If it seems that everything runs on electricity today, you might be right. Electricity makes life easier; however, it takes people to keep everything running as it should. A degree in electronics can become a stable career. Many colleges, universities, and schools offer a two-year Associate’s degree for future electronic technicians or electronic engineers.
The journey starts with fundamentals, some of which came from physics and biology class in high school. Some of what the beginner can learn about includes atomic theory; what voltage, resistance, current, energy and power, and Ohm's law have to do with electricity; the differences in circuits; and voltage and current dividers.
Also included will be computer aided schematic capture and circuit analysis. Much more is required for the foundation and is often spread out over two semesters when possible. Most of these theories and lectures will come with a required lab portion so that the student gets hands-on experience learning what each part really means. Depending on what route of electronics you want to focus on, once you have your basics down, you will be able to specialize more in certain areas if you desire.
Working in Electronics
A degree in electronics can be extremely versatile. If you would rather not work on computers, but still find the technology fascinating, you may want to focus on such devices as Kindles, iPods, iPads, and cell phones in the R&D department. Engineering opportunities include electronics, mobile technologies, broadcasting, telecommunications, power supply and distribution, instrumentation and control, construction, plus many manufacturing industries. With an electrical technician degree, you can install and repair electronics generally, or specifically in certain areas such as motor vehicles, industrial electronics or small-motor electronics. You have a choice of working on powerhouses or substations as well. The hours can be long at times and, with the more physically-demanding jobs, tiring. Though growth in this industry might be slow, the need for knowledgeable men and women will continue as long as technology continues to use electricity to power it.
Being Successful in Electronics
People who might enjoy working in the electronics field are not just computer-savvy students. Electronics goes far beyond mere computers. The people who get called upon when telephone lines need repairing, indoor and outdoor electrical lines, car systems, and more have to have good knowledge of electronics and how they work. Working with your hands as well as your mind is a requirement, as is an eye for safety. Those who have electronics degrees often know how to read schematics, lay cable, and repair fiber optics.
For those with a need to help the government or our armed forces, you can even aid in keeping satellite systems operative. Because new technology often requires new advances in electrical systems and engineering as well, creativity and a thirst for pushing the boundaries can only help advance your career. Detailed work will be required, and so your focus must be on your job. After disasters strike, individuals working in the field of electronics across the board are some of the first ones who get called in to help rebuild.
Programs similar to Electronics
Similar programs to electronics include electrical engineering, which is a much wider field that electronics is part of. Electronic engineering is further broken down into other subfields: signal processing, telecommunications engineering, control engineering, instrumentation engineering, computer engineering, and project engineering. Though similar, many of these highly specific areas may require a four-year degree or higher.
Electronic Technician Salary and Outlook
Job growth and outlook in the field of electronic repair and installation is very much dependent on your level of expertise and education. In May 2010, the median annual wage of electrical and electronics installers and repairers was $49,170, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As for the outlook and overall employment of electronics repairer, this career is expected to grow 3 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than the average for all occupations. This is due to a competition between repairmen increasing and businesses striving to lower costs through automation.