Electronics or Computer Technology
When choosing between electronics technology, computer technology, and combined programs, prospective students should consider program curriculum and admissions information, as well as future career possibilities, in order to make an informed decision. Given the similarities between electronics technology and computer technologyprograms, some schools decide to join the topics to form one type of degree program that includes topics covered in both. While there are a number of similarities between electronics and computer technology programs, some difference become apparent when these programs are compared closely; most notably, which career paths graduates are prepared for, ranging from electronics technicians to software engineers. The strong influence of a program's curriculum over which career options would be available to graduates can be a deciding factor when prospective students decide which program to pursue.
Electronics Technology Programs
Electronics technology programs are typically available at the associate's degree level. Some programs are available in online formats, and it may be possible to transfer credits to a bachelor's degree in a related subject, such as electrical engineering or computer engineering, upon completion. The minimum admissions requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. In these programs, students learn how to perform many tasks, including how to install phones and alarm systems, fix washing machines, and troubleshoot computers. Hands-on exercises in areas such as soldering and machinery testing may also be involved.
Course topics in electronics technology include:
- Alternating current and direct current fundamentals
- Analog and digital electronics
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards
Computer Technology Programs
More commonly offered at both the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, computer technology programs prepare graduates for careers in computer and information technology. To enroll in either of these programs, it's necessary to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Course topics at the associate's degree level include:
- Data processing
- Modern computer systems
- Website administration
Additionally, associate's degrees in computer technology can prepare students for computing certifications through organizations like Microsoft and Cisco.
Bachelor's degree programs in computer technology often allow students to choose a concentration within the major, such as network security. Students also learn how computers are assembled.
Other course topics include:
- Operating systems
- Computer network installation and maintenance
- Data storage
- Computer science
Bachelor's degree programs may culminate in a final senior design project.
Combined Technology Programs
Available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, these programs focus on electronics technology as it applies to computers. These combined topics are relevant as industries lean more towards automated systems and rely on electronic data communication. Like the other undergraduate degree programs, a high school diploma or equivalent is necessary for enrollment.
The curriculum covers various topics, such as:
- Electronic systems
- Digital communications
Career options for graduates of associate's programs in electronics technology include electronics technician, field service technician, and manufacturing technician. These individuals may work with engineering experts to make calculations, operate instruments, and repair equipment. In May 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned a median salary of $62,190.
Graduates of computer technology programs at the associate's level can pursue careers in computer programming, computer networking, and web design. Many positions require a bachelor's degree, and possible career titles for bachelor's degree holders include database administrator, computer sales representative, software engineer, and computer network manager. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the median annual wage of network and computer systems administrators to be $79,700 based on May 2016 data.
While admissions requirements for undergraduate electronic and computer technology programs are similar, degree types and curriculum may differ between programs, resulting in varying career options.