Career and Job Highlights for Electronic Technicians
Electronic Technician Career Overview
Many organizations, especially businesses, have a dependence on complicated electronic equipment for array of functions. The production processes in factories are automated by industrial controls, which can track and regulate production. Communication is facilitated via transmitters and antennae, which offer links of communication for lots of organizations. Electronic equipment is utilized by power companies use in order to direct and manage generating plants, substations, and monitoring equipment. Even the Federal Government, via its national defense program, utilizes complex radar and missile control systems to help supply procure national defense, as well as regulating commercial air traffic. Electrical and electronic installers and repairers help by installing and maintaining these complicated systems of electronic equipment.
There are two different types of industrial equipment, electrical equipment and electronic equipment, though it is important to note that a lot of equipment has both electrical and electronic parts. Generally speaking, electrical sectors are the source of power for the equipment, while the electronic portion actually controls the machine, although there are still several types of equipment that electrical devices control. In order to furnish feedback to the programmable logic control (PLC), which directs the equipment, electronic sensors track the status of the equipment and the manufacturing process. The electronic sensors provide information to the PLC, which in turn processes this information and then institutes the necessary changes in order reach the optimal output. The PLC can change the output by sending signals to the electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic components which provide power to the machine, effectively adjusting feed rates, pressures, and the remaining variables involved in manufacturing. Field technicians, those who do installations and repairs, visit the factories to make repairs on the machines. Typically, these workers are allotted designated areas in which they provide preventive maintenance regularly. When equipment failure exists, a field technician will travel to the customer’s location to make the needed repairs. Alternatively, bench technicians remain in repair shops found within the factory or service center, and make repairs that cannot be made on the factory floor.
Some electronic equipment monitors itself and signals repairers when it has malfunctioned. After a malfunction, repairers will first try to identify any frequent causes of failure that are present, like faulty connections or noticeably defective parts. If no immediately observable signs of trouble can be identified, repairers then check the schematics and the specifications advised by the manufacturer, which outlines the proper connections and guidelines of how to identify problems. Identifying and diagnosing problems has become increasingly difficult as electrical control systems have advanced in complexity. Software programs are utilized by repairers to run tests and identify failures. Some of the common diagnostic tools are multimeters, which measure voltage, current, and resistance; and advanced multimeters, which measure capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors. Signal generators are also employed by repairers, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which provide graphic signals. Additionally, repairers make use of elementary tools like pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to make the necessary adjustments to the machines.
Typically, rather than immediately repair component of a machine that has broken down on the floor, repairers will quickly replace malfunctioning components in order to avoid long delays in production that will occur if production waits on the reparation of the faulty component. Faulty components are thrown away or returned to the manufacturer or specialty shop to be repaired. Bench technicians at specialized repair shops have the necessary training, tools, and parts required to adequately diagnose and repair these complex parts, like circuit boards. Additional defects, like badly soldered joints, blown fuses, or faulty transistors will be identified by these workers and repaired.
Quite frequently, electrical and electronics installers will place new control devices on the older manufacturing equipment. Typically, the old manufacturing equipment is still operable, but outdated and ineffective control systems cannot be replaced as there are not parts available. Older electronic control units can be replaced with new PLCs by workers. To install a new PLC, an installer must connect the various sensors and electrically powered devices, like the electric motors, switches, and pumps, as well as write a program to control the PLC.
There must be a coordinated effort between electronics installers and others who install and maintain the machines.
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment take care of installation, adjustments, and maintenance of electronic communication devices which includes the likes of sound, sonar, security, navigation and surveillance systems that are found on differing modes of transportation such as trains, watercraft, and other mobile equipment Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay do inspections, run tests, and repair and maintain electrical equipment generating stations, substations, and in-service relays. Those who work in these areas are often called powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, and power transformer repairers. Other specialized workers carry out reparations, maintenance, and installation of electric motors, wiring, or switches. These workers are known as electric motor, power tool, and related repairers and work as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers.
The job of an electronic equipment installer and repairer of motor vehicles are not very similar. They primarily focus on installing, diagnosing, and repairing the communication, sound, security, and navigation systems of automobiles. The majority of installations have to do with new sound and security systems. The range in cost of a new sound system can vary greatly, depending on the type of system and the difficulty of the installation. The installation of a new radio, or head unit, with a CD player can be as easy as unscrewing a few screws and connecting a few wires. As more components are added to a system, such as an amplifier, subwoofer and/or fuses, the complexity of the installation process increases. A box must be made to contain the subwoofer, either out of fiberglass or wood, which fits nicely in the customer’s automobile. For more powerful speakers, some sound-deadening material must be installed and will require the temporary removal of seats, carpet and door panels in order to place the material in the proper location. New cables for speakers must be laid throughout the car as well. Additional steps to installing a new system may include adding new fuses, connecting a new electrical line to the battery and running it from there to the interior of the car via a hole drilled in the firewall. As an alternative, a new battery or alternator could be added to the car to provide the additional power required. Just a few of the devices that are growing in popularity and complexity include DVD players, satellite navigation equipment, passive-security tracking systems, and active-security systems.
Electronic Technician and Repair Training and Job Qualifications
To be employed in this area, one must have the appropriate understanding and knowledge of electrical equipment and electronics. This knowledge can be obtained by attending vocational schools or community colleges which provide 1-2 year programs, though some enter the industry at the bottom having only a high school diploma. Technicians with experience will likely provide newer repairers with direction and guidance.
It is necessary that workers have excellent vision and color perception to be able to work successfully with the complex parts of an electronic system. Since technicians that work in the field work with and come in to contact with customers frequently, they should have above average communication skills and professional appearance. It is also possible that field technician’s will be required to have a valid driver’s license by their employer.
Certification in this field can be achieved through organizations such as ACES International, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Electronics Technicians Association International, and the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians. Some repairers may choose to focus their efforts on one field, like industrial electronics. A repairer needs to take and pass certain exams related to their degree of training and experience in order to achieve certification.
As a repairer progresses in training and gains valuable experience, he may become a specialists or troubleshooter, thereby aiding other workers in identifying complex problems. Those who have demonstrated leadership like qualities may be promoted as a supervisor of many repairers. Other repairers who have obtained invaluable experience might opt to open their own repair business.
Electronic Technician and Repair Job and Employment Opportunities
Those with complete knowledge of electrical equipment and electronics as well as experience in repairs, have the best opportunity in getting a job. The growth in employment rates for electrical and electronics installers and repairers is not growing on par with the average growth for all occupations over the 2002–12 time frame, however growth deviates by one’s area of specialization. There should be job openings as employers must constantly replace workers who leave the industry, move to different jobs, or exit from the labor, along with filling jobs created by the slow but steady growth of employment.
Employment for the electrical and electronics installers and commercial and industrial equipment repairers is expected to grow on average. Businesses are constantly trying to lower their cost structure, and as result complex equipment is being used more often in an effort to help automate production. Processes such as assembly and testing are becoming more and more automated by incorporating electronic controls, robots, and sensors. New applications will be found throughout many industries as the prices go down, including services, utilities, construction, and manufacturing. Employment growth should not be lessened by the introduction of more reliable equipment. It should be noted that corporations will place added reliance on repairers because when breakdowns occur valuable capital sits idly by, which can become costly.
Average growth in the employment of motor vehicle electronic equipment installers and repairers is projected as well. Employment growth for aftermarket electronic equipment could be stunted as automobile manufacturers incorporate higher quality sound, alarm, entertainment, and navigation systems in cars that roll off the production lines. Also, less maintenance is needed for new electronic systems that provide greater reliability than models in the past.
Below average growth is projected in the employment of electrical and electronic installers and repairers of transportation equipment because of the decline of rail transportation, aerospace products and parts manufacturing, and ship making.
There is also a projected decline in the employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay. As the utility companies and industries are consolidated and privatized, employment will decrease as result of increased productivity. Once again, new equipment is becoming rather reliable and easier to repair, further hurting employment growth.
Historal Earnings Information
In 2002, the median hourly earnings of electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment were $19.77. The middle 50 percent were earning hourly rate in the range of 15.13 and $24.03. The bottom 10 percent earned hourly rates of less than $11.71, and the top 10 percent earned more than $27.08.
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