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Test Technician Duties and Responsibilities
Test technicians complete a wide range of tasks on a regular basis, and their duties often vary based on factors such as their job location, the industry they work in, and the number of years they have been employed. However, the overwhelming majority of test technicians are responsible for completing the following core tasks:
Conduct Product Tests As their name implies, test technicians are responsible for testing products before they are released on the market. The tests they perform ensure that products are safe for use and free of any defects. Test technicians may be tasked with testing an entire product or a single aspect of a product (e.g., an airbag in a car).
Compile Product Reports Test technicians play an important role in the production process, and their findings can help companies make their products safer and more efficient. They may compile reports detailing their findings and present them to supervisors and company heads. In their reports, they may offer suggestions for improving the product or preventing future defects.
Maintain Equipment The equipment used to test products on a regular basis must be maintained properly. If testing machinery is not properly maintained, the test technician's findings may not be accurate. For this reason, test technicians are often tasked with calibrating, assembling, updating, and improving the machines and software used to perform tests.
Consult with Others The product testing stage is only one of the many stages of production. This means that test technicians often work with product developers, as well as investors and others with an interest in the integrity of a product, to fix defects and improve product quality.
Inspect Products In addition to testing products, test technicians also perform multipoint safety and efficiency inspections. They use their expertise to decide if a product will be safe to use in a real-world setting. Test technicians may inspect individual products or prototypes.
Test Technician Skills and QualificationsTest technicians should have a strong appreciation for science and technology as well as a desire to keep consumers safe. The licenses and certificates needed to become a test technician will vary from company to company, but in general, an associate's degree is usually required to enter the field. Employers are most likely to hire test technicians with the following qualities and abilities:
- Basic engineering and scientific knowledge - to accurately perform tests on consumer products, test technicians need a strong understanding of various scientific and elementary engineering concepts. They employ this knowledge on a regular basis when testing products
- Mathematics - test technicians often use math, in particular statistics and algebra, to interpret test results. They may be expected to perform statistical and algebraic calculations with the help of a software program, but they should still be capable of performing calculations by hand
- Understanding of testing equipment - test technicians utilize a wide range of machines and software programs on a regular basis. They should feel comfortable using these machines and programs in a safe manner
- Communication skills - since test technicians are expected to work with other individuals from various departments, they should be comfortable conveying their findings in a written and verbal manner. They may be asked to compile reports, so they should have strong writing skills and the ability to explain complex engineering and testing jargon to non-testers
- Safety - test technicians should place an immense amount of value on safety. They are required to use various machines and pieces of equipment, and some of these machines can be dangerous if used incorrectly
Test Technician Education and TrainingMost companies require test technicians to possess at least an associate's degree in an engineering or scientific field. Associate's degrees can usually be earned in two years from community colleges and technical schools. During their studies, test technicians take courses such as statistics, algebra, chemistry, physics, and basic electronics. Those employed in the electronics field may need to obtain a certification or a bachelor's degree to advance their careers.
Test Technician Salary and OutlookThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies test technicians as engineering technicians, and the mean annual wage for a test technician is $64,550. Test technicians with wages in the top 10th percentile earn more than $97,270 yearly, while those in the bottom 10th percentile earn less than $35,030 yearly. Many test technicians also receive employment benefits such as health insurance, retirement coverage, disability insurance, and in some cases, performance and longevity bonuses. The rate of employment for test technicians is expected to increase 1.4 percent by 2026. This is significantly lower than the national average of 7 percent for all career fields. This slow rate of growth is attributed to the outsourcing of product testing jobs by American companies.
Are you interested in becoming a test technician? Check out the list of helpful resources below:
Consumer Reports - Consumer Reports is the largest nonprofit organization in the United States geared toward product research and testing. Its website is perfect for future test technicians, who can use it to gain a better understanding of how their work will be utilized by society. Consumer Reports compiles information and tests thousands of consumer products each year
Product Testing - only 124 pages long, this book is packed with information about the product testing process. Written by Gerardus Blokdyk, this compact publication discusses the issues test technicians face, as well as the role product testing plays in the overall success of a business. Simply put, this is a must-read for anyone who is considering a career in the product testing industry
Explore It! Reduce Risk and Increase Confidence with Exploratory Testing - garnering rave reviews from readers, Elisabeth Hendrickson's book is a relatively simple but comprehensive introduction to exploratory testing. The book also claims product developers, engineers, and testers can actually improve their products by examining their past failures and shortcomings
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