In a few years i will be done with my current career and will be looking to go into a new one. I am considering and Electrical/Electronics Engineering Technology diploma from a local community college. I’d like to work with electrical systems in industry, manufacturing, utility companies and such. I’d also like to work with Programmable Logic Controllers. Will this degree prepare me for this type of work? What are some possible careers I could get into?
Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.
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I’d go for an EE degree or else an apprenticeship as an electrician. Occasionally I see advertisements for engineers that accept associates degrees or EET degrees, but they’re a drop in the bucket compared to job postings that specify a BSEE.
Electricians can work with PLCs and control systems in industry. They’re not all home wiring guys. I don’t know the right way to specialize in what you want as an electrician, because I’m not an electrician. But I work with PLCs in an industrial setting and electricians often work right alongside me. I tend to do programming and design at my desk, though, and they’re doing more hands on troubleshooting/wiring in the field. So what exactly do you want to be doing with controllers? I know it can be expensive and difficult to get a bachelor’s in electrical engineering.
The only EET I knew was a civilian I worked with in Iraq when I was in the Army. We repaired printers and desktop computers. He made good money (all American civilians in Iraq did), but he and I did the same work, and I was just a high school drop out in college at the time. I doubt I could have gotten a plum tech repair job for the Department of the Army without some kind of degree though, I just worked with the civilians because they didn’t need my actual MOS while I was in Iraq. So I don’t want to outright say an EET associate degree is a bad idea, but I will say it’s probably the path with the fewest options available to you out of the choices of getting a BS in engineering, an associates in EET, or becoming an electrician.
Electrical engineering technology should have some focus on PLC, ladder logic, etc. I suspect this could lead to a career as an electrical technician or production engineer in a manufacturing setting. Many years ago I interviewed with a manufacturing equipment maker that fabbed equipment using PLCs. Seemed interesting, but that particular company didn’t pay so I didn’t take the job. As production gets more and more automated, this isn’t a bad way to go.
Yes, I know another guy like that. And he was code certified when he graduated.
As always, I’m now amazed by how little research most people do before starting study. (I was no different). This is a good start, but you want to actually talk to some ET graduateds before you start, and if you don’t find any here, you should look farther, including making some random cold-call phone calls. Just imagine that you are a scammer or a salesman, pick up the phone, and start making calls until you find someone willing to talk to you. They can do it: so can you.
Our college has introduced a EET associates degree this year, at the request of local manufacturing and production corporations. They want “close-enough” engineers (I have a BSEE degree so I can be a bit sarcastic). I was on the committee that approved the program. It was close to a BSEE degree, including materials, programming introduction, statics, and macro economics, but the math ended at college algebra (no calculus required).
The EET AAS degree would transfer all of its credits to a four-year university degree for an applied BSEE degree (which also doesn’t require calculus!), but the outlook is that all two-year graduates are essentially guaranteed jobs at local industries, doing maintenance, system upgrades, and extending any current production lines.
EET here! Three-year diploma in electronics engineering technology from Sheridan College, class of '85. After graduation, I was a member of OACETT, the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists, for a while.
I have had various jobs in the electronics field including assembly, repair, design and programming of simple test fixtures, and documentation. The hard detailed design of fixtures, and all product design, went to professional engineers (P.Eng) with four-year degrees and iron rings.
There is a huge difference in depth of knowledge between technicians and technologists, on one hand, and engineers on the other. Technicians have two-year diplomas. Technologists have three-year diplomas. Engineers have four-year degrees to start with, and if you want to be a P.Eng, there’s an apprenticeship and further qualifications.
Technicians and technologists are expected to get their hands dirty more often than engineers.
What is your current career, how does it relate to electronics, and what do you think industrial electricians do? Get this straight in your mind before deciding. Over the past 30 years of my industrial electrician career, I have seen that much of the industrial electrician work has been rolled into the electro-mechanic careers. The E & I techs have assumed the PLC and servo drive end of things. The BSEE runs the department, sits in meetings, whips out the plan, and gets the big money. The lower degrees do the actual coding and field work. My recent high school graduate son does not want to sit 4 years in college and wants a quick degree that can get him some decent pocket change with benefits. I recommended to him to go with the electrotechnology end of the spectrum and learn to program and troubleshoot industrial robots. The palletizers and welders and transporters that will be replacing the blue collar uneducated workforce over the next half century. Vision systems will be huge. Picking out a blue hammer on a conveyor that should only have pink. 6mmX1.0mm bolts from 1/4"X28tpi from a combined box. Not driving over a humanoid while delivering a tote. Stack a warehouse and not do this.
As to careers? Cell system design assembly. Touchless car washes are run by PLCs that connect back to the designer to be troubleshot remotely. I interviewed at one such place. Build the robotic packaging cells that assembled the box of cabinets you put together in your living area. Somebody has to fix Amazons warehouse robots. Somebody installed and repairs the baggage handle conveyors at the airport. Look for careers in the machining and automated warehousing install and repair fields and try to avoid the heavy metal and big paper industries.