What Will I Learn in an Electrical Technology Program?
Electrical technology is the study of electricity, electrical equipment, and the installation, maintenance, and repair of electrical systems. A degree program in electrical technology teaches you the science of electricity and how to apply it in a career.
Whether you choose to earn a two-year or a four-year degree, expect to take courses in math and physics. You’ll learn about electrical theory, circuits, motors, generators, hydraulics, motor control and programmable controllers, among many other topics. You will learn everything you need to begin a career working with electrical systems.
What Jobs Can I Get with an Electronics Technology Degree?
Many colleges offer an associate degree in electronics technology, while some have a four-year bachelor degree option as well. Some students complete this type of course as part of the requirements for an electrician apprenticeship program, but it is also a stand-alone option for a number of careers and jobs:
- Electrical engineering technician
- Electronics installer
- Electronics repairer
- Electronics salesperson
- Electrical relay technician
- Electrical research technician
- Industrial controls technician
- Industrial robotics technician
- Control engineer
- Automation technician
- Aircraft electronics technician
- Fiber optics technician
Some careers in electronics require additional training or specialized courses, but a degree in electrical technology is a strong foundation. It sets you up for options and will make you a good job candidate for many positions, even if they include additional on-the-job training.
What is the Difference Between Electrical Engineering and Electrical Technology?
As you research electrical careers, you may get confused between terms, especially electrical engineering and electrical technology. They are similar but different careers with different educational and training requirements.
Electrical engineers design and test new products and electrical equipment and systems. They oversee the development of these products and their manufacture. Electrical engineers usually have a bachelor’s degree that includes a lot of upper-level math, science, laboratory and engineering courses. A degree in electrical engineering leads to this one specific career.
An electrical technology program prepares students for several different careers in electronics. While you can earn a bachelor’s degree, for most jobs a two-year degree is adequate. Electrical technology programs involve math, science and lab work, but the coursework is generally easier.
Careers in electrical technology are more focused on installing, maintaining and repairing electrical systems. Electrical engineers focus on designing those systems and making sure they work correctly.
Is Electrical Technology Hard and Does it Require Math?
An electrical technology degree is easier to complete than an electrical engineering degree, but it can still be challenging. To enroll in a program, you should have a strong background in high school math and science.
Many programs have specific requirements including a high school diploma or equivalent, algebra, physics and a minimum GPA. Some require that you earned a minimum grade in math and science classes. The requirements vary by school and program.
A Typical Electrical Technology Associate Degree Curriculum
Most programs in electrical technology are associate degree programs or lower. Some schools offer shorter diploma or certificate programs. A two-year degree is a good option that gives graduates plenty of career opportunities and the right coursework to transfer to a four-year program later.
The curriculum and courses vary by school, but most are similar. You’ll learn about electrical theory, circuits, electrical equipment, math, physics and practical skills. You may also need to take general education courses in things like English, composition, social sciences and humanities. Many programs also include workplace safety courses.
A typical two-year program in electrical technology might include the following courses:
- Basic electricity or electrical theory. In an introductory course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of electricity including circuits, magnets, resistance, inductance, voltage and more. It should include a laboratory component in which you learn to use meters and other equipment.
- Advanced electricity and theory. Most programs teach this course as a level I and level II class. The second level gets into more advanced topics including the design of electrical systems and circuits as well as practical applications. It should also include a laboratory component.
- Motors and generators. Courses in motors and generators will teach you about these important elements of electrical systems with both alternating and direct current. Expect to get hands-on with equipment in this class.
- Hydraulics and pneumatics. You will be introduced to the theory of hydraulics and fluid power pneumatics, learning how they are used in industrial and other practical settings.
- Industrial motor and drive control. Classes in motor control introduce you to the circuits that drive motors. You’ll learn how to design and install them. Most programs include an advanced course in this topic.
- Programable logic controllers. As most industrial settings use PLCs to automate processes, you will learn how they work, how to use them and how to install them.
In addition to basic electrical courses, you may be able to choose electives. Some programs include an area of specialty such as robotics or automation, and include several additional specialty courses. Some of the additional courses you may take include:
- Instrumentation systems
- Automaton controls
- Computer aided design (CAD)
- Renewable and sustainable energy systems
- Power transmission
- Electrical engineering
- Computer information systems
- Industrial drafting
- Electrical systems in construction
- Process control
A Typical Electrical Technology Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum
A four-year degree in electrical technology is not required for most careers. Many people choose this program to meet ongoing education requirements while also earning a degree. You may also choose a four-year degree if you hope to work in a management position or if you want to work with electrical engineers. If you earn an associate degree first, you may be able to apply credits later to a four-year program.
Bachelor’s degree programs in electrical technology include many of the same courses as a two-year degree program as well as many more classes. The general education requirements are greater for this degree. It’s typical to take up to 60 credits in general education. Some of these will be required courses, while others are electives allowing you to choose the classes you take to round out the credits.
You may also have to take more advanced math and science classes in a four-year program. This may include a second semester of physics and math courses that include trigonometry and calculus. Some of the more advanced degree-related programs you may take include:
- Solid state devices and circuits
- Electronic communications
- Digital circuits and design
- Electrical design
- Experimental design
- Embedded systems design
- Analog systems design
- Electric power systems
- Database applications
- Sensors and signals
- Computer programming
- Operations management
- Regulatory policies
- Occupational health and safety
- Quality management
- Trends and applications in electronics
- Project management
Four-year degree programs often include a research project or work experience as part of the credit requirements. This could be an internship with a company or a senior capstone project, in which you conduct a research project or design and build something.
What you will learn in any electrical technology program is the foundational knowledge and the practical skills to work in this industry. A degree isn’t necessary for every job working with electricity or electronics, but it is a smart way to get started on a long, successful career.