December 1971 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
magazine ran a monthly series titled, "Opportunity Awareness" that addressed issues on
continuing education, networking, and job performance as a means of advancing one's
career. Fundamentally, nothing has changed in that aspect; however, the specialty
areas for various levels of education and experience has shifted from where they were
in 1971 when this chart was created. Host David Heiserman often fielded questions
submitted by readers. As one who spent many nights sitting in evening college
classes while working on an Associate's degree, a Bachelor's degree, and a few
credits toward a Master's degree, I can relate to the guy who wrote about taking
night courses in an effort to get into the electronics field. I was already working
in the electronics field as a technician who wanted to be an engineer, and definitely
benefitted from years of practical, hands-on experience with circuits and systems -
especially when it came to performing laboratory exercises.
Opportunity Awareness - Thoughtful Reflections on Your Future
Twentieth in a Monthly Series by David L. Heiserman
Experience Helps - Even in the Classroom
I am an insurance salesman during the day and attend a two-year technical college
in the evening. I get good grades in every subject except my major - electronics. I seem
to be at a disadvantage because I don't have a job in electronics; the fellows who do
get all the top grades. Any suggestions?
• Get to work building some of the projects that appear in Popular Electronics
- and that's not just a plug for the magazine. Buy some kits and put them together. Try
fixing that broken radio, TV, or record player that you stored away somewhere. The idea
is to get some of the experience that the other guys have.
Of course, you aren't alone with this problem. A good share of the students enrolled
in evening technical colleges are already working in the field of their choice. They
are in school (often at their employer's expense) to upgrade their knowledge. It isn't
that they are smarter or already know everything about electronics theory; but by working
every day with electronics problems, they have a chance to apply what they learned the
night before. All of your knowledge and experience with electronics is coming from textbooks
and a few artificial situations in the laboratory. These are no substitute for practical
So, unless you are willing to give up your present job to take one in electronics,
you'll have to create your own opportunities for applying what you are learning. Build
some projects, assemble some kits, and try fixing some electronic devices. Obviously
you are already very busy; but you can find the time if you think of it as a vital part
of your learning process. When you suddenly find theories making more sense and see your
grades inching up, you'll realize it was worth the extra trouble and expense.
Adapted from an IEEE publication, this chart
shows the education levels required for various
positions in electronics. Note that
the job categories overlap on education levels.
Education for Jobs in Electronics
Would you please publish a complete summary of the principal jobs in electronics and
the amount of education required for each?
• We have received a number of requests of this type; but, since a full treatment
of the subject would most likely fill an entire issue of the magazine, we've had to tackle
the job piecemeal. Since a picture can say a thousand (or more) words, we've come up
with a chart that gives a fairly complete idea in a small space.
The chart, adapted from an IEEE bulletin entitled "Your Challenge in Electrical Engineering,"
shows fourteen main job classifications for technicians and engineers working in electronics
today. The horizontal bars indicate the amount of education required for each job. As
an example of how to use the chart, a lab technician should have at least a little bit
of technical school training and, preferably, a couple of years of college. By contrast,
a consultant must have at least a bachelor's degree and, preferably, some graduate training
at the PhD level.
Electronics-Industrial & Communications
Relative numbers of technicians working in six different areas and
four kinds of jobs.
I am a first-year student in a two-year technical college, majoring in electronics.
Next year I have to decide whether to specialize in communications or industrial electronics.
There are a number of industrial electronics firms in my home town, but I would like
to know more about opportunities in communications electronics, and the difference between
There are some big differences between industrial and communications electronics:
in the equipment, in the design problems, and, when you get right down to it, in the
basic philosophies. Even though a technician may have a lot of training and years of
experience in industrial electronics, for in- stance, he will most likely have to take
some home study courses in communications be- fore he can qualify for a job in that field.
Thus, electronics technicians have a tendency to go into either industrial or communications
electronics and stay there. This means that your decision to be made next year is an
The two charts show the relative numbers of electronics technicians now employed in
industrial and communications electronics. They also show three main areas of specialization
within the two major fields; and, furthermore, they show the relative numbers of technicians
working al four different kinds of jobs within each specialty. By studying the charts,
which represent a fairly complete and accurate occupational profile for electronics technicians
in the U.S., you may be able to get a better idea of the kind of electronics work that
interests you and determine the range of opportunities available.
In communications electronics, there are three main areas of specialization: consumer
electronics, broadcasting, and military electronics. The first includes the whole world
of electronic equipment, for the home: TV and radio receivers, audio equipment, and a
host of other minor gadgets that use electronic parts and circuits. Broadcasting represents
the other end of the communications link-TV and radio transmitting equipment and sound
recording systems. Today, most technicians working in communications electronics have
jobs somehow related to radio, radar, navigation or guidance systems for military use.
Specialization in industrial electronics includes: measurement and control instruments,
computers, and industrial power equipment. Most of the work in measurement and control
involves sensors, activators, and logic systems for industrial automation. Computer specialization
deals with digital systems for business, industry and scientific research; while the
relatively new industrial power specialization includes emergency standby power systems,
inverters, and many different kinds of high -power control de- vices.
The four job divisions within each area of specialization give you some idea of the
kind of work done. Research and development (R R: D) jobs involve planning, designing,
prototyping, and testing new electronic devices and circuits. The production jobs range
from assembly line work to testing and quality control. Maintenance and repair and operation
are concerned with actual equipment.
Although it is generally quite difficult to switch from industrial to communications
electronics, most technicians find it rather easy (and often desirable) to change specializations
within their field. And changing job titles within a given specialization is even easier
and more desirable-the latter because it generally means more responsibility and more
These charts show only the popularity of different kinds of jobs in electronics-not
the amount of training required or the going salaries. With the notable exception of
military communications electronics, jobs in communications generally pay less than those
in industrial electronics. And, because of the special skills required, R&D jobs
generally pay more than the other three.
Keep in mind that the charts represent the national picture-job opportunities for
electronics technicians vary widely from one part of the country to another.
Posted December 10, 2018