Technicians or engineering technicians, as they are known in the UK and USA, handle work that is limited in scope but very practically-oriented. In fact, their utility is probably as much as that of scientists and engineers. They are an indispensable part of any project engineers and scientists are working on. They assist engineers and scientists in all spheres of their work in research and development, manufacturing, sales, construction, inspection or maintenance. Some technicians may work in quality control-inspecting products and processes.
Nature of Work
Technicians work in installation, maintenance, servicing, manufacturing, and many industries where their services are required. They have a wide range of opportunities to use their training and talents. Work hours are usually regular and maybe in shifts depending upon the nature of assignment and responsibilities.
Craftsmen who are trained in different engineering trades do much of the actual technical work using machines and tools under the supervision and guidance of engineering technicians.
There are a variety of workplaces for the technician including the factory, scientific installations, research laboratories, on construction sites, and in their own workshops. Depending upon the sphere of specializations the workplace may be totally air-conditioned or involve working outdoors.
Most engineering technicians specialise in certain areas learning skills and working in the same disciplines as engineers. Occupational titles, therefore, tend to follow the same structure as for engineers.
Chemical engineering technicians work in industries producing pharmaceutical, chemicals, petroleum products, etc., or in laboratories or processing plants.
Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers plan and build roads, buildings, bridges dams, waste-water treatment systems, etc.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help design, develop, test and manufacture electrical and electronic equipment such as radios, television, navigational equipment, industrial measuring or control devices and computers.
Electrical communication or telecommunication engineering technicians design, manufacture, install, operate and maintain broadcasting television, telephone and telegraph systems, radar and various other telecommunications equipment.
Industrial engineering technicians are usually found supervising production departments of manufacturing plants.
Mechanical engineering technicians are engaged in designing, building and operating machinery, mechanical parts and other equipment.
Working under the supervision of engineering technicians, are the craftsmen who are trained in different engineering trades. These are the repairers and mechanics working at the workshop level. They do much of the actual technical work using machines and tools.
Engineering craftspersons do skilled work and need sufficient theoretical knowledge to understand the principles behind the operations they carry out and to solve basic problems. They work in all branches and may be in charge of semi and unskilled workers.
Machine-shop crafts include:
Tool making: use of precision machinery and tools to make jigs, fixtures, gauges and other tools used in production work.
Turning: operating lathes which use fixed cutting tool(s) to remove metal/material from a rotating workpiece.
Fitters, working in mechanical, electrical or electronic engineering, combine the basic skills of machine-shop craftspersons with the ability to use hand tools. In production work, they may assemble cars, generators, TV sets, etc. They carry out maintenance and repair work on domestic appliances and office machinery either on customers premises- private houses, factories, offices, etc. – or in workshops.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
A practical and methodical approach with an interest in technology is needed for all technician jobs. Manual dexterity and good communication are important skills. One should also have the ability to work with others since you are often part of a team of engineers and other technicians. Creativity is desirable for those who are involved in designing.
For those trained in the engineering trades, manual dexterity and physical hardiness are important along with meticulousness and precision.
- Engineering Trades
- Minimum educational level for entry varies between a pass in Class 8 or pass in class 10.
- Preferred level of entry is Class 10 and 12
- Science and Maths should have been studied uptil class 10th for most of these.
- Admissions are on a merit basis.
- Under Craftsmen Training Scheme (Model Training Institute)
- Training is of 1-3 years duration training for different trades.
- Engineering Technicians
- 3-4 year diploma programmes in various disciplines are conducted by polytechnics, vocational training institutions run by government and private bodies and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) . Admission is after class 10. For some diploma courses, 10+2 Science is recommended.
- Diploma courses are offered in the following disciplines:
- Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics & Communication, Automobile, Printing, Instrumentation & Control, Mechanical (Maintenance), Architectural Assistantship, Electronics (Digital/Medical), Production, Plastics, Interior Design, Construction, Chemical, Computer, Tool & Die-Making, Power Systems, Industrial, Paper Technology, Radio & Video, Textile, Transportation, etc.
Importance of training institution
It is advisable to undergo technical training at an institution recognized by AICTE or the State Board of Technical Education. In every state the State Board of Technical Education provides information on the courses available and recognized in that particular state. For employment in government/allied organizations as well as in private organizations recognized diploma courses only are acceptable.
Higher education for engineering Diploma holders may be entering degree engineering programmes directly in the second year (only with excellent academic records) or entry into first year of engineering degree programmes through the entrance examination.
Engineering diploma-holders can progress to Post Diploma Engineering Diploma courses to upgrade their competence to a level equivalent to BE/BTech in relevant areas.
The Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGET) also conducts Training of Craft Instructors [1 year duration] through its Advanced Training Institutes.
Job prospects for engineering technicians, and those skilled in the various trades are good. The availability of jobs is expected to vary from time to time and from palce to place depending upon the economic booms and slumps in various industries. Governement, defence and Indian Coastguards are important emploers for diploma holders.
More technical support specialists will be needed in the electrical, electronics and computer maintenance sector with increasing demand for more sophisticated electrical and electronic products and the expansion of these products and systems into all areas of industry and manufacturing processes.
Advancement possibilities for skilled, experienced technicians depend upon their field of activity. Some may go on to become supervisors while others become instructors. After some solid work experience with a reputed company quite a few establish their own workshops or servicing agencies. They invariably have work rolling in once they have established a reputation for reliability and efficient service. To stay ahead and above competition, engineering technicians and crafts persons should fully develop their technical expertise, continuously upgrade themselves in the newer technologies and develop their analytical ability with experience.