Electrical technicians install and repair various types of electrical equipment. Most employers prefer to hire technicians who have taken at least some courses and have some training in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Completing courses in an online certificate or associate's degree program can also prepare electrical technicians to earn voluntary certification from organizations such as the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians.
Associate's degree programs can be found with fully online coursework, though some certificate programs may be in a hybrid format that includes a few on-campus courses. Some associate's degree programs require attendance at campus-based sessions for hands-on training and may require internships.
Electrical Technician Certificate
Students learn the fundamentals in electronics essential for entry-level employment. Topics of study include assembly, repair, installation, maintenance, testing, troubleshooting and upgrading electronic systems and equipment. Prerequisites for enrollment may include a high school diploma and experience in the field. Most certificate programs offer credits towards an associate's degree.
Program Information and Requirements
These programs take approximately three terms or 34-37 weeks to complete on a part-time basis. The courses use multimedia audio and video tools, lab simulations, CD-ROMs, the Internet and e-mail to conduct classes and to communicate with peers and faculty. Online electrical technician certificate program coursework may require some on-campus attendance due to practical hours required in the specialty.
Electrical technician certificate coursework includes introductory theory, vocabulary, laws and safety measures. Classes cover circuits, voltages, currents, instruments and other electrical basics necessary in the field.
Basic electronics fundamentals are introduced in this class, including scientific and engineering notation, units of measure and electric charges. Atomic structure, molecular principles, the history of electricity and the principle of electric charge are other areas of study.
Students learn how to apply Ohm's law in circuit configurations. The class also covers topics of resistance, voltage, power, troubleshooting and problem solving in circuits. Participants learn to calculate voltage and determine the total resistance in specific types of circuits and resistor networks.
Topics that are related to digital electronics like number systems, counters, flip flops and logic gates are explored. Students learn DeMorgan's theorem and Boolean algebra related to solving digital electronic problems. The class also covers math skills related to converting between binary, decimal and hexadecimal numbers.
Electrical Technician Associate's Degree
Online associate's degree curriculum focuses on career skills in electronic systems, computer programs, programming and networking. Graduates are awarded an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. Some schools require prerequisite coursework, high school transcripts and journeyman certification prior to consideration for entry.
Program Information and Requirements
Coursework for online associate's degree programs for electrical technicians is available online; however, apprenticeship requirements vary by program and state of practice. The programs consist of 50-60 credit hours of study, and they take approximately two years to complete. Some apprenticeship portions require as much as five additional years of on-the-job training.
Students access classes via the Internet and personal computer. Some schools have a specific student portal and offer online learning sessions to train their participants on their systems.
Students learn about residential and commercial wiring during the course of their studies. They learn about blueprints, code requirements and specifications along with electrical theory and layout.
Programming Concepts and Controllers
This class covers basic programming and relay logic, operation theory and applications, control structures, systems programming, applications and modularization. Students learn to apply ladder diagrams and other techniques in programmable controllers and apply programming concepts to solve problems.
This course introduces the application of mathematics in the electronics field. Basic concepts and graphs of functions, linear and quadratic equations, algebra, trigonometry, vectors, mathematical circuits and voting systems are some mathematical topics of study.
Electronic Software and Computer Applications
Students are provided with an overview of electronic computer operations, applications, operating systems, hardware, software and information processing. The class also teaches skills in common word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, Web design and Internet applications.
Knowledge of electrical systems is necessary for employment in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A high-school diploma may be sufficient to work under the supervision of an experienced electrician or technician; however, workers must develop their electronic knowledge and skills to work independently. Growth in the field varies by specialty, but in 2015, employment for electrical and electronics repairers and installers was expected to decline by 4% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
Electrical and electronics repairers and installers of transportation equipment earned a median annual wage of $58,990 in 2015, according to the BLS. In that same year, the electrical repairers of commercial and industrial equipment made a median annual wage of $55,690.
Continuing Education Information
For those wishing to pursue further education in the electrical technician concentration, bachelor's degree programs are available online in electrical engineering. Most schools offer transferable college credits for classes taken in their certificate or associate's degree electrical technician program.
The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) and the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians both offer certification in several specialties for those who meet requirements and pass an examination.
If a student hopes to become an electrical technician as quickly as possible, pursuing a certificate program online may be their best option. However, online associate's degrees are also available, which will give students more in-depth knowledge and job readiness, as well as allow them the option of pursuing a bachelor's degree in a field like electrical engineering.