Car Audio Technician: Salary and Career Facts
Car audio technicians, also called mobile electronics technicians, install and repair music, video and navigation systems in automobiles. Learn about training and credentials needed for employment, typical job duties and earning outlook. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
How Do I Become a Car Audio Technician?
One way is to get a car audio technician, car audio system installer or mobile electronics technician certificate. You might obtain an associate's degree in electronics through a community or technical college instead, which may be preferred by employers. In a certificate program, you'll learn the basic theories and applications of alternating (AC) and direct (DC) electrical currents, plus the soldering techniques needed for connecting and disconnecting electronic system components. A broader, more general electronics curriculum makes up the associate's degree program. Both options feature significant time in the lab.
What Credentials Do I Need?
Certification is available through the Mobile Electronics Certified Professional program sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association. Basic, advanced and master installation technician levels may be offered. You must meet experience requirements and pass a written exam for each, with re-certification needed every two to four years. If you decide to focus your career on sales, certification is also available as a mobile product specialist. Neither states nor the federal government require professional certification for employment, however employers often do.
What Tasks Would I Perform?
The simple answer is that you'd install and repair audio and related electronics systems in cars. The process can be very involved though, especially with the increasingly varied and complicated equipment available. You may be called upon to work not only with music, but video, navigation, wireless communications and security systems that include an audio component. Installing car alarm systems and remote starters are common projects.
On a given day, you might make a simple change in a car from radio to CD player. Or, using your knowledge of AC/DC circuits and your soldering skills, you could design the placement and power connection routes for a sophisticated sound system. Such a system might require removing and replacing car parts, such as door panels and seats, in order to install electronics and sound-dampening materials. Tools used include crimpers, strippers, soldering equipment and pliers.
Depending on your experience level, you may be asked to diagnose system problems and conduct repairs. For this, you must understand the workings of many types of electronic parts and how they are integrated. You would need to know how to read manufacturer schematics and specifications and conduct tests to find the glitches in play. Gaining experience and leadership skills in this area may help you advance to a supervisory position, where you help other technicians troubleshoot problems.
What Could I Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2009, the median annual wage for car audio technicians was $28,060 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that little or no change is expected in the national employment rate for car audio technicians from 2008-2018 due to car makers' installation of more sophisticated systems during factory production that require less maintenance and fewer aftermarket purchases or upgrades.
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