Electronic Communication Technologies: Training and Degree Programs
Electronic communication technologies degree and training programs teach students to program communication devices, maintain television and radio broadcast communications equipment and assist electrical engineers. Training programs in electronic communication technologies are commonly available as certificate, associate and bachelor's degree programs.
Certificate in Electronics Technology
Certificate programs are designed both for professionals brushing up their skills, as well as high school graduates interested in training for a career as a field service engineer. Students prepare for entry-level jobs in electronic communication technology by studying basic electrical theory and equipment maintenance for the telephone, radio and television industries. Accelerated certificates take as little as one year to complete, while longer certificate programs take up to 18 months. Prospective students are required to have earned a high school diploma or GED certificate prior to applying.
Students in certificate programs prepare for construction, repair and installation jobs by learning about circuitry and networking for everything from radios to cell phone towers. Coursework includes:
- Computer aided design and drafting
- Computer networking
- Electrical codes
- Technical writing
Graduates from certificate programs find work as systems technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 160,900 electrical and electronics installers and repairers employed across various fields, as of May 2008 (www.bls.gov). Among these, workers were employed in the following jobs:
- Computer network specialist
- Instrument manufacturer
- Electrical contractor
- Electronics equipment salesperson
- Equipment maintenance tech
Associate Degree in Electronic Technology
Similar to the certificate in electronics technology, associate degree programs in electronic technology cover technical subjects as well as general education. Students prepare for positions in electromagnetic communication technology by learning about wiring, testing equipment and electrical codes. General electronic technology associate degrees can prepare graduates to work in jobs such as telecommunications field service engineers and research and development specialists. There are no additional prerequisites expected of applicants to an associate degree program in electronic technology.
Since the early days of telecommunications, with the invention of the telegraph, electrical technologists have been repairing communications equipment. In the modern era, prospective technologists also are tasked with programming automated machines and troubleshooting electronic systems. Specific courses may include:
- Electronic communications
- High definition digital television
- Computer Aided Design
- Data communications
- Electronic testing
- Digital communications
- Radar and microwave communications
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a three percent increase in jobs for electrical and electronics installers and repairers in the decade of 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). Job growth in this field is expected to increase at a much slower rate than the job growth for the nation, which is calculated to be 14% for the same period. Within the field, salary may vary somewhat between subspecialties. For instance, according to the BLS as of May 2012, electrical and electronics installers and repairers working on transportation equipment earn a median of $51,240 annually, those working on commercial and industrial equipment earn $52,650, and electrical power-line installers and repairers bring in a median of $63,250 per year.
Bachelor's Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology
A bachelor's degree program in electronic technology or electronic engineering technology with an electronic communications track covers the lifespan of an electronic device, from design and development to repair. Students learn to test and troubleshoot electronic equipment through hands-on experiences and laboratory work. Some electronics communication bachelor's degree programs take five years to complete; for some programs, prospective students are expected to have completed an associate program in engineering technology or be a high school graduate with a background in physics and chemistry.
Students in bachelor's degree programs are able to focus studies in everything from communications to microprocessors to digital signal processing. Commonly offered courses include:
- A.C. and D.C. circuits
- Digital signal processing
- Analog and digital communications systems
- Computer programming
- Industrial electronics
- Technical writing and communications
Electronic communication technology professionals work in the architectural engineering, semiconductor, navigational and control instruments manufacturing industries, as well as for the federal government. Among these, graduates of electronics communications and electronic engineering technology programs may find work as a:
- Computer network specialist
- Satellite Applications Specialist
- Engineering assistant
- Electronic communication specialist
- Telecommunications Technician
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