The field of engineering technology allows tech-savvy workers to earn an excellent living doing hands-on work without the need for a lengthy college education program. The median wage for engineering technicians, drafters and mapping technicians is $55,810, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s well above the $37,690 median salary for all occupations in the U.S. However, some engineering technicians make more than others. The best paid engineering technicians, in the field of aerospace engineering, earn a median wage of $67,240, while the lowest paying engineering technology role, environmental engineering technician, earns just $50,230.
Aerospace Engineering Technician
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work to operate and maintain the equipment needed to create and test airplanes, spaceships and other forms of aircraft and spacecraft. Today’s aerospace engineering technicians use computer simulation tools as well as automation and robotics equipment to construct, install and maintain test facilities and equipment. Their work is important because the testing performed with this equipment is what ensures that aircraft, spacecraft and the technology systems in these vessels are safe. In an aerospace, astronautical or aeronautical engineering technology program, students complete coursework in subjects like propulsion systems, electrical and electronic systems, applied aeronautical structures and materials and vehicle design operation and maintainability.
The best paid aerospace engineering technicians typically work in scientific research and development, where the median annual salary is $80,840. Those working in engineering services, computer and electronic manufacturing and aerospace product and parts manufacturing earn median wages within a couple thousand dollars of the median for all aerospace engineering technicians. Some of the lowest paid aerospace engineering technicians include the 15 percent who work for testing laboratories, where the median salary is just $59,670.
With specialized training in equipment like CNC machines and 3-D CAD/CAM software, experienced aerospace engineering technicians can attain promotions into senior roles paying up to making $95,000 to $110,000, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technician
For electrical and electronics engineering technicians, the median salary is $63,660 per year, the BLS reported. These technicians work alongside electrical and electronics engineers, assisting in the development of electrical and electronic equipment, devices and systems of all kinds. They help with various stages of the engineering process, from product testing to equipment repair to manufacture with automated equipment. Tasks ranging from reading blueprints to building prototypes and from inspecting products for quality control to calibrating testing equipment can fall under the responsibilities of an electrical or electronics engineering technician. Students in electrical and electronics technology degree programs can expect to gain hands-on technical skills in basic wiring, alternating and direct circuits, industrial motor controls, digital electronics and programmable logic controllers.
The federal government, which employs about 10 percent of electrical and electronics engineering technicians, is among the highest paying industries, with a median wage of $68,200. On the other hand, the median salary for electrical and electronics engineering technicians who work in navigational and control instruments manufacturing and semiconductor manufacturing is below $60,000 per year.
Unfortunately, electrical and electronics engineering technology is a competitive field right now. The BLS expects jobs to grow by a slower than average two percent rate over a decade.
Electro-mechanical technicians earn just slightly more than the median wage for all technicians, with a median salary of $56,740, the BLS reported. They work with all varieties of automated, unmanned, robotic and electromechanical equipment and need a thorough understanding in both mechanical technology and electrical and electronic circuits. In an electro-mechanical technology associate degree program, you can expect to study topics like mechanics, hydraulics, circuits, automation, robotics, machine fabrication, power electronics, electricity, maintenance and machine tool processes.
The engineering services industry employs just eight percent of all electro-mechanical technicians, but it offers some of the best paying opportunities, with a median wage of $61,320. Electro-mechanical technicians in transportation equipment manufacturing earn a $58,910 median salary.
There are about 13,800 electro-mechanical technicians working in the United States, according to the BLS.
Increasing Your Earning Potential as an Engineering Technician
You may think that the best way to increase your salary as an engineering technician is to earn a more advanced degree. In fact, an associate’s degree is the typical education required for engineering technician jobs in all disciplines, the BLS reported. While the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) does accredit baccalaureate programs as well as associate’s degree programs, spending an extra two years in school might not be the best way to advance in this career. On-the-job training and individual certification in the most widely sought-after technologies, rather than a four-year degree, are the factors that are most likely to impress employers, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Graduates of baccalaureate programs in engineering technology are called technologists and work closely with engineers, implementing the existing technologies.