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What is this job like?

Engineering technicians solve technical problems. They work in various fields. Some of them help engineers and scientists in research and development. They build or set up equipment. They do experiments. They collect data and calculate or record results. They help make a first model of newly designed equipment.

Some work in quality control. They look over products, do tests, and collect data. In manufacturing they may help in design, development, or production.

Most engineering technicians specialize in certain areas. For example, there are civil engineering technicians and electrical and electronics engineering technicians.

Most engineering technicians work at least 40 hours a week. They work in labs, offices, factories, or on construction sites. Some times they can be exposed to hazards.

How do you get ready?

Most employers prefer to hire someone with at least a 2-year associate degree in engineering technology. You can be trained at a lot of different schools or in the Armed Forces. You may be able to get a job with science, engineering, and math courses in college. If so, you may need more training and experience.

High school students who are interested in this field should take as many science and math courses as possible.

Many engineering technicians help with design. To do this it is good to be creative. They often work as part of a team. As a result, good speaking and writing skills are important. They also must be able to work well with others.

Beginning engineering technicians are usually given routine jobs and watched closely. Then they are given more difficult jobs and watched less closely. Some become supervisors.

How much does this job pay?

The middle half of all electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned between $33,760 and $53,200 in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $26,770. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $64,070.

The middle half of all civil engineering technicians earned between $29,030 and $47,260 in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $23,080. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $56,910.

How many jobs are there?

There were 478,000 engineering technician jobs in 2002. Of these, 204,000 were electrical and electronics engineering technicians. About 39 percent of all engineering technician jobs were in manufacturing. Another 20 percent were in companies that do engineering work on contract for government and businesses.

In 2002 the Federal Government employed 11,000 engineering technicians. There were 34,000 engineering technicians in State government and 24,000 in local government.

What about the future?

Those with an associate degree or lots of job training in this field will have the best chance for a job. Employers will want people who are trained in the latest technology. This is so they will have little additional training to do. There will be more jobs in public health and safety.

Employment of engineering technicians is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all jobs through 2012. Companies will have to improve and update their factories and product design. However, more use of computers will limit job growth.

Employment also depends on the economy. This is true at both the local and national levels. Growth in the largest field—electronics—is expected to be about as fast as the average. The best chances may be in the environmental field, which is expected to grow faster than average.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators
  • Drafters
  • Science technicians
  • Surveyors
Where can you find more information?

More information about these jobs can be found in the Careers Database.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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