What is an Engineering Technician?

February 17, 2021
Do you enjoy solving problems? What about conducting experiments or collecting data? If so, a career as an engineering technician may be for you!

This field covers a lot of ground, so it’s important to know the specific niches involved. Keep reading to learn more about the different areas of engineering technology and the job opportunities involved.

What is Engineering Technology?

Engineering technology calls for the practical application of science, math, and engineering to a wide range of problems.

It is how we transform theory into real-world, working solutions. The process demands design, analysis, research, and development.

The subject can be broken up into four main branches: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. Smaller branches include aerospace, agricultural, automotive, biological, computer, environmental, industrial, and manufacturing.

Check out this article to learn about the different career opportunities associated with mechanical engineering technology.

Each branch depends on a team of professionals who can conceive, produce, and maintain technological solutions to specific problems their industries are facing.

What Does an Engineering Technician Do?

An engineering technician works alongside a qualified team of engineers and technologists to ensure all machinery used to bring a design to life remains functional and working.

Just as there are several branches of engineering technology, there are many different types of engineering technicians. Check out the list below to learn more about their titles and responsibilities.

Electronics Engineering Technician

electrical engineering professional conducting research and development

Electronics engineering technicians assist electrical and electronics engineers in designing and developing electronic equipment, including computers, communication equipment, monitoring devices, and navigational equipment.

An electronics technician will often find work in manufacturing settings, research laboratories, engineering services, or the federal government. According to the BLS, electronics engineering technicians enjoy an annual median salary of $65,260.

Mechanical Engineering Technician

Mechanical engineering technicians specialize in the building and maintenance of mechanical devices. These individuals typically find work in factories or development labs before manufacturing takes place.

The job title may require individuals to evaluate design drawings for new or changed news, prepare layouts for parts that need to be made, review instructions and blueprints for products, assist with test equipment calibration, and conduct tests for new components.

Examples of products they may work on include refrigerators, HVAC systems, elevators, and electric generators.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mechanical engineering technicians will enjoy a job growth of 3 percent between 2019 and 2019. Full-time technicians typically enjoy a median salary of $56,980 per year.

You can check out the video below to learn more about a career as a mechanical engineering technician:

Industrial Engineering Technician

Like the position listed above, industrial engineering technicians are responsible for developing essential products in machines.

Unlike mechanical engineering technicians, they are also tasked with finding ways to make the production process less wasteful, most efficient, and cost-effective.

This may include managing and tracking inventory to order new materials, assisting with cost analyses, or helping out with the shipping and receiving process for raw materials and parts.

These individuals may find work across a variety of organizations, firms, and businesses. They may also work in industries including business, marketing, healthcare, and service. According to the BLS, industrial engineering technicians enjoy a median salary of $56,550 per year.

Civil Engineering Technician

Civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers with planning, designing, and developing various infrastructure for both the public and private sectors. Projects may revolve around bridges, highways, tunnels, dams, airports, and more.

Job duties include evaluating preconstruction field site conditions, reading and reviewing project drawings and plans, and operating computer-aided software as per the engineer’s instructions. According to the BLS, civil engineering technicians enjoy an annual median salary of $53,410.

CAD Technician

CAD technicians use computer-aided software to convert designers produced by engineers and architects into technical drawings. These individuals may work across a variety of industries, including architecture, construction, manufacturing, and animation.

Cad technicians may also be expected to input design specifications into CAD software, make adjustments to existing CAD models, and complete job reports. According to the BLS, CAD technicians enjoy a median salary of $56,830 per year.

Chemical Engineering Technician

career as a chemical engineering tech

A chemical engineering technician typically works in a laboratory or plant environment under the direction of a chemical engineer. They may be assigned a variety of tasks, including carrying out experiments, chemical processes, or performing inventory.

They are also expected to ensure work areas are clean and meet relative safety standards. Good oral and written communication skills are a must.

Duties assigned to a chemical engineering technician largely revolve around research, manufacturing, and development. According to the BLS, chemical engineering technicians enjoy a median salary of $49,260.

Technician vs. Engineer

Though engineering technicians alongside engineers, they have markedly different responsibilities. Engineers must obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher to land a position. They may need additional licenses and certifications to advance.

Engineers tend to focus on practical mathematics, applied science, and specific engineering techniques. Their process revolves around identifying solutions to real-world problems and conducting the analysis needed to confirm it is a feasible idea.

It is the technician’s job to assist the engineer along the way. Specific duties include collecting materials, running tests, recording data, and ensuring all machines are functional and working throughout the development process.

How Can I Become an Engineering Technician?

Engineering technicians must achieve a minimum of an associate degree. To enroll in these programs, individuals must have already obtained a high school diploma or equivalent.

These programs typically take around two years to complete, though certain schools may offer expedited or flexible schedules.

Engineering technician programs should be accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

These programs will introduce math courses like college algebra, calculus, and physics. They may also incorporate courses on computer-aided design, fundamentals of construction, computer science, and more. Specific program listings will vary depending on the concentration.

Read this article to find out the difference between mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology.

Engineering technician programs will also help individuals develop critical thinking skills and gain the experience needed to land an entry-level position in the field.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, engineering technician jobs are on the rise. The organization suspects that engineering technicians will experience job growth at a rate of 1-3 percent. As more industries continue to lean on technology and development to secure their growth, that number will likely increase.

Data suggests that the best-paying cities for engineering technicians are San Francisco, CA, Washington, DC, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Edison, NJ, and San Antonio, TX.

Engineering technicians are also in a great position to develop their careers. After a few years of experience on the job, they will have gained the experience and knowledge needed to pursue more advanced degrees and job types.

The next step an engineering technician may take to advance their career is to enroll in a four-year bachelor’s degree program to earn an engineering degree. This will expand their job responsibilities, help them stand out to potential employees, and increase their earning potential.

Other potential titles include production manager, manufacturing manager, or engineering director.

While the majority of engineering technicians identify as male, there is an increasing number of females breaking into the field. According to the job-seeking platform Zippia, just under 15 percent of individuals working as engineering technicians identify as female.

FAQ

What does an engineering technician do?

Engineering technicians work as part of a team alongside engineers and technologists. They must assist these individuals in solving problems and designing products.

Their day-to-day tasks revolve around performing tests, collecting data, assembling equipment, and recording performance.

Do engineering technicians make good money?

According to the BLS, engineering technicians can earn anywhere from $55-65,000 annually. This number pertains to full-time employees only.

How do you become an engineering technician?

The easiest way to become an engineering technician is to earn a two-year associate degree in your desired field. To apply, you must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. These programs are usually offered at community colleges or technical schools.

Is an engineering technician an engineer?

An engineering technician should not be confused with an engineer. An engineering technician’s role is to assist engineers with the development of a new product or solution.

Engineering technicians may be asked to run tests, record data, collect materials, or fix parts. Unlike engineering technicians, engineers have graduated from a bachelor’s degree program or higher.