Engineering technicians work under the supervision of engineers and help with such tasks as setting up equipment, conducting experiments, collecting data and recording the results. Their designations, which parallel those of engineers, show their specialties. Examples include industrial engineering technician, mechanical engineering tech or civil engineering technician. Their salaries differ by job title.
With 150,020 positions, electrical engineering technicians showed the greatest number of technicians, as of May 2011. They received average pay of $57,240 per year, or $27.52 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They help develop computers, communications devices, navigational aids and other electronic equipment. Next for high employment were civil engineering technicians, with 71,890 professions, averaging $48,480 a year, or $23.31 per hour. They assist with the design of highways, bridges, airports and other infrastructure projects. Ranking third for employment were all other engineering technicians not individually mentioned by the BLS, including those specializing in automotive, petroleum and plastics industries. They comprised 65,030 jobs, with a mean annual salary of $59,900, or $28.80 per hour.
The highest-paid engineering technicians were those in aerospace engineering, at an annual mean $62,260, or $29.93 per hour. They help with the development and testing of aircraft and spacecraft. Next for pay were those not individual mentioned by the BLS, at $59,900 a year or $28.80 per hour, and electrical engineering technicians, at $57,240 per year, or $27.52 per hour. They were followed by those in mechanical engineering, averaging $52,810 annually, or $25.39 per hour. Mechanical engineering techs deal with engines and machines like household appliances and power plants, making them suitable for almost any manufacturing industry. Next were industrial engineering technicians, who received $51,850 a year, or $24.93 per hour. They look for ways to more effectively use materials in industrial settings. Ending the high pay list were environmental engineering techs, who received $48,910 annually, or $23.51 per hour. They set up, test and modify equipment that monitors, prevents or cleans up environmental pollution.
Though many manufacturing industries employed engineering technicians, one of the biggest employment categories belonged to architectural, engineering and related services. This category covered consultants who hired their services out to organizations that did not have adequate numbers of engineering technicians. It also included building inspection companies and testing laboratories. The largest numbers of technicians here were in civil engineering, with 32,950 workers averaging $48,240 annually, or $23.19 per hour. The highest paid technicians were those in aerospace engineering at an annual mean of $63,930, or $30.74 per hour. The lowest paid techs were those in environmental engineering, averaging $45,220, or $21.74 per hour.
All engineering technicians require a minimum associate’s degree in engineering technology. Programs take about two years to complete and are available at community colleges, technical institutes, vocational schools and the armed forces. Prerequisites include a high school diploma, algebra, trigonometry and basic science. Subjects of study depend on the technical specialty. For example, electrical engineering techs take courses in digital electronics and electric circuits. Voluntary certification is available from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies, typically requiring a written examination, job experience, a supervisory evaluation and a recommendation.