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Become an Electronic Technologist: Salary, Duties and Outlook

Research the requirements to become an electronic technologist. Learn about the job description and duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career as an electronic technologist.

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Should I Become an Electronic Technologist?

'Electronic technologist' is not a commonly used job title. In many cases, an electronic technologist might also be called an electronic engineering technologist, a worker who assists engineers in the design process of electronic components and devices.

For employment and salary purposes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers this profession a subcategory of the engineering technician field. Engineering technicians were projected to experience no growth in employment from 2012-2022. They might work in offices, laboratories or manufacturing facilities, and their work schedule - working regular hours or shift work, possibly overnight - likely depends on where they are employed.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Electronics or a related discipline
Certification None required; voluntary certification is available from the Electronics Technicians Association
Experience 3-5 years of experience in a similar technical field
Key Skills Ability to think critically and solve complex problems; strong listening and speaking skills; proficiency in mathematics and a strong eye for detail in order to monitor/inspect equipment; familiarity with analytical and scientific software, spreadsheets and computer-aided design software; ability to use frequency and integrated circuit analyzers, signal generators, reflectometers and multimeters
Salary (2014) $60,330 (mean average for all electrical and electronics engineering technicians)

Sources: CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com job postings in October 2012, O*Net OnLine, Electronics Technicians Association, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Associate's degree programs relevant to this field are available in electronics, electronics technology and electronics engineering technology. A 2-year degree program in electronics engineering technology covers topics like basic electronics, AC and DC electricity, microcontrollers, electronics math and robotics. These programs incorporate both in-class instruction and laboratory work.

Success Tips:

  • Gain practical training. Some associate's degree programs offer internships. These internships allow students to network with other electronic engineering technologists and obtain hands-on experience working in the field. This experience may impress employers during job searches.
  • Join a student association. Some schools host student chapters of professional organizations, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Joining one of these programs may allow a student to participate in activities related to the field and take advantage of networking opportunities.

Step 2: Gain Experience

While formal education is mandatory for this career, employers of electronic engineering technologists also tend to require up to five years of experience in a related technical field. As such, these technologists might start out as electronic engineering technicians. An associate's degree related to electronics engineering can qualify one for this technician position, and no prior experience is required. Many of the job duties are similar to that of a technologist; however, technicians are lower-level workers who generally focus on repair and maintenance and do not assist in the design process.

Step 3: Earn Certification

While not mandatory, certification may help an individual demonstrate proficiency in electronic technology and spur advancement in the field. The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) offers the Associate Electronics Technician credential to individuals who have less than two years of work experience or approved electronics technology training and pass a certification exam. This credential expires after two years and is not renewable; instead, certified individuals must apply for the journeyman certification option, which is available in various specialty tracks, including communications and information technology.

Step 4: Consider Earning a Bachelor's Degree

An associate's may suffice for this career, but electronic engineering technologists having trouble advancing in the field may want to earn bachelor's degrees in electrical or electronic engineering technology. In fact, the BLS notes that these programs are specially geared toward this line of work, and individuals who already hold associate's degrees in the same major may find it easy to transfer into one of these 4-year programs.

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