There are roughly 52,000 electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers working in the United States. Given the growing home entertainment market, projected job growth in the upcoming decade is expected to be better than average, especially for certified installers and repairers. Competency with electronics, customer service experience, and previous installing or repairing work experience will enhance a job applicant’s value to a potential employer.
Electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers are often referred to as service technicians. The work they do involves audio and video equipment. Some installers and repairers are trained in a number of areas, while others prefer to specialize on one or two aspects of the business. Radios, televisions, stereo speakers and players, disc players, and video cameras are all products that service technicians are qualified to handle. In addition, most will install satellite dishes and large-screen TVs with surround sound.
Bench technicians work inside a repair shop. Portable equipment in need of repair is brought to the shop by the customer. A well-stocked repair shop contains a wide variety of tools and parts. Other repairers, or field technicians, service large, heavy, or fixed equipment on-site. Field repairers drive trucks that have been outfitted with a basic set of tools and make repairs at the customer’s house or place of business. In the event that an item cannot be repaired on-site with the tools the field technician has available, the component might be removed and repaired in a shop, either by the bench technician or the field technician. When faced with diagnosing faulty equipment, the first line of defense is always to check the various parts for wear and tear or defect. Next, the repairer reviews the manufacturer’s specifications. Testing equipment, such as multimeters, color-bar and dot generators, oscilloscopes, or digital storage scopes, might be used. In addition, both field and bench technicians use a set of hand tools, including screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, soldering irons, and the like. While advances in technology have greatly improved both the visual and audio aspects of equipment and created a much smaller footprint for things like video cameras, stereos, or radios, the miniaturized and digitized devices can be difficult to work with. For many consumers, it makes more sense to replace a broken piece of equipment rather than repairing it because, as technology improves, prices have been steadily dropping.
Bench technicians work in well-lit repair shops. Field technicians work in a range of environments and spend a good portion of the day in transit in a service truck. This type of work is not nearly as strenuous as others; however, repairers may have to lift or carry heavy or bulky items, or assume an uncomfortable position to render a repair. Electrical shock and minor burns are a danger, but if the repair person is careful and follows standard safety rules, this type of work is relatively safe. For example, they must be sure to discharge television monitors before working on them, even if the set is turned off and not plugged in to a source of power. This is because TV monitors carry high voltage regardless of whether they are turned on.
More and more, employers are looking for installer and repairer applicants with a good foundation in electronics. Additional favorable characteristics include the ability to think through a problem and resolve it logically, as well as previous experience working with home entertainment equipment or in the field of electronics. Field technicians are expected to demonstrate good customer service skills since they are often in the homes of customers. Certification is encouraged for both entry-level and experienced installers and repairers, especially for those who hope to be promoted. Vocational training programs and technical or community colleges offer degree and certificate programs in home entertainment equipment installation and repair. The most effective programs will focus on both direct experience and classroom instruction in digital electronics. New hires lacking previous work experience are often paired with experienced technicians for hands-on training.
The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) offers a number of electronics certifications. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians provides certification in multimedia and electronic systems. There are a number of prerequisites that applicants must have met before taking the exam.
One way to advance in the field is by becoming a specialist or a diagnostic troubleshooter. Home entertainment equipment installers and repairers with excellent leadership qualities can be promoted to supervisor or manager positions. Some open their own shops. Because home entertainment equipment is continuously being improved, it’s important for installers and repairers to keep abreast of new developments with frequent continuing education and training.
The median hourly pay for electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers is around $16 per hour. Those at the bottom of the pay scale earn a little more than $10 per hour, while those at the top receive closer to $25 per hour.