|Job Options||Electronics Engineer||Electronics Engineering Technician||Electronics Service Technician|
|Required Education||B.S. Electronic Engineering||Associate's/Technical school certification||Installation/repair experience|
|Other Requirements||PE licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||-1%||-2%||-4%|
|Average Salary (2015)||$102,390||$61,870||$55,160|
Source *Bureau of Labor Statistics
Digital electronics professionals work with a variety of devices, such as calculators, cell phones, and kitchen appliances. These devices rely on binary systems, which use strings of 0 and 1 to transmit signals. The digital electronics field offers a variety of career opportunities that require different education levels. Let's look at three: digital electronics engineers, digital electronics engineering technicians, or digital electronics service technicians.
Digital Electronics Engineer
Digital electronic engineers design an assortment of electronic equipment, such as control systems, music players, and global positioning systems. They also develop these devices through testing and adding new components until they construct a satisfactory final product. Electronics engineers may also be responsible for assessing the devices' efficiency, safety, and cost. They typically work in offices and laboratories during design process; however, electronics engineers may visit factories to oversee production.
Digital electronics engineers generally enter the field with bachelor's degrees. Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering prepare students for the application and theory of engineering design in the electronics field. Courses may include circuit analysis, digital electronics, computer programming, process control, and logic design. Prospective digital electronics engineers should attend programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which establishes standards for engineering instruction.
Digital electronics engineers must obtain state-approved licensure through a licensing board, such as the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Specific requirements vary by state; however, candidates are generally required to hold a bachelor's degree from ABET-accredited degree program. The licensing process entails passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and completing four years of entry-level experience as an engineer interns (EI) or an engineer in training (EIT). Candidates can then take the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam to obtain licensure and serve as a Professional Engineer (PE).
Salary and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that electronics engineers would see a 1% decline in employment opportunities during the 2014-2024 decade. It reported that as of May 2015, the mean annual salary for electronics engineers was $102,390. This excluded those engineers who worked on computers.
Electronics Engineering Technician
Digital electronics engineering technicians assist in the design of digital electronics devices. This occupation focuses more on practical application than engineering theory to solve technical problems. These technicians help develop products through inspection and testing, adjusting components, and repairing parts during the design and manufacturing process. They typically work in laboratories and offices alongside engineers and scientists.
Employers generally prefer to hire digital electronics engineering technicians with at least an associate's degree. Offered at community colleges and technical schools, associate's degree programs in electronics engineering prepare students for entry-level positions in the field. Courses might include DC and AC circuitry, microprocessor systems, electronics devices, mechanical physics, and technical writing. The specific focuses of curricula vary according to institution type; technical schools tend to offer less general education and theory instruction than programs offered by community colleges.
Salary and Employment Outlook
Electronics and electrical engineering technicians could see a 2% decline in job opportunities from 2014-2024, the BLS noted. Their mean annual salary was $61,870 in May 2015 according to the BLS.
Electronics Service Technician
Digital electronics service technicians install and repair home entertainment equipment, such as DVD players, camcorders, and televisions. Some serve as bench technicians who work in repair shops repairing portable electronics that customers bring in. Others may be field technicians, who travel to customers' locations to install and repair larger equipment.
There are no strict formal education requirements for becoming a digital electronics service technician. Employers generally prefer applicants who are knowledgeable in electronics and experienced in repair. Along with problem-solving and technical skills, service technicians should have strong communication skills for the customer service aspect of the career. Entry-level digital electronics service technicians typically work under the supervision of skilled service technicians and, with experience, advance to positions of greater responsibility. Technicians may also prepare for this career by attending electronics service technology training programs at community colleges and vocational schools.
Salary and Employment Outlook
The BLS included digital electronics service technicians within the larger category of electronic installers and repairers. This group was expected to see 4% decline in employment during the 2014-2024 decade. The mean annual salary for electrical and electronics installers and repairers was $55,160 in May 2015, the BLS found.
In summary, the digital electronics field offers numerous jobs including digital electronics engineer, digital electronics engineering technician, or digital electronics service technician. The education required for these careers varies from a bachelor's degree for the former to no strict formal education for the latter.