Electronic Engineering Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Electronic engineering technicians are involved in designing, developing, building, assembling and servicing the electronic components in areas such as:

  • Telecommunications equipment.
  • Radios and televisions.
  • Computers.
  • Hospital diagnostic equipment.
  • Medical and scientific equipment.
  • Robotics.
  • Transportation systems.
  • Control systems used in everything from satellite tracking devices to washing machines.

Technicians may work in:

  • Design, using computer-aided design (CAD) systems to prepare printed circuit boards and electrical wiring diagrams, which are used by assembly workers.
  • Research and development, helping design and build test equipment and prototypes, carrying out tests and monitoring and recording results, which are analysed by senior engineers.
  • Preparing, adjusting and measuring the accuracy of electronic and electrical equipment.
  • Production, helping plan, design and implement new electronic control systems for production processes; and installing and connecting cables and components, diagnosing and repairing faults as they arise, often involving quality control.
  • Installation and maintenance of electronic equipment in road, rail and air traffic control systems.

Electronic engineering technicians usually work as part of a team from different engineering disciplines. They may supervise craft workers and support engineers, ensuring that daily planned work schedules are met.

Technicians usually work standard daytime hours, but may need to be flexible and perform occasional weekend and night work. They are most likely to work in a manufacturing environment. Others will work in offices and laboratories that are typically clean, well lit and air conditioned.

Newly qualified electronic engineering technicians generally start on around £13,000 a year. More experienced technicians may earn around £20,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Electronics is a large, international industry that is continually growing. There are opportunities for electronic engineering technicians across many different fields, including the aerospace, marine, chemical, manufacturing, energy and medical industries.

Employers include manufacturers, research and development companies, IT and telecommunications companies, the armed forces, local and central government, and public utilities, such as water, gas and electricity companies.

Vacancies may be advertised in the local press and in Jobcentre Plus offices. Many large employers have details of vacancies on their website's, and a large number of specialist engineering recruitment agencies advertise on the internet. Students and technicians registered with a professional institution will have access to professional magazines that may contain advertisements.

Education and Training

A typical route to becoming a technician is either through an Apprenticeship with an employer, or by taking a course, such as a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma before starting work as a trainee. The Diplomas in engineering, information technology, and manufacturing and product design may be relevant for this area of work.

Electronic engineering and related courses are offered by colleges throughout the country. Entry is usually with at least four GCSE's (A*-C), including English, maths, and science or technology, or equivalent qualifications. Candidates should check entry requirements with individual institutions.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Degree courses in electronics are also widely available. Students often have the option of studying a related field, such as telecommunications, robotics, control systems, computing or medical instruments, at the same time.

Entry to a degree course is usually with a minimum of two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), or the equivalent. Work experience may sometimes be accepted in lieu of academic qualifications.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Apprentices undertake practical training at the workplace, usually with day or block release for college study. Apprentices and other trainees study towards NVQ's in:

  • Electrical and electronics servicing Levels 2 and 3.
  • Electrical and electronic engineering Level 3.
  • Engineering maintenance and installation (electronics) Level 2.
  • Process engineering maintenance (instrument and control) Levels 2 and 3.
  • Performing engineering operations Levels 1 and 2.
  • City & Guilds (C&G) Progression Award in electrical electronics servicing (6958) at Levels 2 and 3.

Technician apprentices may also complete their initial engineering training in a training centre where they obtain experience in a number of departments, such as production planning and quality control.

College courses also include BTEC National Certificates and Diplomas in:

- Operations and maintenance engineering
- Manufacturing engineering
- Electronic engineering

Technicians can then become fully qualified as an electronics engineer by studying part-time for a BTEC HNC/HND in electronic engineering, which will enable them to apply to The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for registration as a technician with the title EngTech.

There is a growing demand in a wide range of engineering-related fields for registered engineering technicians and registration provides professional accreditation. The title is recognised internationally.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Electronic engineering technicians should:

  • Be good at working with their hands and a range of tools.
  • Have normal colour vision.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Have good ICT skills.
  • Understand engineering principles and drawings.
  • Be able to work in a methodical way, paying attention to detail.
  • Be able to work well as part of a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

With further study, electronic engineering technicians may progress to posts as engineers and, with experience and additional qualifications, may become chartered engineers.

It may also be possible to take on management responsibilities or lead a team of technicians.

Get Further Information

Website www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),
Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 313311
Website: www.theiet.org

SEMTA (the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering
and Manufacturing Technologies), 14 Upton Road, Watford,
Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0800 100 3682
Website: www.semta.org.uk

SummitSkills, Vega House, Opal Drive,
Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF
Tel: 01908 303960
Website: www.summitskills.org.uk

Women into Science, Engineering and Construction (WISE),
2nd Floor, Weston House, 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0408
Website: www.wisecampaign.org.uk

Women's Engineering Society,
The IET, Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way,
Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 765506
Website: www.wes.org.uk

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