What Is a Control Systems Technician?

Research what it takes to become a control systems technician. Learn about job duties, education and certification requirements and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Systems Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Control Systems Technician?

Control systems technicians install and maintain building control systems, such as air conditioning and heating, for business and homes. These professionals may work for a company or independently. As a control systems technician, you will have to be familiar with a variety of different control systems and be able to identify and fix common and complex problems. You may often work on heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems, so knowledge in those areas is necessary. As this career often involves interacting with people in their homes or places of work, having good people skills is a plus. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a control systems technician.

Education Required Associate's degree or certification
Education Field of Study Electronics, computer technology, mechanical systems, related fields
Key Responsibilities Install and maintain building control systems, meet customer safety standards, educate clients on how to use systems
Job Growth (2014-2024) 0% (for all electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment)*
Average Salary (2015) $56,670 (for all electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Control Systems Technician Do?

As a control systems technician, you'll be in charge of installing and maintaining building control systems. You could work exclusively on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or on other industrial control systems that operate in homes, businesses, plants and factories. You need to have extensive knowledge of a variety of digital and electrical systems, according to February 2011 job postings on Monster.com. Customer satisfaction is also high on the priority list for control systems technicians, so you'll need meet customer safety standards and educate clients on how to use the systems.

What Education Do I Need?

Most employers would prefer you to have some postsecondary education. Community colleges and technical schools offer associate's degree and certificate programs in electronics, computer technology, mechanical systems or related fields. Within certificate programs in computer and networking technology, you may learn how to diagnose, repair and maintain computers. Some schools may also accept credits earned in a certificate program to put towards an associate's degree program.

Associate's degree programs in electronics include hands-on courses dealing with integrated circuits, microprocessors, environmental issues and semiconductor electronics. You may also learn about different types of networks, including local area, wide area and the Internet. Mechanical systems associate's degree programs teach you how to install, test, operate and maintain basic mechanical structures. Courses may include material properties, computer-aided drafting and technical physics.

What Certification Options Do I Have?

You may pursue certification to demonstrate to employers your level of skill, and different options are available to you. The International Society of Automation (ISA) administers the Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) certification program (www.isa.org). Three distinct levels exists within the CCST designation. Level I requires five years of experience or education, Level II needs seven years and Level III requires 13 years. For each of the exams, you'll be tested on calibration, loop checking and troubleshooting, among other domains.

You could also consider the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA), which offers several basic electronics certifications, including associate electronics technician, student electronics technician and apprentice (www.eta-i-org). If you have no more than two years of combined work experience or formal training, you can take the ETA associate exam.

Another option is available through the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (www.iscet.org). You can choose among different designations, such as associate level electronics, electronics systems associate and journeyman. The associate level multiple-choice certification exam covers transistors, circuits and basic electronics.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of other related hands-on careers that require a similar educational background. If you have a particular interest in electricity, you may wish to consider a career as an electrician. These professionals also diagnose and solve problems, all revolving around electrical issues. You may also want to become a telecommunications equipment installer and repairer. This job entails setting up devices and technologies that can carry signals, like telephone lines and Internet connection devices. Electricians can find work without possessing a postsecondary degree, while telecommunications equipment installer and repairer positions typically require a postsecondary credential.

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