Engineering technicians use the principles and theories of science, engineering, and mathematics to solve technical problems in research and development, manufacturing, sales, construction, inspection, and maintenance. Their work is more limited in scope and more practically oriented than that of scientists and engineers. Many engineering technicians assist engineers and scientists, especially in research and development.
Others work in quality control - inspecting products and processes, conducting tests, or collecting data. In manufacturing, they may assist in product design, development, or production. Although many workers who repair or maintain various types of electrical, electronic, or mechanical equipment often are called technicians, these workers are covered in the Handbook section on installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.
Engineering technicians who work in research and development build or set up equipment, prepare and conduct experiments, collect data, calculate or record the results, and help engineers or scientists in other ways, such as making prototype versions of newly designed equipment. They also assist in design work, often using computer-aided design equipment.
Most engineering technicians specialize in certain areas, learning skills and working in the same disciplines as engineers. Occupational titles, therefore, tend to follow the same structure as those of engineers. Electrical and electronic engineering technicians make up about 45 percent of all engineering technicians. Because the type and quality of training programs vary considerably, prospective students should carefully investigate training programs before enrolling.