private schools in your area that provide the kind of certificate program required to begin gaining experience and attain professional certification.

Many courses can prepare you for different aspects of electronics technology. Supportive coursework in algebra or calculus may prepare you for the technical aspects of work with electronics. You may take courses on programmable components, direct and alternating current circuits, microprocessors and data communications. Certain programs may also allow you to hone your customer service skills for the workplace.

Useful Skills

In addition to having good technical skills, it's important to have strong customer service skills. You will often be required to work inside customers' homes and must maintain a friendly demeanor. Strong recordkeeping skills are also needed to keep accurate records and ensure that documents are kept in order.

Real Job Listings

Retailers throughout the country seek skilled technicians with certain common requirements. Here are a few real employment listings for stereo technicians from 2012:

  • A national company seeks automotive installation technicians for field technician work in several areas of the country. Applicants must possess a valid driver's license, excellent computer skills, written and verbal communication skills as well as customer service skills.
  • A large national retail company in Virginia seeks audio/video installers to perform custom installation. Two years of professional experience is required, or applicant must possess training certificate or degree.
  • A company in Florida seeks an automotive installation technician responsible for installing and maintaining electronic components. A valid driver's license and six months of experience is required as well as having Mobile Electronics Certified Professional (MECP) certification.

How to Get Ahead in This Career

While many states require a contractor's license for low voltage electronics technicians, particularly for work installing security alarm systems, commercial stereo installers and repairers generally do not need to be licensed. However, you may choose to gain professional certification through organizations such as the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA). The ETA provides many levels of certification, beginning with the Associate Certified Electronics Technician (CETa) for professionals with less than two years of experience or those who have completed an academic or professional training program. Here are some of the other certifications you can pursue through the ETA:

  • Student Electronics Technician (SET) - A credential for high school students and entry-level technicians
  • Commercial Audio Technician (CAT) - This is for stand-alone journeyman certification
  • Senior Technician - A professional with six or more years of experience between work and training
  • Master Technician - The same qualifications as the Senior Technician plus six stand-alone journeyman certifications

CAT Certification Examination Categories

Professionals who have obtained the CETa certification are eligible to take the CAT examination. The CAT examination tests your knowledge in the following areas:

  • Acoustics
  • Microphones
  • Speakers
  • Sound and Measurement
  • Wiring
  • 70 Volt Systems
  • Equipment Troubleshooting
  • Safety Codes and Standards

Alternative Careers for Electronics Technicians

Careers in Broadcast Technology

Your electronics training may prepare you for careers in broadcasting or sound engineering. While broadcast technicians use electronic equipment to transmit television and radio programming, sound engineering technicians record, mix and synchronize sounds. The BLS projects slower than average employment growth for sound engineering technicians over the coming years and little to no change in employment for broadcast technicians. This lack of growth may be due, in part, to high competition for jobs in larger metropolitan areas. Broadcast technicians, based on BLS 2011 data, earned a median salary of about $37,000, while sound engineering technicians earned a median salary of about $47,000.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Although careers for network and computer systems administrators may require a bachelor's or master's degree, the industry is expected to grow 28% from 2010-2020. The BLS projects that the increasing demand for wireless telecommunications and secure computer network systems should provide excellent employment growth. Based on BLS 2011 data, network and computer systems administrators earned a median salary of about $71,000.

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