Engineering technicians solve technical problems by using the principles and theories of engineering, science and mathematics. They work in research and development, construction, manufacturing, and inspection and maintenance. Their work is more application oriented than the work of engineers and scientists. Most engineering technicians work in a specific field.
Common job titles include engineering assistant, electronics technician, electrical engineering technician, electrical design technician, test technician, electrical technician, equipment engineering technician, engineering lab coordinator and engineering lab technician.
Some engineering technicians assist engineers and scientists with research and development activities. They build or set-up equipment and perform experiments. They also collect data and record results. They help scientists or engineers produce prototypes of newly designed equipment. Engineering technician personnel may also help with design work and utilize computer-aided design and drafting equipment.
Some technicians work in quality control. They perform tests, check products and gather data. Engineering technicians that are employed in manufacturing industries help design and develop products. They may prepare technical or engineering drawings.
Some people in the occupation specialize in chemical engineering technology which involves developing new chemical products and processes. Another specialty is bioengineering technology which involves developing and implementing biomedical equipment.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians assist with the designing, developing, testing and manufacturing of electronic and electrical equipment, including navigational equipment, computers, communication equipment, radar, industrial, and medical monitoring and control devices.
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians build, test and maintain aircraft and space vehicles. They often record and interpret data.
Civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers with planning and overseeing the construction of buildings, highways, water treatment systems, bridges and other structures. They also perform related research. Some civil engineering technicians determine the materials to be used and estimate construction costs.
Environmental engineering technicians assist in the development of methods and devices which are used to prevent, control or fix environmental hazards. They also inspect and maintain equipment related to recycling and air pollution. Some environmental technicians inspect water and wastewater treatment systems.
- Install and maintain solid state equipment and electrical control systems
- Make modifications to electrical parts, prototypes, systems and assemblies in order to fix functional deviations
- Assemble electronic and electrical systems and prototypes
- Set up and utilize test equipment
- Work with electrical engineers and others to identify and solve developmental problems
- Develop project cost and work-time estimates
- Build, maintain, troubleshoot and repair testing equipment and electrical instruments
- Assist engineers with product design
- Analyze and interpret test information
- Inspect products and processes
Engineering technicians typically work 40 hours per week. They work in manufacturing plants, offices, construction sites or in laboratories. Some engineering technicians may be exposed to hazards from chemicals, equipment or toxic materials.
Since a large number of engineering technicians are involved with design work, creativity is beneficial. Engineering technicians are usually part of a team, thus the ability to work well with others and good communications skills are important.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 7 percent growth rate from 2006 to 2016 for engineering technician jobs, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.
The employment of engineering technicians in electronics and computer related specialties may be negatively impacted by companies moving part of their development operations overseas. However, a lot of the engineering technician work needs on-site presence, thus the demand for these workers in the United States should continue to grow, especially in environmental, industrial and civil specialties.
Employment for environmental engineers is projected to grow 25% from 2006 to 2016. The demand for aerospace and operations technicians is projected to continue to grow.
In 2006 the median annual earnings for electrical and electronics engineering technicians was $50,650. Two of the highest paying sectors for the occupation are aerospace and telecommunications carriers.
In 2006, about a third of engineering technicians were electrical and electronics engineering technicians. In descending order, the other top job providing specialty areas in 2006 were civil engineering technicians, industrial engineering technicians, mechanical engineering technicians, environmental technicians, electro-mechanical technicians and aerospace engineering and operation technicians.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most employers prefer to hire people that have at least an associate degree in engineering technology. Most associate degree programs that have been accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) include at least college algebra and trigonometry along with one or two basic science courses. Depending on the area of specialization, more science or math may be required.
The type of technical classes required depends on the specialty. A large number of ABET accredited programs are available in engineering technology specialities. Graduates of ABET accredited programs are typically recognized as having an acceptable level of competence in the subjects of science and math and also technical courses that are required of the occupation.
Technical institutes usually offer a lot of technical training through application and practice, however they usually offer less general education and theory than community colleges. Numerous colleges provide bachelor's degrees in engineering technology, however graduates of these programs often are employed as technologists or applied engineers and not as technicians.
A large number of private and public schools offer technical training and the type and quality of training varies significantly. Students may want to ask perspective employers for their school preferences. They should also ask a school representative about the types of jobs graduates have obtained.
Employers typically don't require engineering technicians to be certified, however, those with certification may have a competitive advantage. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers certification programs for several engineering technology specialties.
- National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
- American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians
The top employment sectors are engineering services, telecommunications carriers, semiconductor and electronic manufacturing; navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing; local and state governments, testing laboratories, and architectural services.
Schools for Engineering Technicians are listed in the Browse Schools Section.