From Technician To Engineer (C) 2003 Hank Wallace. But I got my A and avoided about 2,000 miles on the road! Example: You want to be a bridge designer, you go work as a laborer, or better yet a concrete technician, or office engineer on a bridge construction project. There are many shades of engineering work. As they progress in their work experience and knowledge, many NDT technicians find themselves also developing inspection procedures. The best aid to learning to think as an engineer is being mentored by one. So, if you have a degree in physics with loads of electronic experience, that is attractive in several fields of applied science. I applied and was granted an interview. If he does not earn the title [the way I did it] [the canonical way] [by paying his dues], the he does not deserve the title.”. That is, he was practically an accessory to cheating. As an engineer, it will be much more difficult to get hands on work in the automotive industry. What can one do? My brother was a PhD candidate at Humongous University years ago. Don’t we all feel better now? That’s where many engineers fall short, and where others excel to the level of superhuman reputation. They provide technical assistance in designing and testing the fiber optics. You see, most of these liberal arts professors could no more do a math problem than change their oil. — my first research topic), safety issues (UL, CSA, VDE toenail clipper regs), regulatory issues (FDA, FCC), and marketing requirements. First, employers are mainly looking for solutions to real problems. Plastics engineers, for example, may develop ways to produce clear, durable plastics to … Harry was the jack of all trades. An electrical engineer on the other hand is typically educated in a college or university, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology (more on that later), or a related area. But with a multitude of tech jobs and companies clambering for your talent, it may feel overwhelming to determine a solid starting point.. On the upside, that means odds are in your favor. Technician Vipperman considers becoming an engineer. Several universities offer this degree, directly transferring Associate’s Degree work from junior colleges. Are you kidding? The problems that gave me difficulty I brought to the professor. Part of a mechanical engineer's job is to design things so that they can be efficiently, inexpensively fabricated. In fact every sleeping moment was, too. Credit is awarded by your college on a pass/fail basis, and you can take the tests multiple times. Every waking moment was filled with radicals, valences, and shells. Tom was not an intellectual, but he was sharp. If you are an employee whom the boss cannot risk introducing to a customer because you speak poorly, that means your chances of getting an engineering job are much slimmer. Here, the process allowed you to become good and become known in the same movement. Engineering Technicians An engineering technician is the most practical of the professional engineering qualifications. That said, if you know for a fact that you want to work in a shop, on cars, and repair/modify/tune cars, then becoming a mechanic is pretty much the option you need to take. The exams are given monthly or quarterly in most colleges. A successful career in technology begins with scouting out some awesome entry-level IT jobs. Find your area of interest and excel in it. With distance learning, we should be needing less real estate, not more. In general, you can expect to study subjects like Engineering Service and Statistics, Engineering Economy, Materials Science, Technical Writing, Design & Automation, Thermodynamics, Mathematics, Engineering Analysis, etc. With only little experience, your education will determine the best job you can get in industry. Thus, you will find that scientists and mathematicians look down upon engineers as lacking theoretical background just as engineers look down on technicians in that way. These steps indicate extreme commitment on your part to the engineering career path. Don’t waste your money on a non-accredited degree. Good! You can stand out among engineers by learning two simple skills: writing and speaking. Your background gives you an excellent advantage because in most areas you will be adding to what you already know, though in some areas you will be breaking new ground. Find out what else you'll need to become an engineer. Engineers tend to go to work applying the science and mathematics knowledge to solve problems and design processes and products. Generally, technicians and engineers are not in competition unless it is on the ball field. You might even get the title before you are ready. From the outset I am assuming that you want to be an engineer for the right reason — you love electronics. But any fully accredited school has some options for compressing your education. Those who want to work as engineering technicians should have at least an associate degree in engineering technology, although some employers will hire candidates who don't have formal training. Just to establish my position before the flame emails start pouring in, I think that the best route to the title ‘engineer’ is the BSEE degree. During the three-year programme, you'll be employed and study a postgraduate master's degree at university. You need to add to that the theoretical base that enables you to think in general terms and be more creative. I recently graduated with a bachelors in biomedical engineering and was just offered to work as an electro mechanical technician. As an engineer, waiting for a technician to come back from vacation to wire up a prototype will kill your schedule. That kills some time, but on the other hand I get a private tutorial with an expert in the field, and I usually end up exploring some work related area that interests me such as error detecting and correcting codes. We worked in an IC test facility in a defense firm, testing all the ICs used on the various projects. An engineering degree is also an excellent background for other careers. Many universities offer EE courses online and post their requirements and assignments on the web. Remember, engineering is not just another job, but a different way of thinking. However, there are some drawbacks. It pays to get the degree, if you can. For example, future electrical engineering technicians will take classes in electrical circuits, microprocessors, and digital electronics. Research the requirements to become an energy engineer. They have been operating a large adult degree program for over twenty years. Another option is the CLEP, or College Level Examination Program. He had the propensity to phase out of human contact when pondering an answer to a question, sometimes for 15 minutes or more. Some companies also pay educational expenses toward a degree. The second boost for your career is public speaking. Sometimes this mentoring thing is formal, most often not. On another front, the geek engineer stereotype exists for a reason: it is true. Which subjects will help me become an engineer? That darn food chain. Though engineers have some coursework in the pure sciences, (chemistry, physics, biology) and considerable coursework in math, the engineering curriculum is considered ‘applied’ by the scientific community. These people were always available to answer my questions, some of them pretty lame. Compare those programs with the popular electronics technician program from DeVry. When determining what will transfer and what won’t, deal only with an admissions counselor who has the authority to sign the transfer forms. The degree gets you just enough book learning to qualify you to burn up real components on a company payroll, and that’s frightening. This allows mature people to take courses remotely, either through the mail, via email, over the web, or using videos or other technologies. (I like to write and read so it was no big deal for me.) I have known many technicians who have in-depth knowledge about one or more areas and that has landed them good jobs in engineering. These support people could be working engineers, professors you know personally, or other resources like family or the Internet. Shooting for the top of the class? Seeing as you already have some college credit from your tech schooling (even if only physed), you need to take the fastest, least expensive way to your goal: graduation. They often work side-by-side on projects and their job functions commonly overlap. An engineer extends that knowledge in real time to get the job done. A technician typically has a two-year Associates degree from a junior college, or a technical degree or certificate from a military, trade or specialized training school. Notice that most of these skills require a measure of what you already know as a technician. The first thing you need to do to become an engineer is to get a degree in electrical engineering. Don’t let me down here. They worked on interesting projects and worked for the brightest staff engineers, a big bonus. You may be surprised, but engineering and technician educations are different from the ground up. There are several study guides and web sites dedicated to PE licensure. You need to ask a college counselor to be sure. If you have that, you can be anything you want (within the law). The CLEP exams cover a wide range of subjects, mostly the basics taught in freshman and sophomore classes. I could tell you horrific and humorous stories about new-grad engineers who were too big for their britches. Land a job as a Network Technician/Admin or in Technical Sales. Yes, but derive maximum advantage from your summer construction work experience it should be as closely related to the field you plan to work in when you graduate. You can search our database of engineering internships without registering an account, though you should if you intend to post a resume or apply directly to a company. Well, maybe just the title. The second reason to earn a non-EE degree is that the most convenient technical degree may not be EE. That plus a well thought out plan of action has launched many a successful engineering career. Hello? They can make your life a … You don’t have to use the word ‘mentor’ with this person, but you will know him when you find him (or her). You were not born knowing physics or dynamics of rigid bodies, and neither was I. I had to say that to satisfy many readers because there are those who say “You’re not an engineer unless your degree says so.” Unfortunately, in the real world everyone from trash collectors to train drivers are called engineers, but the devaluation of the title is another discussion. And you will no doubt meet some savvy, affable professors who will more than make up for the dorks. Also, technicians moving up to engineer are not paid as well in some cases. However, engineers must be aware of the theoretical design details of each electronic component to fulfill their design duties to the fullest. The day of the first test, the hall was full. Industrial Engineering Technician: Job Description and Requirements Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an industrial engineering technician. I assume that you would never stoop to such dishonor. Let’s say you have enrolled part or full time in a local engineering school. Rather than argue with this goofball, I cracked the lock myself and did the work at home. You must be tactful. But beware that all respectable institutions have a requirement that you earn all credits for your last one to two years directly from them. The course format resulted in a lot less driving (bicycling actually) and zero opportunity to forget the material before the exam. The benefit to you is no wasted time sitting in traffic to and from class, and no wasted time in lecture while the professor proceeds at the speed of the slowest student. Oddly, DL is being accepted faster by students than by administrators. In my city, several local colleges and universities, along with local government, have taken an old office building and rennovated it into classrooms and offices to the tune of $12 million. It does not mean, however, that you should not become an engineer. Engineer. If you want to become an engineer, studying maths and physics at A-level is often essential, while budding chemical engineers should pursue chemistry. That is a general thinker. Built on the latest technologies, businesses can track the engineer’s right from their fingertips. Where do paper clips come from? You have a great future ahead. So I thanked him for his time, walked back across the hall, put on my bunny suit and continued my engineering work at an engineer’s pay. Doing the dirty deed is a batch of courses designed to put students through the ringer. Engineering careers are very sensitive to initial conditions, however, and the choices you make now will shape your career. The old guard thinks of education as requiring bricks and mortar, chairs and chalk. I did not include in the list the basic requirements of any job. They generally have a desire to want to make our world a better place to live and work. Why are BSETs disrespected in some companies? However, the program would only run on a PC (new at the time), and the source was locked to prevent students from changing the simulator. Don’t do it. The BSET curriculum is typically not as mathematically rigorous as the straight EE program. I have known some BSET grads who were the equal of any EE. The military used to teach electron flow instead of conventional current flow, and that was one point of confusion for some techs. As a technician, you already know how to solve difficult problems in electronics. As the technician becomes more knowledgeable about the work he or she is doing, they may take on new responsibilities that include things like designing tests, and they are often given an engineering title by their company. The day of the interview, I was working on the wafer probing system as usual, so I just took off my bunny suit, walked across the hall and introduced myself. If this happens to you, start working fast on your knowledge base because you are in a very dangerous position. What about the BSET (BS in Engineering Technology)? With these courses, you do the work and study on your own, reading texts and papers, and writing papers or doing other projects to demonstrate your command of the material. They take basic science information and use the rules of mathematics to solve problems and design new products. Some students look forward to taking the summer off. I was working with another contractor on a job for a large company. In one large company I worked for, the company sponsored engineering students received some great special treatment. There was a simulator program that some grad student had written so we could ‘execute’ programs on this mythical machine. Isn’t there always a bigger fish in the pond? I will have to disagree. People who have a particular area of interest find the best researchers in that field and attend the school where that work is being done. You are going to need a lot of experience, study and qualified industry references, though. The market says $60,000, but the budget says $45,000. Frequently these have no punctuation, poor grammar, use Internet abbreviations, or lack meaning and context. I was working with another contractor on a job for a large company. I figured the kids were sharing their notes. IT service engineers install and repair computer systems and equipment. Go for it! They get the job done, regardless the problem. Talk about surprised! I did a quick Internet search and got more hits than I could investigate in a week. Most of the courses I have taken have been of the independent study format, though also offered are tutorials that consist of a dozen or so students. “It [burns my biscuits] [toasts my transistors] [makes me really mad] that some [low life] [ignorant] [gen-x] [low IQ] [calculator toting] technician could be called engineer without having the proper education. When I was a tech, I thought in specifics: measurements, data, procedures, troubleshooting. Of course, lab courses require the student to be on-site, unless you enjoy dissecting frogs on the kitchen table. So I'm going to be graduating in two weeks as an Applied Physics and Engineering major. Dissing one area in favor of another is like the foot snubbing the hand. According to the US Department of Labor, there were approximately 519,000 engineering support technicians working in the US in 2000. (Does the military still teach that?) Many engineers are geeks, having meager social and communications skills. Technician Versus Engineer. For example, you have to show up on time, be diligent at your work, and have a smile for the boss and your coworkers. Because engineering courses enhance creativity, problem solving skills, and understanding of technology, they provide a strong foundation for further studies in medicine, law, business, dentistry, and almost any other field. Since I have just dissed half my readers, who then has my encouragement? 3. When a professor sees that a student’s notebook contains 50 pages of problems and solutions for each chapter of the text, that is a big bonus at grading time, but you are probably not going to need that extra point between the B and A because you already aced the course. Do some research and see whether this step makes sense for you. He gave me the electronics bug. On the other hand, if you are a technician looking for an easy title upgrade, you do not have my encouragement, either. There is nothing worse than an EE who doesn’t know basic science, and there is nothing better than an EE who knows where electronics fits in the big picture, with the ability to converse in other disciplines. Characteristics and actions of a good engineer. Your training and experience as a technician is an excellent starting point. (You won’t lend much prestige to the staff with only a BS, whatever your specialty, so count that factor out.) Say the employer has an engineering position open, one that does not require a lot of theoretical knowledge. I did it right inside a company that refused to hire non-degreed engineers. It turned out that the job they had in mind for me was not test engineer (as advertised), but a technician job calibrating scopes and meters. You cannot conclude that Shakespeare was a loser, but you can conclude that one of his characters is a remarkable archetype of a modern societal role, say, the uniformed businessman loser. I asked the professor if I could do a project instead of driving 40 miles one-way to class and he agreed, but on the condition that he could name the project. That hole is filled with more study in computer hardware and software. Many do it every year, and in many ways. In the medical industry technicians use very sophisticated equipment and techniques to analyze body fluids and tissue at the request of the doctor. It may be math or computer science or physics, depending on local course offerings, what will transfer from your past education, and how wealthy you are. You start with what you know, and being aware of areas of basic science as a result of your education, you know what questions to ask to get to the next step in the process. Technicians tend to start their careers performing tests, collecting data, and assisting engineers. Assuming you are a technician, what additional background do you need? Plastics Engineer and Plastics Technician Job Description Plastics engineers perform a wide variety of duties depending on the type of company they work for and the products it produces. As a working tech you already have developed these skills. Your core exhortations to techs to earn a BSEE are noted, applauded, and admirable. I worked [hard] [really hard] [super mega hard] in engineering school [sleeping only 4 hours a night] [holding down two jobs] [flipping burgers] [being a co-op student]. I asked the professor if I could get the source so I could run it on MBASIC on my CP/M-80 machine at home, to which he replied, “MBASIC?” It was obvious that he had no clue as to how the simulator worked or in what language it was written. See? That strategy is the frontal attack. I have been handed reports by engineers that I had to repair grammatically before passing on to the boss. If I were to make a choice I would say be an engineer but learn from the technicians. The last topic I want to cover here is distance learning. These are not just engineering courses but are sprinkled liberally throughout each curriculum, usually in the first year. In the next section, we will define the terms engineer and technician, and after that we will look at what an engineer needs to know and do, and how to get from here to there. This article series is for techs who desire the title and responsibilities of engineer, and are willing to put in the hard work to obtain it. Companies also look to broaden their base of expertise. Colleges are realizing that busy adults want an education but the cost is just too high to quit work and go back to school. The main difference between the engineering and technician curriculums is the theoretical development of the material. Plumbers do it, why shouldn’t we?). I once took a course in rudimentary assembly language programming. Students can expect to take courses in college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science. There is no such thing as digital vs. analog, software vs. hardware, engineering vs. science. The implied second thing is experience, which will be covered later. The quality of education varies widely among technicians, depending on where they train. Five years of experience in the field are necessary to take the exam, and having the certification can make audio engineers more appealing as job candidates in some circumstances. Distance learning (DL) is growing. Certification: It's not often necessary to earn certification, but the Society of Broadcast Engineers offers an exam to become a certified audio engineer (CEA). Travel time and expense is reduced or eliminated, and other costs such as child care are avoided. What’s more, the exam will cost you only a fraction of what the college course costs (about $55 per three semester hours where I took them). The sheepskin is no fun if it comes with divorce papers. Experience is not the only factor in such a transition, but the education comes not in a classroom. You are being paid $35,000 as a tech. But if you can’t, leverage your experience to gain the title. In reality, there are many flavors of electrical engineer, many with respect to both education and experience. More than 1.2 million engineers work in the United States today, making engineering the nations second largest profession. Keep in mind that the initial education is only the first step in becoming an engineer. Let me assure you, poorly formed communications make you look like an idiot, and the world has enough of those already! So be willing to do volunteer work at a company, try to find a part-time job as a helper or volunteer or whatever – it’s not relevant to making money but more towards preparing you for the actual professional job of engineering. They are trained, experienced, and knowledgeable, and are looking to help fix customer issues to the satisfaction of the client. I always did well in college, but I had many friends who struggled and received in response only a stern rebuke from a professor when what they really needed was encouragement. For example, being able to write quality, working software and get it running on a system is a valuable skill. I have heard often that the best engineers are the ones who were first technicians. I also understand something about radio. Either the student learns to study and survive, or he drops out. Take advantage of this by writing papers that challenge the status quo. Technicians usually start their careers in NDT performing tests that follow an established procedure. The difference is … Automotive technicians are trained to diagnose and fix car problems. The military trains many technicians and the ones I have worked with know their stuff pretty well. Engineers need to be good at maths and sciences as it is applied to a number of different engineering issues. Mechanical engineering technician Alternative titles for this job include Mechanical maintenance technician. The best place to start your inquiry is at the nearest college. Everybody’s happy, but you are making $20,000 less than a ‘real’ engineer. If you can take this track, go for it. Both NDT technicians and engineers with NDT backgrounds are in high demand by industry. He is an electronics guru and a professor in a junoir college, but was pursuing a doctorate in education. I hope that this series has helped you technicians out there in your quest to become engineers. I inquired about the discrepancy and the interviewer politely told me that I could not be considered for an engineering position because I had no four-year engineering degree.