July 1969 Electronics World
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
Electronics World, published May 1959
- December 1971. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Would you work a 44-hour week for $127 (less after taxes are pulled out)? That's $6,600 per year, or $2.89 per hour for a highly skilled electronics technician in 1969. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator, the equivalent pay in 2017 would be $45,703.89 per year, or $19.98 per hour. A quick look at the current pay rate for an E4 (Sr. Airman, ~3 years of training and service) pay grade in the USAF is $2,139 per month ($25,668 per year). That does not factor in free housing, meals, and medical care (including for all dependents) - which has significant value. GlassDoor reports the average salary for an electronics technician in 2017 was $42,390. That amount is actually a bit lower than the 1969 average. Assuming the present day average is for a 40-hour week ($20.38 per hour), then adding another 4 hours of overtime at a x1.5 rate per labor law increases the total by $122.28 per week ($6,358.50 more per year), That makes an adjusted grand total average of $48,749 per year, which is a tad more than the 1969 average. Since these are all averages without standard deviations or even knowledge of the method and/or agenda (if any) of the reporter, it is probably safe to conclude that electronics technicians make today approximately what they made in 1969.
Your Friendly, Fading Technician
Where Do You Find Technicians?
That's the question most electronics-service-industry leaders are asking. new blood is hard to attract and harder to hold. Just as important is how to make present technicians more able and efficient. The answers take several directions.
The Electronic Industries Association is concentrating right now on vocational instructors and guidance counselors. Better instructors of servicing can stimulate more interest among students and turn out graduates better qualified to repair home electronics gear. And guidance counselors can influence students considering electronic careers. School systems can find out about this program for vocational instructors from EIA, 2001 Eye St., Washington, D.C. 20006.
National Electronic Associations is putting its effort into an improved apprentice program. New NEA director of apprenticeship is Charles Cave, 7902 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, Ky. 40291. He initiated the Louisville plan (this column, October 1968, page 6) whereby public-school vocational students go to class half- days and work in local shops half- days (for pay). The plan is so successful, shops are on a waiting list for the next class to start. With Cave, NEA is helping the Indiana Board of Education set up a similar program statewide.
To the Editors:
The present situation relative to TV shops closing down ("Radio & Television News" items in Feb. issue on "Old Service Shops Just Fade Away" and "Who Cares About Customers?") is attributable to too much work and too little pay. TV technicians earning $550.00 a month for a 44-hour week know they are underpaid. Increasing the work output is not the answer, for it cannot be increased beyond its prevailing level without lowering the quality and incurring the penalty of callbacks and the like. In short, only a given amount of work can be produced in a given period of time.
The handwriting is in the plaster. The consumer has to face the moment of truth that if he is to obtain the services of competent TV technicians he must pay what they are really worth.
This can be implemented only by a rate increase sufficient to pay shop owners a reasonable return for their efforts; and they will, in turn, pay their TV technicians more than $3.00 per hour, which is what the above figure of $550.00 per month reflects.
I could not agree more with Mr. Belt's view that the customer likes a friendly technician. This is as it should be. The present climate militates against this however; the scene is hardly pacifistic. Only a fellow technician can know the outrages suffered almost daily by other technicians dealing with the rank and file customer. This alone has driven the TV shop off the scene, for the pay is too little, and the attrition too great. Until the pay is increased substantially, and a new sense of pride is restored, the forces of attrition will continue to drive the cream of the TV servicing profession to other industries. This, Mr. Belt, is a fact to be reckoned with by all parties. Big shops will not ameliorate it - they will only perpetuate it on a larger corporate level.
Vincent L. Irvan
Pacific Grove, Cal.
Posted February 1, 2018