When choosing between online programs, aspiring electronics technicians need to consider their academic interests and career objectives.
Students who are interested in electronics can find online certificates and diploma programs that provide basic education in the field, as well as relevant standalone courses. There are also online associate's and bachelor's degree programs available in electronics-related subjects. Specific majors include:
- Electronics technology
- Electronic and computer technology
- Electronic engineering technology
Standalone courses, certificates and diplomas may be more appropriate for aspiring electronics repairers and installers, since they require no formal postsecondary education, although it may help improve job prospects. Degree programs are necessary for those who want to work in the field of electronics engineering technology, since an associate's degree is the minimum educational requirement.
There are a few schools that offer online programs in electronics engineering technology. ABET accredits engineering and engineering technology programs. As of April 2017, the following institutions offered ABET-accredited, online electronics engineering technology programs, each leading to a Bachelor of Science degree:
- Excelsior College
- Grantham University
- Thomas Edison State University
Courses that train students in electronics will often include hands-on work, so students may want to seek out a program that offers technical assistance in the evenings and on weekends, depending on their schedules. Along with general education classes, typical subjects covered in a 2-year associate's degree program include the following:
- AC and DC circuits
- Networking and routing
- Circuit boards
- Digital systems and components
- Software and hardware
- Sensors and transformers
The virtual classroom for an electronics technician program will typically consist of the following components:
- Course materials
- Videos and demonstrations
- Lectures presented online
- Chat rooms for communication with professors and other students
Group projects are sometimes included in the requirements, so students should expect to interact with peers via virtual discussion platforms. Hands-on work and experiments will be done at home, possibly with the help of kits or other equipment. Access to online library resources and academic and career advice are also possible, and some schools allow students to take exams at any time of day.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electronic and electrical engineering technicians together held 139,400 jobs as of 2014. The BLS projects a 2% decrease in projected employment from 2014-2024.
Since job openings may be scarce in this field, choose an online training program carefully with an eye toward qualifying for certification by groups such as the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) and the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA). Both organizations offer certification for individuals who gained electronics knowledge through experience or through coursework, and an earned degree is not a requirement or prerequisite for certification. Both groups offer study materials for certification exams online.
There are several different online educational options or electronics technicians. Prospective students can choose between certificate, diploma and degree programs, as well as standalone courses that can help prepare them for a career in the field.