Electrical Engineering Technician
An electrical engineering technician could...
|Build a prototype of a new portable audio player so it can be tested and modified.||Wire and set up test equipment at power plants.|
|Help conduct failure-analysis tests on electronics returned to stores by customers.||Assist an engineer in developing a new electric toothbrush.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Electrical engineering technicians help design, test, and manufacture electrical and electronic equipment. These people are part of the team of engineers and research scientists that keep our high-tech world going and moving forward.|
|Key Requirements||Excellent writing and verbal expression skills, must work well in teams, show attention to detail, have strong reasoning skills and the ability to draw conclusions from data|
|Minimum Degree||Associate's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, English; if available: applied technology, computer science|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||Little or No Change (-2% to 2%)|
|Interview||Read this interview with Keith Martin, Chief Electronics Technician on the crew of the Nancy Foster vessel.|
Training, Other Qualifications
Most electrical engineering technicians enter the occupation with an associate's degree in electrical engineering technology. Training is available at technical institutes, community colleges, extension divisions of colleges and universities, public and private vocational-technical schools, and in the Armed Forces. Because the type and quality of training programs vary considerably, prospective students should carefully investigate training programs before enrolling.
Other training in technical areas may be obtained in the Armed Forces. Many military technical training programs are highly regarded by employers. However, skills acquired in military programs are often narrowly focused and may be of limited applicability in civilian industry, which often requires broader training. Therefore, some additional training may be needed, depending on the acquired skills and the kind of job.
Although employers usually do not require electrical engineering technicians to be certified, such certification may provide jobseekers a competitive advantage. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies has established voluntary certification programs for several engineering technology specialties. Certification is available at various levels, each level combining a written examination in a specialty with a certain amount of job-related experience, a supervisory evaluation, and a recommendation.
Electrical engineering technicians usually begin by performing routine duties under the close supervision of an experienced electrical engineering technician, electrical engineering technologist, electrical engineer, or scientist. As they gain experience, they are given more difficult assignments with only general supervision. Some electrical engineering technicians eventually become supervisors.
Education and Training
The minimum degree required is an associate's degree in electrical engineering technology. Although it may be possible to qualify for certain engineering technician jobs without formal training, most employers prefer to hire someone with at least a 2-year associate's degree in electrical engineering technology. People with college courses in science, engineering, and mathematics may qualify for some positions, but may need additional specialized training and experience. Prospective electrical engineering technicians should take as many high school science and math courses as possible to prepare for programs in electrical engineering technology after high school.
Because many electrical engineering technicians assist in design work, creativity is desirable. Good communication skills and the ability to work well with others also are important as electrical engineering technicians are typically part of a team of electrical engineers and other technicians.
Nature of the Work
This video depicts the kinds of projects on which electrical engineering technicians work, and the various work environments. Electrical engineering technicians help to research and manufacture all kinds of electrical devices.
Electrical engineering technicians use the principles and theories of science, engineering, and mathematics to solve technical problems in research and development, manufacturing, sales, construction, inspection, and maintenance. Their work is more narrowly focused and application-oriented than that of scientists and engineers. Many electrical engineering technicians assist engineers and scientists, especially in research and development. Others work in quality control, inspecting products and processes, conducting tests, or collecting data. In manufacturing, they may assist in product design, development, or production.
Electrical engineering technicians who work in research and development build or set up equipment; prepare and conduct experiments; collect data; calculate or record results; and help engineers or scientists in other ways, such as making prototype versions of newly designed equipment. They assist in design work, often using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) equipment. Electrical engineering technicians help to design, develop, test, and manufacture electrical and electronic equipment such as communication equipment; radar, industrial, and medical monitoring or control devices; navigational equipment; and computers. They may work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment.
Most electrical engineering technicians work 40 hours a week in laboratories, offices, manufacturing or industrial plants, or on construction sites. Some may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials.
On the Job
- Provide technical assistance and resolution when electrical or engineering problems are encountered before, during, and after construction.
- Assemble electrical and electronic systems and prototypes according to engineering data and knowledge of electrical principles, using hand tools and measuring instruments.
- Install and maintain electrical control systems and solid state equipment.
- Modify electrical prototypes, parts, assemblies, and systems to correct functional deviations.
- Set up and operate test equipment to evaluate performance of developmental parts, assemblies, or systems under simulated operating conditions, and record results.
- Collaborate with electrical engineers and other personnel to identify, define, and solve developmental problems.
- Build, calibrate, maintain, troubleshoot and repair electrical instruments or testing equipment.
- Analyze and interpret test information to resolve design-related problems.
- Write commissioning procedures for electrical installations.
- Prepare project cost and work-time estimates.
- Evaluate engineering proposals, shop drawings and design comments for sound electrical engineering practice and conformance with established safety and design criteria, and recommend approval or disapproval.
- Draw or modify diagrams and write engineering specifications to clarify design details and functional criteria of experimental electronics units.
- Conduct inspections for quality control and assurance programs, reporting findings and recommendations.
- Prepare contracts and initiate, review and coordinate modifications to contract specifications and plans throughout the construction process.
- Plan, schedule and monitor work of support personnel to assist supervisor.
- Review existing electrical engineering criteria to identify necessary revisions, deletions or amendments to outdated material.
- Perform supervisory duties such as recommending work assignments, approving leaves and completing performance evaluations.
- Plan method and sequence of operations for developing and testing experimental electronic and electrical equipment.
- Visit construction sites to observe conditions impacting design and to identify solutions to technical design problems involving electrical systems equipment that arise during construction.
Companies That Hire Electrical Engineering Technicians
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
- Avoid the Shock of Shocks! Build Your Own Super-sensitive Electric Field Detector
- Build a Reed Switch Motor
- Build Your Own Crystal Radio
- Color Mixing with Red, Green, & Blue LEDs
- Dance Mania: Build Your Own Dance Pad!
- Effect of Different Materials on a Magnetic Field
- How Does LED Brightness Vary with Current?
- How Long Does It Take to Fry a Diode?
- Is this connected to that? Use a homemade electronic tester to find out if electricity can flow between two objects.
- Linear vs. Logarithmic Changes: What Works Best for Human Senses?
- Magnets and Charge
- Make Your Own Low-Power AM Radio Transmitter
- Mapping Magnetic Fields
- Measure Your Magnetism
- Pencil Resistors
- Recording on a Wire
- Rock On! Recording Digital Data with Magnets
- Sliding Light: How to Make a Dimmer Switch
- Spin Right 'Round with this Simple Electric Motor
- Spinning Your Wheels: Pinwheel Sensitivity
Do you have a specific question about a career in Electricity & Electronics that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- BLS. (2009). Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), 2008-09 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/
- O*Net Online. (2009). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://online.onetcenter.org/
- South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. (2007, June 9). Careers at Sea. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://www.safmc.net/HabitatManagement/DeepwaterCorals/LopheliaCommunities/ExpeditionsandExplorers/GraysReefandSAFMCAssessmentCruise/InterviewwithTechnicians/tabid/520/Default.aspx
- Careers.org. (2009). Career Occupational Profile For: Electrical Engineering Technicians. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://occupations.careers.org/17-3023.03/electrical-engineering-technicians
We'd like to acknowledge the additional support of:
- Motorola Solutions