Commercial and industrial electronic equipment repairers, also called electronics mechanics, install and repair electronic equipment used in industrial automated equipment controls, missile control systems, radar systems, X-ray equipment, transmitters, and antennas.
Commercial and industrial electronics mechanics install the electronic components of new equipment. Duties vary by industry setting. On an Air Force base, for example, they may install the electronic control panel on a new fighter plane. In a hospital, the work might involve installing computer-assisted topography (CAT Scan) equipment. Regardless of the type of equipment, repairers must coordinate their efforts with workers installing mechanical or electromechanical components. Using testing equipment, the repairer insures that everything is functioning properly before the customer takes charge of the equipment.
When trouble occurs in the equipment, the repairer first determines that it is in the electronic component of the equipment and checks for common causes of trouble such as loose connections or obviously defective components. If routine checks do not locate the trouble, repairers refer to blueprints and manufacturers' specifications that show connections and provide instruction on how to locate problems.
When locating the cause of electronic failures, repairers use several kinds of tools including voltmeters, ohmmeters, signal generators, ammeters, and oscilloscopes. They run special diagnostic programs that help pinpoint certain malfunctions. To make repairs, they may replace defective components or wiring, or adjust and calibrate equipment. Although it may take several hours to locate a problem, fixing the equipment may take only a few minutes.
Preventive maintenance is another responsibility of electronics repairers. Equipment is checked, cleaned, and repaired periodically to detect and prevent defects. Records are usually kept to show the date and condition of the equipment serviced, and to indicate when it is due to be reserviced. Repairers also have to maintain records of repairs, calibrations, and tests.
Commercial and industrial electronic equipment repairers generally work a 40-hour week. Industries that operate around the clock will often rotate shifts, so repairers may work evenings, nights, days, weekends, or holidays. For example, repairers working for hospitals may have to work evenings and weekends so that someone is always available to make emergency repairs to malfunctioning respirators and other life-support equipment. In less critical situations, electronics repairers employed as part of an emergency crew may be on call during off-duty hours.
Working conditions vary depending upon the job. On the factory floor, repairers may be exposed to heat, grease, and noise, and may have to work in cramped spaces. Sometimes the work is done in the electronic repair shop, which is generally located off the factory floor. Here, as well as in hospitals, military installations, and other job settings, the surroundings usually are quiet, clean, and well lighted. Electronics repairers usually work with little supervision.
Employment in manufacturing establishments generally entails considerable walking, kneeling, bending, and reaching to install or repair equipment.
Electronics repairers held about 84,500 jobs in 1990. About 1 out of 4 repairers are employed by the Federal Government; the overwhelming majority of these work for the Department of Defense--mostly at military installations around the country.
Repairers are also employed by electronic and transportation equipment manufacturers, airports, telephone companies, and hospitals, electronic repair shops and firms that provide maintenance under contract (called third-party maintenance firms).
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Commercial and industrial electronic equipment repairers need training in the practical application of electronics. Required courses include electronics theory and technology, preventive maintenance, and trouble-shooting techniques. Most repairers attend either a public, private, or Armed Forces technical school. Some receive training through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program administered by employers. High school graduates who have had courses in mathematics and science are preferred for the apprenticeship program.
Electronics repairers need good color vision, manual dexterity, and good eye-hand coordination. They should have an aptitude for mathematics and be able to do detailed work. Other qualifications include a good memory, recordkeeping ability, the ability to do repetitive tasks, and physical strength.
Repairers who test and repair radio transmitting equipment, other than career and land mobile radio, must hold a General Operators License from the Federal Communications Commission.
There is also a voluntary program for the testing and certification of repairers administered by the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET). An electronics repairers with 4 years' experience may apply for certification as a Certified Electronics Technician (CET). Certification, which is by examination, is offered in radio-TV, industrial and commercial repair, audio, and radar systems. There is also an Associate Level Test of basic electronics available for students or beginning repairers who do not have the experience required for full certification.
Some workers advance to electronics technicians or engineering assistants. Opportunities for advancement are improved by taking courses offered by employers, junior colleges, or technical schools.
Employment of commercial and industrial electronic equipment repairers is expected to increase about as fast as average for all occupations through the year 2000. Employment in non-Defends industries is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations; because of cuts in the Defense Department budget, no employment growth is expected in this occupation in the Federal Government. In private industry, it is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. To boost productivity, more and more career and industrial firms are expected to install electronic equipment. In addition, more electronic equipment will be used in medicine, energy conservation, and pollution control. Besides employment growth, many job openings will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Beginning commercial and industrial electronic equipment repairers started at between $16,650 and $20,800 a year in 1990, according to the limited information available. Experienced repairers earned from $20,800 to $24,975 while highly skilled specialists who can work on more than one type of equipment earned as much as $38,100 a year.
Average annual salaries of repairers who were employed by the Federal Government in 1990 was $29,120.
Other occupations in which workers repair electronic equipment include home appliance and power tool repairers, office machine and cash register servicers, computer service technicians, and electronic home entertainment equipment repairers.
Sources of Additional Information
For career and certification information, contact:
The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians, 2708 West Berry St., Fort Worth, Texas 76109.
For certification, career, and placement information, contact:
Electronics Technicians Association, 825 East Franklin, Greencastle, Ind. 46135.