Electronic home entertainment equipment and repair work is an in demand field that involves both hands on work in the field and in repair shops. It is suited to individuals with an interest in electronics as well as a desire to work in a less high pressure environment than industrial electrical/electronic installation and repair. The field does not pay as well as industrial work of the same general nature, but the decreased stress and pleasure of dealing with residential customers often seen as a source of added job satisfaction that makes up for the lower salary.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the current median hourly wage of home electronics technicians at $15.54. According to the Bureau the median 50% make between $12.11 and $19.88, and the bottom and top 10% make $9.93 and $24.39 respectively. Expressed as yearly salary the median is 190 $32,320, the median 50% range is from $25,190 to $41,350, and the bottom and top 10% are $20,650 and $50,720 respectively. In short, wages for this career are low to moderate as far as skilled technical professions go. It thus makes sense for a technician to think in terms of advancing fairly quickly in the profession in order to secure the best wage rates.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Professionals in the field install and repair mainly audio and video equipment used in home entertainments systems. They may install satellite TV dishes, simple cable access, large projection screen televisions, more sophisticated stereo systems, remote control DVD players, and so on. Sometimes they specialize in particular products or types of products, such as, for instance, satellite radio installation. Alternatively they may have a generalized skill base that allows them to install a variety of products and components.
As in other areas of the electrical/electronics field, a distinction is drawn between field technicians and shop technicians: Field technicians travel to the (usually home) location and perform installation, maintenance, or repair onsite. They carry basic, portable tools such as wrenches, drills, screwdrivers, wire cutters and so on. All home installations are, obviously, performed by field technicians. They also perform onsite repairs when this is possible, which it often is. For these types of jobs they also use diagnostic tools such as multimeters.
Bench technicians perform repairs at a shop location. Such shops may be located at a dealership that sells the specific home entertainment system(s) or may be part of an electronic repair firm that specializes in service on a wide variety of items and components. When repairs are too extensive to be undertaken at a home location, equipment must be brought back to a shop that has more complete tools. They are then usually returned to the home for reinstallation by a field technician.
The job outlook for this career is promising – the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects it to grow about as fast as other occupations and predicts an 11% growth rate by 2018. This career is based on consumer demand for various technologies, so as new equipment evolves and comes into the buying range of the average consumer, demand will continue to expand.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
It is possible to start at an entry level experience in this field without prior experience, but often applicants have training in electronics installation and repair. There are many such programs offered at technical schools, community colleges, and career/vocational schools. Some offer specializations in home entertainment systems while others give general training in basic electronics. Employers look favorably on individuals with an electronics background. Those with such a background may need to become more focused on the specific products they are installing, and this more in depth and specialized knowledge is often gained by working closely with professionals already well versed in the field.
Thus, a large part of the educational process occurs at the field and shop level as installers apprentice with field technicians or work as assistants in electronics repair shops. The field experience also gives a new technician a feel for customer service skills which are an important part of the work since field techs spend a large portion of their time in customers’ homes. Even in the case of shop work, customer service comes into play because customers want their equipment repaired and reinstalled in a timely fashion and with a friendly attitude.
There are a number of certifications offered in home entertainment equipment installation and repair, but one of the most widely accepted is offered by the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) – the Residential Electronics Systems Integrator certification . The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians also offers a well known certification. These organizations administer examinations which on successful completion, and the satisfaction of various other stipulations such as a certain amount of field experience, result in certification.
In addition to these specialized programs, individuals may wish to move on to 2 or 4 year degrees in electronics installation and repair. These degrees will qualify them for more advanced work in electronics, but they may still work in the home entertainment field if they wish. They will be better suited however to positions such as shop supervisors and managers.
Certification is, as is usually the case, an advantage as far as employment prospects go. It allows employers to get a clear sense of the level of an applicant and to be certain that they have met minimum standards accepted in the industry.
The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA), and The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians, mentioned above, are two prominent trade associations in the field. There are also a wide range of others both on the international and local levels.
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