Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Duties

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Because automated electronic control systems are becoming more complex, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters—which measure voltage, current, and resistance—and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers often use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

The following are examples of types of electrical and electronics installers and repairers:

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays. These workers also may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairerssuch as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers—specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. These installers and repairers work with a range of complex electronic equipment, including digital audio and video players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers may also specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or a customer’s site to repair broken down equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers in factories usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on a factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.

Work Environment: 

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers held about 144,700 jobs in 2012. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up this group was distributed as follows: 

Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment 69,000
Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay 24,500
Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers 20,700
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment 15,900
Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles 14,600

Many electrical and electronics installers and repairers work in factories, which can be noisy and sometimes warm. Bench technicians work primarily in repair shops, which are quiet and well lit. Motor vehicle electronic equipment installers and repairers normally work in repair shops.

Installers and repairers may have to lift heavy equipment and work in awkward positions.

Injuries and Illnesses

Electric motor, power tools, and related repairers and electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

As a result, workers must follow safety guidelines and wear protective goggles and hardhats. When working on ladders or on elevated equipment, repairers must wear harnesses to avoid falls.

Before repairing a piece of machinery, workers must follow procedures to ensure that others cannot start the equipment during the repair process. They must also take precautions against electric shock by locking off power to the unit under repair.

Work Schedules

Nearly all electrical and electronics installers and repairers work full time.

Education and Training: 

Most electrical and electronics installers and repairers obtain specialized training at a technical college. Gaining voluntary certification is common and can be useful in getting a job.

Education

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers must understand electrical equipment and electronics. As a result, employers often prefer applicants who have taken courses in electronics at a community college or technical school.

Training

In addition to technical education, workers usually receive training on specific types of equipment. This may entail manufacturer-specific training in order for repairers to perform warranty work.

Entry-level repairers usually begin by working with experienced technicians, who provide technical guidance, and work independently after developing their skills.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Various organizations offer certification. For example, the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) offers more than 50 certification programs in numerous electronics specialties for various levels of competence. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) also offers certification for several levels of competence. The ISCET focuses on a broad range of topics, including basic electronics, electronic systems, and appliance service. To become certified, applicants must meet prerequisites and pass a comprehensive exam.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Workers need to identify the color-coded components that are often used in electronic equipment.

Communication skills. Field technicians work closely with customers, so they must listen to and understand customers’ problems and explain solutions in a simple, clear manner.

Technical skills. Workers use a variety of mechanical and diagnostic tools to install or repair equipment.

Troubleshooting skills. Electrical equipment and systems often involve intricate parts. Workers must be able to identify malfunctions and make the necessary repairs.

Pay: 

The median annual wage for electrical and electronics installers and repairers was $51,220 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 $28,240, and the top 10 percent earned more than $75,740.

Median annual wages for electrical and electronics installers and repairers in May 2012 were as follows:  

  • $68,810 for electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay
  • $52,650 for electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment
  • $51,240 for electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment
  • $36,240 for electric motor, power tool, and related repairers
  • $31,340 for electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles

Nearly all electrical and electronics installers and repairers work full time.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, electrical and electronics installers and repairers had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012.

Job Outlook: 

Overall employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Growth rates will vary by specialty.

Employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers of commercial and industrial equipment is projected to grow 3 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. As competition increases, businesses strive to lower costs by increasing and improving automation. Equipment that needs service and repair would generally increase the demand for electrical workers, but improved reliability of equipment is expected to temper employment growth.

Employment of motor vehicle electronic equipment installers and repairers is projected to decline 6 percent from 2012 to 2022. As motor vehicle manufacturers install more and better sound, security, entertainment, and navigation systems in new vehicles, and as newer electronic systems require progressively less maintenance, few aftermarket installers will be needed.

Employment of electric motor, power tool, and related repairers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2012 to 2022. Improvements in electrical and electronic equipment design, as well as the increased use of disposable tool parts, will result in declining employment.

Employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Declining employment in the rail transportation industry—the largest employing segment of these specialists—will dampen employment growth. 

Employment of powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics installers and repairers is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Although the installation of new, energy-efficient technologies will likely spur demand for workers, privatization in the utilities industries should improve productivity and offset any employment gains.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities should be excellent for qualified workers with an associate’s degree in electronics along with certification.

For More Information: 

For information about electrical and electronics installers and repairers, including careers and certification, visit

Electronics Technicians Association International

International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

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