A test technician is an electronics and engineering specialist who performs quality control trials on various types of products. He or she carefully inspects parts or finished products to make sure they were built according to specifications. The technician then puts items through a series of tests to determine their effectiveness, durability, and safety. Technicians work in many different industries and settings, but most professionals are employed by large manufacturing plants that produce electronics, tools, or machinery.
Daily responsibilities for a test technician can vary depending on what types of items he or she inspects. A technician who works for a consumer electronics firm, for example, may use voltmeters and other sophisticated measuring tools to make sure electricity flows uninterrupted and at the correct current level throughout a unit. He or she typically follows an established protocol to inspect workmanship and the overall quality of every component piece. Devices that pass testing normally are ready to be packaged and shipped to distributors.
Technicians at large manufacturing plants that produce industrial machines, airplanes, or automobiles may focus their testing on particular parts, such as drive shafts or ignition systems. They usually inspect pieces along an assembly line as they are put together and again once the final product is built. In addition, test technicians may work in teams to put cars or machinery through extensive durability and safety runs before they can be approved for distribution.
Some test technicians inspect materials and products while they are still in the research and development phase of production. Under the supervision of an engineer, a test technician makes sure physical prototypes match technical schematics. He or she follows standard testing protocol to see if a device functions properly. Notes are made regarding any problems or potential hazards during initial product testing, which are submitted to the design engineer so the appropriate changes can be made.
The requirements to become a test technician can vary between different industries and employers. Most companies prefer to hire applicants who have completed two-year engineering technician programs at vocational schools or community colleges. Previous experience in assembly line production, packaging, quality control, or a related industry job can be very helpful in finding entry-level work. With ongoing experience, a test technician may be able to become a supervisor within his or her company. Technicians who are interested in designing and building new products can pursue continuing education to become professional engineers.