Electronics installers work with a variety of equipment installing and repairing it for companies across any industry. Electronics installers must understand how to work with electrical equipment and have some form of training or on the job experience.
In this free career guide, you will learn how to have a successful career as an electronics installer.
Electronics Installer Summary
- Knowledge of electrical equipment and electronics is necessary for employment; employers often prefer applicants with an associate degree in electronics, and professional certification often is required.
- Job opportunities will be best for applicants with an associate degree, certification, or related experience.
- Overall employment is projected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations.
Working as an Electronics Installer
Businesses and other organizations depend on complex electronic equipment for a variety of functions. Industrial controls automatically monitor and direct production processes on the factory floor. Transmitters and antennae provide communication links for many organizations. Electric power companies use electronic equipment to operate and control generating plants, substations, and monitoring equipment. The Federal Government uses radar and missile control systems to provide for the national defense and to direct commercial air traffic. Such complex pieces of electronic equipment are installed, maintained, and repaired by electrical and electronics installers and repairers.
Installers and repairers, known as field technicians, often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. These workers usually have assigned areas in which they perform preventive maintenance on a regular basis. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer’s site to repair the equipment. Bench technicians work in repair shops located in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor.
Electrical and electronic equipment are two distinct types of industrial equipment, although a great deal of equipment contains both electrical and electronic components. In general, electrical parts provide the power for the equipment, whereas electronic components control the device.
Some industrial electronic equipment is self-monitoring and alerts repairers to malfunctions. When equipment breaks down, repairers will first check for common causes of trouble, such as loose connections or obviously defective components. If routine checks do not locate the trouble, repairers may refer to schematics and manufacturers’ specifications that show connections and provide instructions on how to trace problems. Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex, making diagnosis more challenging. With these systems, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters, which measure voltage, current, and resistance, and advanced multimeters, which measure capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors. Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. Finally, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.
Because repairing components is a complex activity and factories cannot allow production equipment to stand idle, repairers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair. Bench technicians at these locations have the training, tools, and parts needed to thoroughly diagnose and repair circuit boards or other complex components. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.
Electrical and electronics installers often retrofit older manufacturing equipment with new automated control devices. Older manufacturing machines are frequently in good working order, but are limited by inefficient control systems for which replacement parts are no longer available. As a result, installers sometimes replace old electronic control units with new programming logic controls (PLCs). Setting up and installing a new PLC involves connecting it to different sensors and electrically powered devices (electric motors, switches, and pumps) and writing a computer program to operate the PLC. Electronics installers often coordinate their efforts with those of other workers who are installing and maintaining equipment.
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile electronic communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles. Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers. Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers—such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers—specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.
Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles have a significantly different job. They install, diagnose, and repair communication, sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Most installation work involves either new alarm or sound systems. New sound systems vary significantly in cost and complexity of installation. For instance, replacing a head unit (radio) with a new CD player is simple, requiring the removal of a few screws and the connection of a few wires. Installing a new sound system with a subwoofer, amplifier, and fuses is far more complicated. The installer builds a custom fiberglass or wood box designed to hold the subwoofer and to fit inside the unique dimensions of the automobile. Installing sound-deadening material, which often is necessary with more powerful speakers, requires an installer to remove many parts of a car (for example, seats, carpeting, or interiors of doors), add sound-absorbing material in empty spaces, and reinstall the interior parts. The installer also runs new speaker and electrical cables. The new system may require additional fuses, a new electrical line to be run from the battery through a newly drilled hole in the firewall into the interior of the vehicle, or a more powerful alternator or battery. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, satellite navigation equipment, passive security systems, and active security systems.
Work environment. Many electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on factory floors, where they are subject to noise, dirt, vibration, and heat. Bench technicians primarily work in repair shops, where the surroundings are reasonably quiet, comfortable, and well lighted.
Installers and repairers may have to do heavy lifting and work in a variety of positions. They must follow safety guidelines and often wear protective goggles and hardhats. When working on ladders or on elevated equipment, repairers must wear harnesses to avoid falls. Before repairing a piece of machinery, these workers must follow procedures to ensure that others cannot start the equipment during the repair process. They also must take precautions against electric shock by locking off power to the unit under repair.
Motor vehicle electronic equipment installers and repairers normally work indoors in well-ventilated and well-lighted repair shops. Minor cuts and bruises are common, but serious accidents usually are avoided when safety practices are observed.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Applicants with an associate degree in electronics are preferred, and professional certification often is required.
Education and training. Knowledge of electrical equipment and electronics is necessary for employment. Employers often prefer applicants with an associate degree from a community college or technical school, although a high school diploma may be sufficient for some jobs. Entry-level repairers may begin by working with experienced technicians who provide technical guidance, and work independently only after developing the necessary skills.
Other qualifications. Installers and repairers should have good eyesight and color perception to work with the intricate components used in electronic equipment. Field technicians work closely with customers and should have good communication skills and a neat appearance. Employers also may require that field technicians have a driver’s license.
Certification and advancement. Various organizations offer certification. For instance, the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) offers over 50 certification programs in numerous electronics specialties for varying levels of competence. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians also offers certification for several levels of competence, focusing on a broad range of topics, including basic electronics, electronic systems, and appliance service. To become certified, applicants must meet several prerequisites and pass a comprehensive written or online examination. Certification demonstrates a level of competency and can make an applicant more attractive to employers, as well as increase one’s opportunities for advancement.
Experienced repairers with advanced training may become specialists or troubleshooters who assist other repairers diagnose difficult problems. Workers with leadership skills may become supervisors of other repairers. Some experienced workers open their own repair shops.
Employment as an Electronics Installer
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers held about 160,900 jobs in 2008. The following tabulation breaks down their employment by occupational specialty:
|Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, commercial and industrial equipment||78,000|
|Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers||23,700|
|Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay||23,400|
|Electrical equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles||19,700|
|Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment||16,100|
Many repairers worked for repair and maintenance establishments.
Overall employment is expected to grow more slowly than the average through the year 2018. Job prospects should be best for applicants with an associate degree, certification, and related experience.
Employment change. Overall employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers is expected to grow by 5 percent through the year 2018, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Growth rates, however, will vary by occupational specialty.
Employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers of commercial and industrial equipment is expected to grow 4 percent, which is slower than the average for all occupations. As equipment becomes more sophisticated, businesses will strive to lower costs by increasing and improving automation. Companies will install electronic controls, robots, sensors, and other equipment to automate processes such as assembly and testing. Improved reliability of equipment, however, may constrain employment growth of installers; on the other hand, companies will increasingly rely on repairers because malfunctions that idle commercial and industrial equipment will continue to be costly.
Little or no employment change is expected for motor vehicle electronic equipment installers and repairers. As motor vehicle manufacturers install more and better sound, security, entertainment, and navigation systems in new vehicles, and as newer electronic systems require progressively less maintenance, employment growth for aftermarket electronic equipment installers will be limited.
Employment of electric motor, power tool, and related repairers is expected to grow 5 percent, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Retrofitting electrical generators in public buildings to reduce emissions and energy consumption will spur some employment growth. However, improvements in electrical and electronic equipment design, as well as the increased use of disposable tool parts should suppress job growth.
Employment of electrical and electronic installers and repairers of transportation equipment is expected to grow 4 percent, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Declining employment in the rail transportation industry will dampen growth in this occupational specialty.
Employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay is also expected to grow 12 percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations. While privatization in utilities industries should improve productivity and hinder employment growth, installation of newer, energy efficient green technologies will spur demand for employment.
Job prospects. Job opportunities should be best for applicants with an associate degree in electronics, certification, and related experience. In addition to employment growth, the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force will result in some job openings.
|Occupational Title||SOC Code||Employment, 2008||Projected
|Electrical and electronics installers and repairers||—||160,900||168,400||7,500||5|
|Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers||49-2092||23,700||24,900||1,200||5|
|Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment||49-2093||16,100||16,700||700||4|
|Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment||49-2094||78,000||81,000||2,900||4|
|Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay||49-2095||23,400||26,100||2,700||12|
|Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles||49-2096||19,700||19,700||0||0|
|NOTE: Data in this table are rounded.|
Earnings for Electronics Installers
Median hourly wages of electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment were $23.29 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $18.40 and $28.73. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $14.39, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33.81. In May 2008, median hourly wages were $25.31 in the Federal Government and $22.46 in building equipment contractors, the industries employing the largest numbers of electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment.
Median hourly wages of electric motor, power tool, and related repairers were $16.96 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.48 and $21.57. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.47, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.40. In May 2008, median hourly wages were $16.57 in commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair, the industry employing the largest number of electronic motor, power tool, and related repairers.
Median hourly wages of electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay were $29.34 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $25.68 and $33.72. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20.91, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $38.43. In May 2008, median hourly wages were $29.66 in electric power generation, transmission, and distribution, the industry employing the largest number of these repairers.
Median hourly wages of electronics installers and repairers, motor vehicles were $13.29 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.79 and $16.89. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.85, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.07.
Median hourly wages of electrical and electronics repairers, transportation equipment were $21.37 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $16.86 and $25.73. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $13.42, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30.32.