Training programs in electronic communication technologies are commonly available as certificate, associate and bachelor's degree programs. Certificate programs take a year to 18 months to complete and prepare students for entry-level employment in the radio, television and telephone industries. Students learn to build, install and repair communications equipment through courses that cover topics including electrical codes, microprocessors and computer networking. Associate's degree programs, which require two years of study, cover most of the same topics, with the addition of general education courses. Bachelor's degree programs in this field may take five years to complete; some programs require that students hold an associate's degree in a relevant field, while others will accept high school graduates with strong backgrounds in chemistry and physics.
- Program Levels: Certificate, associate's, bachelor's.
- Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED.
- Online Availability: Commonly available online.
- Program Length: Certificates take up to 18 months to complete, associate's degrees take two years and bachelor's degrees take between four and five years.
Certificate in Electronics Technology
Certificate programs are designed both for professionals brushing up their skills, as well as high school graduates interested in training for a career as a field service engineer. Students prepare for entry-level jobs in electronic communication technology by studying basic electrical theory and equipment maintenance for the telephone, radio and television industries. Accelerated certificates take as little as one year to complete, while longer certificate programs take up to 18 months.
Students in certificate programs prepare for construction, repair and installation jobs by learning about circuitry and networking for everything from radios to cell phone towers. Coursework includes:
- Computer aided design and drafting
- Computer networking
- Electrical codes
- Technical writing
Associate Degree in Electronic Technology
Similar to the certificate in electronics technology, associate degree programs in electronic technology cover technical subjects as well as general education. Students prepare for positions in electromagnetic communication technology by learning about wiring, testing equipment and electrical codes. General electronic technology associate degrees can prepare graduates to work in jobs such as telecommunications field service engineers and research and development specialists.
Since the early days of telecommunications, with the invention of the telegraph, electrical technologists have been repairing communications equipment. In the modern era, prospective technologists also are tasked with programming automated machines and troubleshooting electronic systems. Specific courses may include:
- Electronic communications
- High definition digital television
- Computer Aided Design
- Data communications
- Electronic testing
Bachelor's Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology
A bachelor's degree program in electronic technology or electronic engineering technology with an electronic communications track covers the lifespan of an electronic device, from design and development to repair. Students learn to test and troubleshoot electronic equipment through hands-on experiences and laboratory work. Prospective students in these programs are expected to have completed an associate program in engineering technology or be a high school graduate with a background in physics and chemistry.
Students in bachelor's degree programs are able to focus studies in everything from communications to microprocessors to digital signal processing. Commonly offered courses include:
- A.C. and D.C. circuits
- Digital signal processing
- Analog and digital communications systems
- Computer programming
- Industrial electronics
Popular Career Options
Graduates from certificate programs find work as systems technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 80, 060 electrical and electronics installers and repairers employed across several fields, as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Among these, workers were employed in the following jobs:
- Computer network specialist
- Instrument manufacturer
- Electrical contractor
- Electronics equipment salesperson
- Equipment maintenance tech
Electronic communication technology professionals work in the architectural engineering, semiconductor, navigational and control instruments manufacturing industries, as well as for the federal government. Among these, graduates of electronics communications and electronic engineering technology programs may find work as a:
- Computer network specialist
- Satellite Applications Specialist
- Engineering assistant
- Electronic communication specialist
- Telecommunications Technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects little to no change in job growth for electrical and electronics installers and repairers in the decade of 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Within the field, salary may vary somewhat between subspecialties. For instance, according to the BLS as of May 2014, electrical and electronics installers and repairers working on transportation equipment earn a median of $56,000 annually, those working on commercial and industrial equipment earn $54,640, and electrical power-line installers and repairers bring in a median of $65,930 per year.