Electronic Communications Technologies

Electronic communications technology is a broad field of study that may lead to a job as an electrical engineering, broadcast or radio technician. Read on to learn more about job duties and outlook, earnings and educational requirements for electronics communications technologists.

Is Electronic Communications Technologies Right for Me?

Career Overview

The electronic communications technologies field employs a number of specialists across a range of industries. If working in one of these industries, you would apply your technical skills to the design, installation, maintenance and repair of multiple products in electronics manufacturing, transportation and broadcast technologies. You may also work in fields only tangentially related to electronics communications. For example, many health care providers rely on electronic communications technologies to connect doctors, nurses and patients and to improve overall patient care. The electronic communications technologies field combines electrical and electronics disciplines, and as a result, the breadth of the field offers many career opportunities.

Career Options

You can pursue work as an electrical engineering technician, instrumentation technician or as a broadcast technician. You can also work in the installation, repair and operations sector as a radio operator, radio mechanic or as a communications electronics technician.

Job Duties

Electrical engineering technicians perform a range of tasks, including the design, troubleshooting, testing and restoration of electronic components. Electrical and instrumentation technicians are responsible for servicing and installing various electrical components, including controllers and transformers. Broadcast technicians maintain the quality of video and audio transmissions during the broadcasting process by controlling electronic components, such as master control boards and signal devices. Radio operators manage communications for law enforcement, while broadcasters, ships and aircraft and radio mechanics maintain and repair telecommunications equipment.

Employment Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that electrical and electronics engineering technicians and installers will see minimal to no change in employment nationwide between 2012 and 2022. During the same 10-year period, radio cellular and tower equipment installers and repair workers can expect a 7%, or slower-than-average, growth in opportunities. Although broadcast technicians will see just a 3% increase in overall job growth, audio and video equipment technicians can look forward to a 14% increase in prospects through 2022 (www.bls.gov).

Salary Information

The BLS reported that, as of May 2013, electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $58,540, while electrical and electronics installers and repairers earned $52,830. During the same month, broadcast technicians and radio operators earned median annual salaries of $36,710 and $44,620, respectively. As of May 2013, radio, cellular, and tower equipment installers and repairs had median annual incomes of $46,260 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Electronic Communications Technologies?

Overview of Requirements

Training and education requirements for electronic communications technologists vary depending on the selected field, occupation and employer. Most employers prefer candidates with some formal training beyond high school or an associate's degree in a related discipline. You may also need an industry-related license or certification if you work in a federally regulated industry, such as the aviation or merchant marine sectors.

Educational Options

Colleges, universities and technical schools offer training programs that culminate in a certificate or an associate's or a bachelor's degree. Electronic communications courses and degree programs provide a foundation in the basics of electrical and electronic mechanisms for entry-level work as a technician. You can pursue an electronics technology associate's degree program, which includes topics in basic electricity, microprocessors, industrial controls and communications systems.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering provide a more focused education through coursework in advanced microprocessor design, analog electronics, control systems and signal processing. As a a qualified graduate, you may obtain a position as an electrical engineer, designing and developing new types of electronic devices. The Electronics Technician Association offers several certification options, including basic- and master-level certifications, which can lead to opportunities as a certified electronics technician.

Licensing Requirements

If you plan to work in the radio operations or maintenance field, you may need to acquire the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) commercial operator license. If you operate, maintain or repair radio communications equipment on ships, aircraft or at coast stations, you'll also need a valid license. The FCC requires that applicants successfully pass a written examination and a telegraphy examination, if applicable.

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