Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians Overview
Out of all engineering technicians, 33 percent of them are electrical and electronic engineering technicians. Since the job market varies by a specific specialty as well as economic conditions, those with an associates degree in electrical and electronic engineering technology or other postsecondary training will have a better chance of finding employment.
Nature of the Work for Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians
Unlike other scientists and engineers, the work and practices of an electrical and electronic engineering technician is specialized and application-oriented while using learned principles of mathematics, science and engineering.
While using these principles and specializing in their work, electrical and electronic engineering technicians solve technical problems that may arise in areas of research, manufacturing, sales, construction, inspection and maintenance. This work is most often performed when assisting other scientists or engineers, especially in areas of development and research. Their work includes equipment building, recording results and sometimes creating prototype versions of designs. Their assistance is also valuable in drafting (CADD) equipment as well as design work. While some electrical and electronic engineering technicians work in areas of development and research, others focus on collecting data, conducting tests, inspecting products and quality control.
Those who choose to work in manufacturing can help scientists and engineers with product design, production and even development.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians are not only skilled in the repair and maintenance of electrical and mechanical equipment, but they also deal with installations, covered in the Handbook.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians are involved in many aspects of design, development, testing and manufacturing. Their role with electrical and electronic equipment is to perform tasks on medical monitoring devices, communication equipment, computers, and navigational equipment. Their work can also involve testing and product evaluation where electrical and electronic technicians may measure and perform diagnostic testing to repair and adjust equipment.
Those who primarily repair electronic and electrical equipment are sometimes if not often referred to as electronic technicians.
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians will usually work a 40 hour work week in a laboratory, office, industrial plant or even outdoors. Though electrical and electronic engineering technicians are exposed to various chemicals, it is rare for anything serious to occur.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians
An associates degree in electrical and electronics engineering technology or postsecondary training in engineering technology is important for employers looking to hire electrical and electronic engineering technicians. Those without appropriate training may need more training on the job to learn necessary skills. Such training is available at community colleges, technical institutes, college and university extensions, the Armed Forces as well as public and private vocational-technical schools.
Before obtaining an associates degree or postsecondary training, one looking to become an electrical and electronics engineering technician should take as many math and science courses available at their high school.
For a 2-year associates degree program, one should expect to take one or two basic science courses and at least one course in algebra or trigonometry. Most programs accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires the completion of these courses. With about 700 ABET-accredited courses available, engineering technicians can hone in on a specialty.
For each type of engineering technician, the types of technical courses offered will vary. For electrical and electronics engineering technicians, courses such as digital electronics, electrical circuits or microprocessors may need to be completed.
For those completing courses at technical institutes, a 2-year associates degree program is offered, similar to what a community college or university would offer. Their training involves an emphasis on application and practice.
For electrical and electronics engineering technicians interested in completing their education at a community college, the curriculums they offer emphasize theory and liberal arts and offer associates degrees. Completion of the 2-year programs means that many electrical and electronics engineering technicians enter into the workplace to look for careers or continue on to complete their 4-year degree.
Though community colleges offer 2-year degree programs for engineering technicians, a degree in pre-engineering is different than a degree in engineering technology. For those enrolled in the 2-year pre-engineering program, electrical and electronics engineering technicians may find it more difficult to find work due to their lack of hands on experience if they decide not to go forward with their 4-year program.
But, those who complete the 2-year program in engineering technology who want to transfer to a 4-year program may not receive credit for certain courses taken.
Though many 4-year programs do not offer engineering technician training, courses completed in mathematics, science, and engineering are helpful in obtaining employment.
Those who graduate from a 4-year program with a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology usually work as technologists or applied engineers.
If you are looking to complete your education at a vocational-technical school, training will include courses for local students to jump into the job market for local employers. Schools offering engineering technician training usually require a high school diploma or the equivalent.
The training in the Armed Forces is narrow and highly regarded by employers. Due to refined courses and coursework, engineering technicians may not be applicable to work in the civilian industry and may need additional training after course completion in the Armed Forces.
Other important qualifications for electrical and electronics engineering technicians are good communications skills, creativity, and the ability to work in teams.
After training is completed, many electrical and electronics engineering technicians begin working under the supervision of technicians, technologists, and scientists trained in the field. As they become more experienced in their field, they can either take on more challenging tasks or move up to become supervisors.
Employment and Job Outlook for Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians
497,300 jobs were held by engineering technicians. Of that number, 164,000 were electrical and electronics engineering technicians.
Out of 497,300 engineering technician jobs, 33 percent were electrical and electronics engineering technicians. Also from 497,300 engineering technician jobs, 25 percent worked in professional, scientific, or technical service industries while 34 percent worked in manufacturing. Most engineering technicians who worked in professional, scientific, and technical service industries worked with manufacturing firms or had contracts to work with the government. 35,500 engineering technicians worked for the Federal Government while 31,300 worked for local governments.
Thanks to foreign competition in design as well as increased efficiencies within the design process, the demand for electrical and electronics engineering technicians will be reduced, despite the demand for goods such as medical electronics and consumer products. Due to this demand reduction, the number of electrical and electronic engineering technician jobs is expected to decline 2 percent.
Though the number of electrical and electronic engineering technician jobs is expected to decline 2 percent, employment outlook also depends on industry, specialization and the employment of engineers whom electrical and electronic engineering technicians work closely with.
Since the overall employment for engineer technicians will increase 5 percent, more opportunities will be available for those who obtain an associates degree or postsecondary training in engineering technology.
Though many companies will improve manufacturing facilities and product designs, many will turn to automated machinery with increased efficiencies, affecting the job growth for engineering technicians. Another factor affecting job growth is the relocation of development operations overseas to reduce costs and speed up the completion process. This relocation affects engineers and especially affects electrical and electronics engineering technicians. Even with many companies relocating their development operations, many require on-site presence, especially those with environmental specialties.
Earnings and Salary for Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians
Median annual wages for electrical and electronics engineering technicians are $54,820. The middle 50 percent earn between $42,610 and $65,470. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $33,380, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $79,660.