If you take pride in your analytical mindset, technological ability, and eye for design, you could have the makings of a successful engineering technician. This important role encompasses a variety of fields and niches, but always requires technical skills and a passion for problem-solving. These key qualities, combined with a great education, can help you find work with a variety of manufacturing companies, government agencies, or consulting firms.
What Is an Engineering Technician?
Engineering technicians assist engineers with a variety of projects. Like engineers, they apply analytical thinking and mathematical concepts to solve problems and manufacture products more efficiently.
This field is highly versatile and may involve many different types of engineering. Depending on the job, technicians may play a supportive role for mechanical, chemical, or electronic engineers.
Although the position typically involves the simple job title of engineering technician, professionals may also be referred to by their niche. Examples of common job titles include:
- Electronic engineering technician
- Mechanical engineering technician
- Manufacturing engineering technician
- Materials engineering technician
- Design engineering technician
- Quality engineering technician
Job Responsibilities of an Engineering Technician
If the variety of positions outlined above is any indication, no two engineering technician jobs look exactly alike. The job is, by nature, versatile, with technicians taking on a wide array of tasks to support engineers. Many work in teams, although some independent functions may also be required. Common duties include:
- Inspecting designs for quality control purposes
- Reporting findings from quality control inspections
- Creating or modifying prototypes
- Reviewing project blueprints to ensure adherence to specifications and procedures
- Installing and maintaining workstations or equipment
- Collecting and analyzing data related to testing techniques
- Obtaining necessary data or materials for engineering teams
- Determining proper methods for resolving malfunctions
Career Outlook for Engineering Technicians
Significant competition currently exists within the field of engineering technology, although demand differs greatly between niches. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates a job outlook of three percent by 2028 for mechanical engineering technicians. Meanwhile, experts predict minimal changes in employment figures for electrical and electronics engineering technicians.
While limited prospects for growth may initially spark concern among aspiring engineering technicians, a lot depends on preferred sectors and specialties. Fewer jobs may be available with the federal government or in manufacturing, but those with advanced software skills should have little trouble finding work that involves deploying 3D designs or developing automation systems. The Internet of Things (IoT), in particular, represents an exciting area of possibility for both current and future engineering technicians.
When pursuing an AAS in Electronic Engineering Technology, students should take both the current reality of high competition and the future possibility of tech-oriented positions into account. With proper skills and the willingness to keep learning, it's possible to achieve a leg up on the field's inherent competition.
What Can I Do with an Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology?
An Associate of Applied Science in Electronic Technology from Bryant & Stratton College serves as a valuable starting point for a successful career as an engineering technician. Most employers regard the associate degree as the minimum point of entry for this field. Equipped with an AAS, it's possible for technicians to score a variety of excellent jobs—or return to college to seek a bachelor's degree, if desired.
Upon graduating from the AAS in Electronic Technology program, aspiring technicians should be able to read and understand a variety of mechanical and electrical diagrams. Graduates should also be well aware of industry best practices, as well as current and upcoming developments in analog and digital electronics.
The ability to read and interpret technical documentation is crucial, as aspiring technicians will need to draw on findings from these documents to provide accurate recommendations and feedback. An AAS provides both thorough theoretical education and hands-on experience to prepare future engineering technicians for success in a quickly changing field.
While many companies regard an AAS in Electronic Technology as the minimum level of education required for engineering technicians, additional training and certifications can further impress potential employers. The CompTIA A+ and Network+ exams, for example, demonstrate an understanding of critical tech concepts that will play an increasingly prevalent role in the engineering technician jobs of tomorrow.
Additional education beyond the associate degree level can prove valuable, as some employers prefer to hire applicants with bachelor's degrees. A Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering Technology, for example, demonstrates further proficiency.
Often, graduates of the AAS in Electronic Technology program continue on with Bryant & Stratton's related bachelor's degree program. This smooth transition allows them to build upon the knowledge they've already gained while further advancing both their technical understanding and soft skills.
Employment Settings for Engineering Technicians
Engineering technicians work for a variety of organizations, including everything from engineering service firms to the military. Many are employed by the U.S. Air Force, which hires technicians at bases throughout the country. Others work in manufacturing, which has long been a top source of employment for skilled technicians.
Manufacturing positions can vary significantly, with technicians often involved in producing semiconductors or electromedical instruments. Contracting and consulting are common, especially given the increased effort among many companies to reduce engineering costs.
Increasingly, technicians are required in emerging fields such as robotics, 3D printing, and renewable energy. Their breadth of knowledge and advanced technical skills allow them to play an important role in the breakthroughs that are likely to transform the economy of tomorrow.
Depending on the industry and the organization served, engineering technicians may work in offices, labs, or factories. Regardless of the setting, their efforts typically involve some combination of hands-on tasks and engineering theory.
Production schedules often determine whether engineering technicians work day or night shifts. These may be scheduled during the week or on weekends. Those employed by the federal government typically hold standard 9-to-5 positions, but hours can prove highly variable for other types of technicians.
An associate degree from Bryant & Stratton can prove enticing to the right employers or even serve as a stepping stone to a related bachelor's degree—but it provides no guarantee of employment. Still, given the competitive nature of the field and the need for highly-trained employees with extensive technical skills, the AAS in Electronic Engineering program is well worth the effort for those eager to make a difference in several of today's most vital industries.
If you think a career as an Engineering Technician may be right for you, you can find more detailed information on this field by visiting the technology section on the Bryant & Stratton College blog. There you'll find further career insights to help you plan your career path into the world of technology.