SMT Operator Schools: Courses and Training Program Information

An aspiring surface mount technology (SMT) operator can choose between 2-year and 4-year schools for training in the profession. Targeted training courses or certification may be required for surface mount technicians.

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Some employers accept SMT operators with no more than high school diplomas and some experience, but some request college degrees or certificates in electronics engineering technology or similar fields. Many community colleges offer associate's degrees, and more advanced degrees can be found at the university level.

Schools with Electronics Engineering Programs

The below schools offer electronics engineering programs at various degree levels:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees, Undergraduate (2015-2016)*
Miami Dade College Miami, FL 4-year, Public Associate's In-state: $2,834 Out-of-state: $9,661
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state: $10,176 Out-of-state: $28,768
Danville Community College Danville, VA 2-year, Public Diploma, Certificate In-state: $4,365 Out-of-state: $10,203
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV 4-year, Public Associate's In-state: $2,805 Out-of-state: $9,450
Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ 2-year, Public Associate's In-state: $2,046 Out-of-state: $7,830
Durham Technical Community College Durham, NC 2-year, Public Associate's In-state: $1,840 Out-of-state: $6,388
Portland Community College Portland, OR 2-year, Public Associate's In-state: $3,766 Out-of-state: $8,374
Clackamas Community College Oregon City, OR 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state: $4,268 Out-of-state: $11,918

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Surface mount technicians need to judge whether soldering work meets acceptable quality standards. Students interested in finding SMT training or certification should consider the following:

  • Education level requirements range from high school diploma to college degree, so it is helpful to research the job market to learn what specific education employers require.
  • Find out what the school offers in the way of SMT certification programs.
  • Students should consider what facilities are made available by a prospective school for hands-on training.
  • Students should research a prospective school's reputation and its faculty's background.

Training and Certification

Two certifications are commonly requested by employers of surface mount technology operators. IPC-610 is from IPC, the Association Connecting Electronics Industries, and NASA-STD-8739.2 is from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

IPC-610 Training

IPC-A-610 certification may be incorporated into an electronics technician program. This certification could also be available from a private corporation, or it may become part of on-the-job training. It teaches the criteria for soldering connections and the requirements for attaching computer chips with a surface mount. Assembly of jumper wires and mounting of other components are also included. An optional unit qualifies the student to train others.

NASA-STD-8739.2 Training

The NASA 8739.2 certification program addresses surface mount technology as it applies to spaceflight hardware. Students work with a PWA (printed wiring assembly). The training course is offered periodically by the Western Region Manufacturing Technology Transfer Center in Pasadena and held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A vision test, including far, near and color vision, is a prerequisite for the course. Initial SMT certification takes five days. Recertification, required every two years to maintain certification, takes two days.

Aspiring SMT operators can pursue certification at various educational levels, depending on an employer's requirements. Programs can be found as certificates and diplomas, as well as associate's and bachelor's degrees.

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