Control technicians work with the controls behind electronic equipment. They monitor and assess control systems and carry out repairs under intense pressure to ensure there is no halt in a production process. A control technician can gain experience in this field by completing an associate's degree program.
As automation and robotics are increasingly used in manufacturing processes, the industry has developed a need for technicians who can install and fix the programmable logic controllers and other devices that operate automated equipment. These control technicians can learn their craft on the job, but they are increasingly earning associate's degrees in automation technology.
|Required Education||certificate or associate's degree in automation technology|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*|| -4% for electrical and electronics installers and repairers
1% for electro-mechanical technicians
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*|| $55,690 for electrical and electronics repairers
$53,340 for electro-mechanical technicians
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for a Control Technician
Control technicians - sometimes called automation technicians, instrumentation technicians or robotics technicians - monitor and ensure the functioning of computerized electronic control devices that operate production equipment. When those controls fail, the control technician troubleshoots and fixes the problems.
Control technician duties involve monitoring control systems on automated equipment. For example, a control technician may be in charge of all the controls that run an automated food-processing line. They may also use software or electrical tools to test the controls to ensure they're functioning according to specifications. If the controllers fail, they diagnose the problems as fast as they can to keep production lines moving.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for electro-mechanical technicians, who perform similar job duties as control technicians, is expected to increase 1% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). This is considered much slower than the national average of 7%. Job seekers who have training or experience in mechatronics (computer, control, electronic and mechanical systems) are likely to have better opportunities.
While the BLS does not isolate income statistics for control technicians, it does publish salary information for categories of jobs that include control technicians. These categories include electrical and electronics repairers of commercial and industrial equipment, for whom the median annual wage in May 2015 was $55,690, and electro-mechanical technicians, whose 2015 median annual salary was $53,340.
Education for a Control Technician
Many technical schools and community colleges offer educational programs that provide the knowledge and skills that a control technician needs through an associate's degree program in automation technology. These 2-year programs generally teach the basics of electronics and electricity, computer science, robotics, fluid power and mechanical systems as they apply to automated controls. Some schools offer 1-year certificate programs that cover only one specific area of automation technology, such as hydraulic and pneumatic technology, machine tool technology or electrical automation technology.
Continuing education for control technicians is provided by equipment manufacturers, who offer training and certification for specific pieces of equipment. Control technicians may also look to industry trade associations for supplemental training.
Control technicians ensure that automated production processes run smoothly and without technical issues. Associate's degree and certificate programs in automation technology are easy to find at technical schools and are the best foundation for this kind of work. Technicians can receive additional training from trade associations.