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Be a Surveillance Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a surveillance technician. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the electronics field.

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Do I Want to Be a Surveillance Technician?

Surveillance technicians install and repair a variety of electrical equipment in transportation and other industries. Some of their job duties include reassembling equipment, replacing defective parts and maintaining records of labor time. Lifting heavy equipment and working in awkward positions might be required.

Job Requirements

Employers may prefer to hire technicians who have received specialized training in a college program. Licensure is often required, and voluntary certification is available. The following table contains essential requirements needed to become a surveillance technician:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Postsecondary education*
Degree Field Electronics*
Licensure/Certification Licensure from the Federal Communications Commission is typically required**
Key Skills Color vision; communication and troubleshooting skills*
Computer Skills Knowledge of processors, computer hardware and software, computer applications, chips and computer programs***
Technical Skills Ability to install, operate and repair a variety of complex electronic equipment*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Federal Communications Commission, ***O*NET Online

Step 1: Meet Educational Requirements

Taking courses in electronics at community colleges or technical schools can be beneficial to aspiring surveillance technicians. Though a high school diploma may be sufficient for some jobs, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have taken specialized college courses. Programs in electronics or electrical engineering technology at the 2-year level will provide surveillance technicians with a background in circuit design and implementation, electronics installation, measurements and electrical systems.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

After obtaining a 2-year degree in electronics or electrical engineering, a prospective surveillance technician can obtain a job with a surveillance company; usually, new hires work alongside an experienced technician. On-the-job training allows a new technician to become familiar with the types of systems specific companies install and the company's protocol when dealing with clients. New technicians also practice installing, maintaining and replacing surveillance systems of all types.

Step 3: Obtain a License

In addition to the technical aspects of their job, surveillance technicians must be familiar with federal and state laws that govern the installation and use of surveillance equipment. Professional surveillance technicians are often required to obtain a General Class License from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) within a few months of being hired. This license allows for the legal installation and operation of certain types of surveillance equipment. Candidates can obtain this license by completing a written exam.

Some employers may accept other licenses such as the FCC General Radiophonic Operator's License. The Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) and the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians also offer a variety of certifications for different levels of competence.

Success Tip:

  • Keep license current. To keep licenses from expiring, individuals must submit forms and participate in continuing education opportunities within a certain time period.
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