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Certified Electrical Technologist: Certification & Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a certified electrical technologist. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in electrical technology. View article »

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Certified Electrical Technologists

Electrical engineering technologists work under the direction of professional engineers and apply engineering concepts towards the design, testing and production of electrical components and systems. The duties of a technician and technologist are similar and focus on the practical application of an engineer's theoretical design. They might work with industrial and consumer electronic products and systems, telecommunication systems, communication devices and/or automated manufacturing systems.

Electrical technologists or technicians might work in laboratories, offices or factories. They usually work typical 8-hour days, but if they work in a factory or other manufacturing facility, they might be called on to work late or overnight shifts. They might also be exposed to hazardous fumes or materials, depending on the type of manufacturing equipment they work on, but following safety procedures can usually avoid most accidents.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree is standard
Degree Field(s) Electrical engineering technology or related field
Certification Voluntary certification is available
Experience 5+ years is standard
Key Skills Deductive-reasoning abilities, problem-solving abilities, monitoring skills, writing skills, math skills, and manual dexterity; familiarity with scientific analysis software, CAD software, development environment software, object- or component-oriented software, and Linux/Unix operating systems software; knowledge of laboratory mechanical convection ovens, multimeters, power meters, signal generators, and voltage meters
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $61,130 (for electrical and electronics engineering technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*, O*Net OnLine, employer job postings (December 2012), National Institute for Certification in Engineering

Electrical engineering technologists need bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering technology or related fields. They are expected to have deductive-reasoning and problem-solving abilities, along with monitoring, writing, mathematical and manual dexterity skills. They must be familiar with scientific analysis software, CAD software, development environment software, object- or component-oriented software and Linux/Unix operating systems software. They must also know about laboratory mechanical convection ovens, multimeters, power meters, signal generators and voltage meters. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for electrical and electronics engineering technicians, which includes certified electrical technologists, was $61,130 in 2015.

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Steps for Electrical Technologists

What steps should I take to be a certified electrical technologist?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Accredited bachelor's degree programs in electrical engineering technology can be found through the Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. Many bachelor's degree programs in electrical engineering technology lead to a Bachelor of Science degree and take around 4 years to complete. These types of programs are similar in content, scope and duration to electrical engineering bachelor's programs. However, technology programs might have more options for transfer or degree completion. Some programs confer an associate degree after the first 2 years of study, and students go on to earn the bachelor's degree after completing the last 2 years of the program. In addition, programs may offer flexible course schedules to accommodate working students.

You will want to gain work experience. One way to build on the experience typically required for most certified electrical engineering technologist positions is to work while enrolled in a bachelor's program. For example, programs with a flexible format or those that award degrees prior to program completion might qualify a student for entry-level positions in the field while still in school.

You will also want to work on your communication skills. Since engineering technologists frequently work in teams, good communication skills are very important. This is also a quality many employers strongly desire. An aspiring electrical technologist might consider taking elective courses that develop these skills, such as writing, negotiation or public speaking courses.

Step 2: Acquire the Work Experience You Need

Most certified technologist positions require a candidate to have around 5 years of related experience in the field. Students can establish themselves professionally by working in the field of electrical engineering to get the experience employers seek. They might work in related positions as technicians, repairers or installers.

Step 3: Earn Certification

An individual can earn certification from professional organizations in order to improve career prospects by demonstrating dedication to the field and job competency. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers certification for technologists at 4 levels. In order to qualify for various certifications, an individual needs to have a minimum number of years of practical work experience, ranging from 6 months to 10 years, and supervisor verification of performance. Professional recommendations and verification are also required for higher levels of certification. Voluntary certifications are available from other professional organizations, such as the Electronic Technicians Association and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, for various related areas and industries.

Step 4: Consider an Advanced Degree

Technologists who want to advance their careers in the field often need to earn a bachelor's or master's degree in engineering. These programs prepare graduates for work as engineers.

Electrical engineering technologists apply engineering concepts toward the design, testing and production of electrical components and systems. They have college degrees, deductive reasoning and problem-solving abilities, along with a professional knowledge of relevant software and equipment and they earn a median annual salary of $61,130.

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