Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technician
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technician
Education and Training: High school plus two years of training
Salary: Median—$46,310 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians help design, develop, test, manufacture, and repair electrical and electronic equipment. Electrical components of equipment provide power. Electronic components control the equipment, although many types of equipment still are controlled with electrical devices.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians generally work under the supervision of electrical engineers. Technicians perform a wide variety of different tasks depending on the needs of their employer. Some electrical and electronic engineering technicians work for power companies that generate and transmit electricity, or they work for companies that use electricity to power machinery and lights. Others are employed by manufacturers of electrical equipment or telephone and telegraph companies. Still others have jobs with private firms that design and build factories, houses, and other buildings. A few technicians work as safety inspectors. Electrical and electronic engineering technicians work in all areas of the country. Most work for private companies. However, some work for public institutions that use electricity or for government agencies that regulate the electrical industry.
Many electrical and electronic engineering technicians work where electricity is generated. They are often employed by public utility companies, but some work for companies and institutions that generate their own electricity. These employers may include large industries, military bases, and institutions such as hospitals and colleges. Electrical and electronic engineering technicians are often directly involved in the generation of electricity. They may monitor switch-boards to make sure that the plant is operating efficiently. Sometimes they test and inspect generators, transformers, and other equipment. They may supervise crews of electrical workers who do routine work in the generating station. They often use their knowledge of electrical engineering technology to diagnose electrical problems. They may make repairs themselves or direct other electrical workers to do them.
Some electrical and electronic engineering technicians work for industrial plants that use electricity. They often study a plant's needs. They consult with engineers and offer advice on lighting and other uses of electrical power in the plant. They may plan, direct, and record tests done on electrical equipment, or recommend changes in equipment that is not operating efficiently. Sometimes they help companies solve production problems. For example, they may suggest a backup source of energy in case the circuits become overloaded at a particular point in the production process.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians often work with electrical engineers in the design of new electrical equipment, ranging from small household appliances to huge power generating plants. They perform a variety of tasks to assist the engineers, such as assembling and testing experimental electrical parts or making changes in parts according to an engineer's instructions. They may also prepare wiring diagrams, layout drawings, or engineering specifications for new equipment. Once a design for new equipment has been perfected, electrical and electronic engineering technicians may direct the crew of workers who produce or install it.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians work with such hand tools as wrenches, screwdrivers, wire cutters, pliers, and soldering irons. They also use precise instruments such as voltmeters, which measure electricity. In addition, they must be able to read and understand blueprints, as well as engineering handbooks.
Education and Training Requirements
You can get training in electrical technology at a technical institute, community college, and extension divisions of colleges. Most programs take about two years to complete. The armed services also run schools designed to prepare enlisted personnel for technical work in this field. A number of companies offer on-the-job training. Sometimes these company-sponsored training programs include some formal schooling at a college or technical institute. Training programs vary considerably in quality, so you should check out a prospective program thoroughly.
Getting the Job
Private companies looking for trained electrical and electronic engineering technicians often send lists of their job openings to placement offices at schools that offer courses in electrical technology. You can also apply directly to utility companies and other companies that hire technicians. Your state employment service may be able to help you find a job with a private company that will give you on-the-job training. State employment services are also good sources of information about jobs with government agencies. Sometimes positions for electrical and electronic engineering technicians are listed in newspaper classifieds or job banks on the Internet.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians often specialize and become highly skilled in one area of electrical technology. Technicians can become supervisors and managers of crews of electrical workers. Experienced technicians can also advance to positions as technical writers, sales representatives, and instructors in technical schools. Many technicians continue their education and become engineers.
Employment for skilled electrical and electronic engineering technicians is expected to grow at an average rate through 2014. This is due to the increasing demand for more sophisticated electrical systems. However, employment may be influenced by varying economic conditions. Those with practical work experience and knowledge of new technology will have the best opportunities.
Even though electric current can be dangerous, the safety record of the electrical industry is good. In general, working areas are in laboratories, offices, manufacturing or industrial plants, or on construction sites. Electrical and electronic engineering technicians working in generating plants or on production lines may be exposed to high noise levels. Most engineering technicians work at least forty hours a week. Some may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians must be able to work well as part of a team. They often come into direct contact with engineers, other electrical workers, and users of electricity. They need to be able to get along with all of these people. They should also be able to work by themselves at times. Their work requires them to pay close attention to details. They should also work well with their hands and have an aptitude for science and mathematics.
Where to Go for More Information
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
111 Market Place, Ste. 1050
Baltimore, MD 21202-4012
National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
1420 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314-2794
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings vary depending on education, experience, location, and kind of job. Median annual earnings of electrical and electronic engineering technicians were $46,310 in 2004. Benefits generally include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans.