The pressing need for engineers of virtually all disciplines has become increasingly urgent as relatively few students view and pursue engineering as a career. Business seems more attractive to many, and yeah, there’s always psychology (the “new” liberal arts degree) that has a lot of sellers, but relatively few buyers, at least at the BA/BS level.
Yes, engineering education and engineers are vital for keeping our technological world moving ahead, but who keeps the underlying machinery, tools, and software moving at all? Technicians.
Whether you recognize them, or not, there are technicians in just about every field and industry. For example, automotive mechanics, machinists, cosmetologists, electricians, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) — the list is about endless. If it’s “technical,” the odds are extremely good that there is a technician involved somewhere in the chain, and that may include many links in the chain.
So, what exactly is a technician?
Technicians can be classified as either highly skilled or semi-skilled workers, and are usually an integral part of a larger process. They work in a variety of fields, and they usually have a job title with the designation “technician” following the particular category of work. For example, an engineering technician is a highly skilled, highly educated occupation requiring several years of post high school training in a formal apprenticeship and probably college (usually two year) for further education.
Experienced technicians in a specific domain typically have at least an intermediate understanding of theory and expert proficiency in technique. Because of this practical knowledge, technicians are generally better versed in technique compared to average laymen and even general professionals in that field of technology, namely engineers, for whom theory often trumps practice.
What is the Future of (Automotive) Technicians?