Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment.
Electrical engineering technicians typically do the following:
- Put together electrical and electronic systems and prototypes
- Build, calibrate, and repair electrical instruments or testing equipment
- Visit construction sites to observe conditions affecting design
- Identify solutions to technical design problems that arise during construction of electrical systems
- Inspect designs for quality control, report findings, and make recommendations
- Draw diagrams and write specifications to clarify design details of experimental electronics units
Electrical engineering technicians install and maintain electrical control systems and equipment and modify electrical prototypes, parts, and assemblies to correct problems. When testing systems they set up test equipment and evaluate the performance of developmental parts, assemblies, or systems under simulated conditions. They then analyze test information to resolve design-related problems.
Electronics engineering technicians typically do the following:
- Design basic circuitry and draft sketches to clarify details of design documentation, under engineers' direction
- Build prototypes from rough sketches or plans
- Assemble, test, and maintain circuitry or electronic components according to engineering instructions, technical manuals, and knowledge of electronics
- Adjust and replace defective circuitry and electronics components
- Make parts, such as coils and terminal boards, by using bench lathes, drills, or other machine tools
Electronics engineering technicians identify and resolve equipment malfunctions, working with manufacturers to get replacement parts. They also calibrate and perform preventative maintenance on equipment and systems.
These technicians often need to read blueprints, schematic drawings, and engineering instructions for putting together electronics units, as well as write reports and record data on testing techniques, laboratory equipment, and specifications.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians held about 146,500 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most electrical and electronic engineering technicians in 2012 were as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||13%|
|Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing||12|
|Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and
control instruments manufacturing
|Federal government, excluding postal service||6|
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians work closely with electrical and electronics engineers. For this reason, teamwork is an important part of the job. They work in offices, laboratories, and factories because their job tasks involve both engineering theory and assembly-line production.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians may be exposed to hazards from equipment or toxic materials, but incidents are rare if proper procedures are followed.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians work schedules common to production workers in the industries in which they are employed. In the federal government, their schedules tend to follow a standard workweek. In manufacturing industries and laboratories, these technicians most commonly work a standard workweek, except for particular periods when overtime might be required.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians typically need an associate’s degree.
Programs for electrical and electronics engineering technicians usually lead to an associate’s degree in electrical or electronics engineering technology. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary institutions that serve local students and emphasize training needed by local employers. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework.
Prospective electrical and electronics engineering technicians usually take courses in C++ programming, physics, microprocessors, and circuitry. The Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits programs that include at least college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science courses.
Logical-thinking skills. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians must isolate and then identify problems for the engineering staff to work on. They need good reasoning skills to identify and fix problems. Technicians must also be able to follow a logical sequence or specific set of rules to carry out engineers’ designs, inspect designs for quality control, and put together prototypes.
Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians use math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
Mechanical skills. Electronics engineering technicians in particular must be able to use handtools and soldering irons on small circuitry and electronic parts to create detailed electronic components by hand.
Observational skills. Electrical engineering technicians sometimes visit a construction site to make sure that electrical engineers’ designs are being carried out correctly. They are responsible for evaluating the project onsite and reporting problems to the engineer.
Problem-solving skills. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians create what engineers have designed and often test the designs to make sure that they work. Technicians help to resolve any problems that come up in carrying out the engineers’ designs.
Writing skills. These technicians must write reports on onsite construction, the results of testing, or problems they find when carrying out designs. Their writing must be clear and well organized so that the engineers they work with can understand the reports.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers certification in Electrical Power testing. This certification would benefit those technicians working in the electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industry.
The median annual wage for electrical and electronics engineering technicians was $57,850 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,560, and the top 10 percent earned more than $83,120.
In May 2012, the median annual wages for electrical and electronics engineering technicians in the top five industries in which these technicians worked were as follows:
|Federal government, excluding postal service||$75,690|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||56,610|
|Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and
control instruments manufacturing
|Semiconductor and other electronic
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians work schedules common to production workers in the industries in which they are employed. In the federal government, their schedules tend to follow a standard workweek.
Employment of electrical and electronics engineering technicians is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022.
Some of these technicians work in traditional manufacturing industries, many of which are declining or growing slowly. However, employment growth for electrical and electronics engineering technicians will likely occur in engineering services firms as companies seek to contract out these services as a way to lower costs.
They also work closely with electrical and electronics engineers and computer hardware engineers in the computer systems design services industry. Demand is expected to be high for technicians in this industry as computer and electronics systems become more integrated. For example, computer, cellular phone, and global positioning systems (GPS) technologies are being included in automobiles and various portable and household electronics systems.
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