Certified Electronics Technician: Education and Career Information

Explore the career requirements for certified electronics technicians. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Appliance Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Electronics Technician?

An electrical wall socket burns out. Someone needs a ceiling fan fixed or replaced. A car's navigation system malfunctions. In all cases, a call goes out to a repair person known as an electronics technician. Electronics technicians maintain, troubleshoot and fix electrical devices. They work in various industries, such as transportation, communication, and energy, each of which requires specialized training. Workers fall into two categories: field technicians and bench technicians. Field techs travel to equipment they must repair. Bench techs work from shops, with clients bringing damaged products for repair services. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Specialized courses at a technical college
Key Responsibilities Install, maintain, and repair electronic devices
Troubleshoot and identify defects
Consult with both manufacturers and clients
Certification Certification may be required and improves prospects
Training Required On-the-job training
Job Outlook (2014-2024) -4% (electrical and electronics installers and repairers)*
Median Salary (2015) $55,160 (electrical and electronics installers and repairers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Do Certified Electronics Technicians Do?

Your primary duties as a CET involve the installation, maintenance and repair of electronic devices. Consulting technical manuals and wiring diagrams, assembling components, calibrating devices and conducting functionality tests are some of the tasks you may perform during a new installation. Maintenance can entail clearing away dust and debris, lubricating moving parts and adjusting the placement of devices. Troubleshooting and identifying defects, obtaining new parts and replacing worn out parts are among your likely repair duties. Your work will often require direct consultation with manufacturers about product specifications and with users about performance and reliability issues.

What Are My Job Prospects?

As a CET, you may work for the electrical power industry, or you may install and repair electric motors and power tools, commercial and industrial equipment, motor vehicle equipment or transportation equipment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these sectors collectively employed 136,100 electrical and electronics installers and repairers (which includes CETs) in 2014, and were projected to employ 130,700 by 2024 (www.bls.gov).

The BLS predicted that employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers will drop by -4% from 2014-2024. Growth rates varied by sector. Individuals employed in the powerhouse, substation, and relay power sector were expected to see a drop in employment rates during the 2014-2024 decade, while those working with commercial or industrial equipment were expected to see little to no growth during the same period. Median salaries also varied from sector to sector. In 2015, those who worked in the powerhouse, substation, and relay power sector earned a median salary of $73,810 while those who worked for the motor vehicle industry earned a median salary of $31,360.

What Education Would I Need?

Although some employers will hire you if you have only a high school diploma or GED, most prefer that you have at least an associate's degree in electrical technology or electronics technology. Practical experience with electronics acquired through an internship or apprenticeship is also helpful.

Associate's degree programs in electrical and electronics technology provide training in electronics theory, as well as the design and construction of electronic circuits. Though a combination of classroom and lab courses, you'll learn to build devices using schematic diagrams and other sources of technical information. You'll also learn how to analyze circuit performance and troubleshoot problems. Possible course topics include AC and DC circuits, analog and digital circuits, programmable controllers and technical math.

What Certifications Are Available?

Though not always required, the Electronics Technician Association (ETA) and the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) are two of the more prominent organizations that offer certifications. Each provides multiple certification options for technicians with various levels of education and experience.

Your options with the ETA include the Student Electronics Technician (SET), the Associate Electronics Technician (CETa) and a wide array of journeymen titles. The SET is a beginner's certification for high school students and technicians with minimal training. The CETa, which is for technicians who have completed a trade school program or have less than two years of experience, is required before earning a journeyman certification and may not be renewed. Journeyman certifications are available for those who work with biomedical technology, communications equipment, computers and more.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Positions involving technical repair and requiring similar vocational education include aviation techs and sound engineer technicians. Aviation techs troubleshoot electrical and mechanical issues with aircraft, while sound engineer technicians specialize in the advanced sound equipment used by radio stations and at concerts. Other related jobs include installers of elevators, general maintenance techs, or repair technicians; all use technical skills to install and repair on-site and require a high school diploma and some specialized training. If interested in pursuing more advanced education, individuals can become licensed electricians or telecommunication installers and repairmen.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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