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Electronics School Options & Information

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Electronics school is an excellent starting point for technically minded people who are eager to learn how to install, maintain, and repair a wide variety of components and systems. Vocational colleges and trade schools offer a number of relevant educational paths, including programs in electronics technology, mechatronics, or engineering technology. With two years or less of training, you can be prepared to launch a career in this dynamic and well-paying field.

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Electronics Training

Programs at electronics schools are designed to help students like you develop the technical know-how and practical skills that are prized in many different industries. Completing such a course of study can lead to a vast range of rewarding opportunities.

Benefits of Attending Electronics School

Learn industry-current techniques: You can get supervised electronics training from instructors who know what today's employers expect and can help you develop safe and effective work practices.

Increase your income potential: Some of the top-paying positions in the electronics field, such as avionics technician and electronic engineering technician, often require formal training beyond high school.

Get help with your job search: Many trade schools have connections with local employers and offer their students assistance with resume writing, interview preparation, and more.

Length of Training

It can take anywhere from four months to four years to complete your electronics training, depending on the program you choose and the credential you pursue.*

Most Common Length of School*
(range in months)

  • Basic electronics
    4-12
  • Electronic technology
    9-24
  • Engineering technology
    24-48

Program Options

At trade schools, technical institutes, and community colleges, you can choose from a range of programs in electronics, mechatronics, and electronic engineering technology.

Certificate or diploma programs can take from four months to a year or more to complete.* They cover the fundamentals of circuits, hardware, testing equipment, and repair methods. These types of programs can be typical for electronic technician training.

Associate degree programs are usually 18 to 24 months long.* They include more general education classes and sometimes allow you to specialize in a certain area, such as biomedical equipment or automation. A degree at this level can lead to a wider range of career opportunities and is often required for hands-on technician positions in avionics, mechatronics, or electronic engineering.

Bachelor's degree programs generally take four years to complete.* They typically provide more advanced coursework in areas like physics, math, computer programming, and business management. If you'd like to become an electronics engineer who focuses on conceptual knowledge and design work, a bachelor's degree is the way to go.



Typical Courses

Specific courses vary by program and institution. However, you may receive instruction in areas like:

  • AC and DC circuits
  • Semiconductors
  • Digital electronics
  • Power supplies
  • Electronic sensors
  • Integrated circuit theory
  • Mechatronics
  • Avionics
  • Automation
  • Motors and controls
  • Wiring principles
  • Microcontrollers
  • Soldering
  • Programming languages
  • Math
  • Physics
  • System design
  • Troubleshooting methods
  • Safety protocols

Skills You Can Learn

You can start becoming adept at:

  • Understanding circuit diagrams
  • Assembling and testing design prototypes
  • Using equipment like soldering irons, oscilloscopes, multimeters, and signal generators
  • Calculating voltage, current, and resistance
  • Fixing or replacing defective components
  • Disassembling, testing, and reassembling equipment
  • Identifying hazards and avoiding electrical shocks

Certification

Licensing or certification is not generally required to work in this field. However, avionics technicians who are not certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must work under the supervision of a certified technician. You can complete an airframe certificate or become certified as a repairman.

To qualify for an airframe certificate, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be fluent in English
  • Complete an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician program OR have at least 18 months of practical experience
  • Pass an oral, practical, and written exam

To qualify for a repairman certificate in avionics, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be fluent in English
  • Work for a certified repair station and be recommended for the certificate by your employer
  • Have at least 18 months of avionics experience OR have completed formal avionics training

The Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) certification from the National Center for Aerospace & Transportation Technologies (NCATT) meets the formal training requirement for a repairman certificate.

Here are a few other relevant authorities that offer voluntary certifications for electronics technicians:

ETA International offers more than 80 certifications in areas like industrial electronics, fiber optics, photonics, wireless communications, and renewable energy.

The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) offers several levels of certifications related to topics like radar systems, industrial electronics, and home appliance repair.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) offers a couple of certifications related to control systems and process automation.

Education & Training FAQs

What should I look for in an electronics school?

Consider course length and scheduling flexibility. And research each program to see what areas of electronics it focuses on. If you're interested in a particular specialty (like telecommunications or security systems), make sure the program you choose offers training in that area.

What is mechatronics exactly?

A mechatronics degree or certificate program combines training in electronics with mechanics, computer technology, and control systems. It focuses on helping students develop the skills to maintain and repair complex automated or robotic equipment.

Mechatronics may be offered as a stand-alone program or a specialty within engineering technology or electronics degree programs.

Can I train online?

While some electronics programs require you to be on-site for hands-on training, others are delivered entirely online through Web-based videos and simulations. Some programs will even send you basic tools like a multimeter, breadboard, and soldering supplies.

Do I have to renew my certification?

Most ETA International certifications require annual maintenance. That means you must complete a certain number of continuing education hours and pay a fee each year.

Certifications from ISCET are valid for two to four years, depending on which credential you hold. To renew, you must either pass an exam or log a certain number of continuing education hours.

ISA certifications must be renewed every three years. You can either retake the exam or submit evidence of a certain amount of professional experience.

Airframe certificates from the FAA do not need to be renewed. Repairman certificates do not expire as long as you continue to be employed at the repair station through which you became certified. But if you leave that station, your certificate will no longer be valid.

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Career Information

Electronics specialists are the people who come to the rescue when electronic components, devices, and systems go haywire. For those with a technical bent and a love of hands-on work, this field offers plenty of satisfying opportunities.

Career Snapshot

Career Outlook**
2.4% growth from 2019 to 2029

Median Salary**
(Average Median)

Job Openings**
Average Yearly Openings

Length of Training
Most Common Length

Work Settings

Specializations

Relay and substation equipment, commercial and industrial equipment, transportation equipment, motor vehicles, electric motors and power tools

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earnings

Technicians who install and repair electronic equipment earn a median salary of $59,080, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). And estimates from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program show the following median salaries for other electronics-related careers:

  • Avionics technicians: $65,700
  • Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technicians: $58,350
  • Electronic engineering technicians: $65,260

Based on the median earnings of all four categories mentioned above, the average median wage in the electronics field is $62,098.

Job Openings & Outlook

Employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that between 2019 and 2029, employment of electronics specialists is expected to grow by 2.4 percent.

That percentage represents an average of the projected job growth rates for each of the following occupational categories:

  • Electrical and electronic engineering techs
  • Electrical and electronic equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers
  • Electro-mechanical and mechatronics techs

Collectively, those occupations should generate an average of 34,100 job openings each year over the projection period.

Key Benefits

  1. Mentally engaging hands-on work: You can work on a huge variety of electronic equipment, solve new challenges every day, and instantly see the results of your efforts.
  2. Low barrier to entry: The relevant training can be done in two years or less.*
  3. High earning potential: Median wages for installing and repairing electronics are far above the national median for all occupations, according to the OOH.

What an Electronic Technician Does

Man in glasses using a soldering iron, pliers, and stationary magnifying glass to work on an electronic componentElectronic technicians install and service a wide range of electronic instruments, devices, and equipment. They can work with anything from microwaves and stereos to industrial motors and communications equipment. Many also work in the military, servicing things like radios, sonar systems, GPS equipment, and ship propulsion systems.

Depending on their specific role, they might:

  • Build prototypes based on engineers' designs
  • Install new equipment or components
  • Run diagnostic tests on existing systems and replace parts as needed
  • Fabricate new parts by welding or cutting metal
  • Clean, lubricate, or calibrate electronic equipment
  • Calibrate electronic equipment
  • Interpret wiring diagrams and schematics
  • Perform regular maintenance on equipment
  • Keep logs and write reports
  • Communicate with colleagues and customers

Work Settings

Depending on their specialty, technicians may work in:

  • Repair shops
  • Factories
  • Garages
  • Power stations
  • Research labs
  • Aircraft hangars
  • Military bases

They are employed in a diverse range of industries, including:

  • Utilities
  • Communications
  • Consumer electronics
  • Manufacturing
  • Home automation
  • Telecommunications
  • Engineering
  • Aviation

Careers

Completing electronics training at a trade school or vocational college can prepare you to take on a range of roles, including:

Telecommunications technician: Work on things like routers, modems, switches, and phone lines.

Computer or office machine repairer: Install and maintain things like printers, fax machines, photocopiers, and automated teller machines.

Power line installer: Set up and repair the lines that keep the power grid going. In addition to your electronics training, you will likely need to complete an apprenticeship.

Avionics technician: Inspect and maintain the electronic instruments and control panels on an aircraft. An associate degree in electronics is a good starting point, but you will also need to complete certification through the FAA.

Electronic engineering technician: Build prototypes to test engineering designs and repair and service the completed systems.

Electro-mechanical or mechatronics technician: Combine the principles of electronics, mechanics, and computing to install, troubleshoot, maintain, and repair automated machinery and systems.

Specializations

Many technicians concentrate on a particular type of system. You could choose to focus on:

  • Relay and substation equipment: Keep electrical equipment in generating stations functioning.
  • Commercial and industrial equipment: Maintain things like transmitters, antennas, robotic equipment, or computer-controlled machinery.
  • Transportation equipment: Work on navigation, surveillance, and security systems in trains, boats, or aircraft.
  • Motor vehicles: Service security, sound, and navigation systems in cars and trucks.
  • Electric motors and power tools: Install and fix switches and wiring in things like drills and electric golf carts.

Career FAQs

Smiling young man sitting at a worktable and using a torque screwdriver on a piece of computer hardwareWhat do you need to be a good electronic technician?

You should be detail-oriented, enjoy problem-solving, and be comfortable working with your hands. Successful technicians also possess:

  • Technical aptitude: Interpreting wiring schematics and using hand tools are basic parts of the job.
  • Hand-eye coordination: You'll often be repairing small components like wires and circuits.
  • Color vision: You need to be able to distinguish color-coded wires and electrical components.
  • Strength and stamina: You might be called upon to stand at a bench for long periods of time or lift and move heavy components on a job site.
  • Communication skills: The ability to clearly explain problems, test results, and solutions (either to customers or in written reports) is essential.

What's the difference between electronic technicians and electronic engineering technicians?

The two careers have a lot of overlap, but there are some important differences.

Electronic technicians focus on installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, and operation. They tend to have hands-on service jobs that involve a lot of contact with customers. These types of technicians generally need to complete a certificate or associate degree program in electronics, although some positions require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training.

Electronic engineering technicians support the work of engineers by helping to design, test, and evaluate electronic components and equipment. They build prototypes and refine designs based on tests and observations. These types of technicians typically need to have an associate degree in electronic engineering technology.


Electronics School Can Set You on a New Path

Post-secondary training can help you gain the skills and confidence to find success in this dynamic field. By completing an electronics program at a trade school, you can become ready to pursue all kinds of satisfying opportunities.


* Length of training information is based on a combination of information from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Department of Education, and a wide sampling of relevant program lengths from about 30 individual school websites. They are a mix of public, private non-profit, and private for-profit institutions.

** The average median salary is based on the average of OOH data for electrical and electronics installers and repairers as well as OES estimates for a) electrical and electronic engineering technicians and technologists and b) electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians. Employment growth is based on the average of BLS projections for the same occupations. Job openings are based on BLS projections and represent a cumulative total for the same occupations.