Also called repair technicians and electrical mechanics, electronic technicians take care of electrical equipment in factories, broadcast studios, vehicles and industrial settings. They must avoid the hazards of electrical shock by making sure the devices being repaired are turned off and cannot be started by someone else. Other safety procedures include wearing protective clothing, such as goggles and hardhats.
Electronic technicians install, maintain and repair electrical equipment and electronic devices, primarily in industrial and commercial settings. As an electronic tech, you might find yourself calibrating controls that operate assembly lines, adjusting antennas in communications centers or even diagnosing electrical problems in a truck. You would test for proper functioning with multimeters and signal generators. Then you make repairs with powered and manual tools, so you need to be pretty handy. You also must keep records of the time and materials you used so you can prepare accurate billings for companies and customers.
As many types of specialties exist for electronic technicians as there are types of electronic devices. Motor vehicle technicians focus on the security, navigation, entertainment and electrical systems of cars and trucks, while those who specialize on transportation equipment look at trains and boats. Industrial equipment technicians concentrate on devices used in industry and commerce, such as automation controls and transmitters. Motor repairers handle the wiring and switches of motors used in generators and even golf carts. These professionals can also specialize according to where they work. Bench technicians work in well-lighted and quiet repair shops on portable electronics. Field technicians travel to factories to repair non-portable machines, so you might be working in noisy and dirty factories.
If you have a high school diploma and are willing to learn on the job, you may be eligible for some entry-level positions. However, most employers prefer applicants to have post-secondary training from vocational schools or community colleges. In any case, you first work under the supervision of experienced technicians before being allowed to go on repair calls on your own. Voluntary certification, such as from the Electronics Technicians Association International, can improve your chances of getting a job. Credentials generally require education and experience, and passing a test.
Although job prospects for electronic technicians vary by specialty, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are generally expected to be below the national average of 14 percent job growth from 2010 to 2020. Those focusing on electrical and industrial equipment will see little to no change in the number of jobs because automated equipment is becoming more reliable. Electric motor technicians will see 5 percent gains, with some jobs coming from retrofitting building generators to meet energy and environmental standards. Transportation and motor vehicle technicians are projected to show 2 percent to 3 percent gains. Many vehicle owners are having the latest electronic technology installed by technicians. But these systems are generally very reliable and require little maintenance.
- ONET OnLine: Summary Report for Electrical and Electronics Repairers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment for Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become an Electrical or Electronics Installer and Repairer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Outlook for Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.