If you are interested in the electronics field, you have many opportunities to explore your interests and aptitudes for this type of work. Joining a science or electronics club and participating in competitions provide hands-on activities and experiences related to different facets of electronics. You might also build electronic kits, take apart radios and television sets (be sure to work with an experienced electronics service technician when trying this), or test your repair abilities on discarded appliances. Reading electronics magazines is another way to explore the wide field of electronics and learn about specific types of technology, such as digital and telecommunications technologies.
Another way to learn about the actual work electronics service technicians do is to talk with people working in the field. Local electronics service technicians are usually willing to share their experience and knowledge with interested young people. Owners of stores or repair shops may be especially helpful with the business aspects of a career in this field. Summer employment as a helper or a delivery person can provide an opportunity to observe the day-to-day activities of technicians.
You can also request information from schools that offer training in electronics and other related fields to find out what kind of programs are available. Local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and local offices of the state employment service can also supply information about training opportunities as well as the employment outlook in a specific area.
Electronics service technicians service and repair consumer electronics products, such as television sets, DVD players, radios, and audio recording equipment, as well as garage door openers, microwave ovens, and kitchen appliances. Some electronics service technicians work on personal computers and peripheral equipment. Others may service home security systems, smart thermostats, antennas, satellite reception equipment, electronic organs, and amplifying equipment for other electrified musical instruments.
Technicians may service equipment that is working properly. They also diagnose and repair malfunctioning equipment. They usually begin by gathering information from customers about the problems they are having with their equipment. Because today's consumer electronics are so sophisticated, often the consumer simply does not know how to operate the machine. After talking with the customer, the technician makes a preliminary inspection of the equipment. This inspection may reveal a loose connection or other simple problem, and the technician may be able to complete repairs quickly. In other cases, a problem may be more complicated and may require that the equipment be taken to a shop for more thorough testing and the installation of new components.
Electronics service technicians are classified as inside or outside technicians, although some work as both inside and outside technicians. Outside, or field, technicians make service calls on customers, gather information, and make preliminary examinations of malfunctioning equipment. They may also install new equipment. An inside technician works in a shop, where he makes more thorough examinations of problems using testing equipment and hand tools such as pliers and socket wrenches to dismantle sets and make repairs. He uses testing equipment such as voltage meters, oscilloscopes, signal generators, monitor testers, analyzers, and frequency counters.
Some of the tasks that both inside and outside technicians perform include reading service manuals and wiring diagrams, operating testing equipment, replacing defective parts, installing solid-state electronic components, making adjustments in electronic controls, cutting and connecting wires, and soldering metal components together. Technicians also write reports about the service or repairs done and calculate bills for parts and labor costs.
The servicing of other kinds of electronic equipment, such as surround-sound audio systems and DVD recorders, requires special knowledge of their components. Electronics technicians learn about such special areas and keep up with new developments in electronics by attending short courses given by manufacturers at their factories, by factory technicians at local shops, or through professional associations.
Another area of specialization is computer service and repair. Computer service technicians specialize in installing, servicing, and repairing computers and related equipment such as printers. They need to be familiar with the many components and assemblies making up a computer and be able to advise people on the necessary equipment needed to upgrade systems. They may also advise consumers on compatible equipment they can add to their existing equipment in order to allow new functions, such as wireless routers that connect portable and handheld devices to the Internet.