Electronics Technician Training Course Online

Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Develop your skills with the Penn Foster Electronics Technician Program. With Penn Foster, you train at home and at a pace that's right for you. You'll learn everything from performing basic electronic procedures to linear/digital technology and integrated circuit techniques. Did you know that the average salary for electrical and electronics installers and repairers is $51,220?¹

After you graduate, you’ll be prepared to install, repair, maintain, or even sell hi-tech electronic equipment. And you can complete this program in as little as nine months. The Penn Foster Electronics Technician Program is also recognized by the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA-I).

Curriculum Details

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.

Objectives:

  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Electronics

Objectives:

  • Explore the fascinating world of technology that’s made possible by modern electronics.
  • Review the use of specialized tools and measuring instruments that are used in the industry.
  • Learn some of the job opportunities that will be available to you in the electronics field and the skills that you’ll need to qualify for them.

Unit 2

Nature of Electricity

Objectives:

  • Explore what electricity is and how we use it.
  • Discover the many important fundamental concepts related to electricity.
  • Read about the dangers and benefits of static electricity.
  • Familiarize yourself with volts, amperes, ohms, and series and parallel circuits.
Practical Exercise 1

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Materials

Learning Aids:

  • Resistor Color Guide
  • Practice Kit 1

Unit 3

Conductors, Insulators, and Batteries

Objectives:

  • Learn about the conductors that connect circuits together and the types of insulation used to cover conductors.
  • Explore cells and batteries.
  • Read about safety precautions when using storage batteries.
Circuit Analysis and Ohm’s Law

Objectives:

  • Read about circuit resistance.
  • Study Ohm’s Law and how it’s used to identify the amount of current, voltage, or resistance that’s in a circuit.
  • Learn about power and how to take basic meter readings in circuits.
Practical Exercise 2

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Materials
Supplement: Multimeter Operation Manual

Learning Aids:

  • Circuit Formulas (quick reference card)
  • Practice Kit 2
  • Digital Multimeter

Unit 4

Basic Test Equipment

Objectives:

  • Learn about the use of basic multimeters, or VOMs.
  • Review basic circuit properties and concepts.
  • Study the features, controls, and uses of both analog and digital VOMs.
  • Explore the special accessory probes used with meters to measure current, temperature, and high voltages.
Electronics Hardware

Objectives:

  • Study the connectors that join wire or cables to components.
  • Explore the sometimes electronic behavior of simple wires and cables themselves.
  • Read about how the conductive properties of wire can be intentionally or inadvertently changed.
  • Learn how to mount components to various types of circuit boards.
  • Discover which particular types of components and boards require special attention.
Switching Devices

Objectives:

  • Explore different types of switches.
  • Read about the advantages and disadvantages of using mechanical switches and electronic switches.
  • Learn how switches function, and how they’re used in electronic circuits.
  • Understand basic relay ladder diagrams.
Practical Exercise 3

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: Soldering and Desoldering

Learning Aids:

  • Practice Kit 3
  • Soldering Iron
  • Desoldering Pump

Unit 5

Magnetism and Electromagnetism

Objectives:

  • Familiarize yourself with the various magnetic units and terms.
  • Learn about natural and artificial magnets.
  • Explore simple, compound, and closed magnetic circuits.
  • Read about simple electromagnetic relays.
  • Study electromagnetism, electromagnetic devices, and electromagnetic induction.
Capacitors and Inductors

Objectives:

  • Explore different types of capacitors.
  • Learn about how capacitors and inductors operate in DC circuits.
  • Discover how capacitors and inductors are used in many types of industrial power supplies, motor drive systems, and on most industrial electronics printed circuit boards.
Basic Semiconductor Components: Diodes

Objectives:

  • Explore the electronic component called the diode.
  • Read about how a rectifier changes alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).
  • Study how diodes work and how they’re used in electronic circuits.
  • Learn how to perform some basic measurements in diode circuits.
Basic Semiconductor Components: Transistors

Objectives:

  • Study the construction and function of several basic types of transistors, including bipolar transistors, JFETs, and MOSFETs.
  • Learn how to use an ohmmeter.
  • Discover how to perform simple circuit measurements and tests on transistors.
  • Study some basic troubleshooting techniques for electronic circuits that contain amplifying devices.
Practical Exercise 4

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Practice Kit 4

Unit 6

Alternating Current

Objectives:

  • Learn how AC current is used in industry to power computers, control systems, ovens, motors, and many other applications.
  • Read about the basic characteristics of alternating current and the values used to describe AC cycles.
  • Familiarize yourself with single-, split-, and three-phase AC current.
Capacitors in AC Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn about capacitors and how they function in AC circuits.
  • Study capacitors and the factors that affect capacitance.
  • Discover how to calculate the total capacitance of series- and parallel-connected capacitors.
  • Learn how to calculate capacitive reactance.
  • Read about how capacitors operate in series and parallel resistor/capacitor, or RC, circuits.
Inductors in AC Circuits

Objectives:

  • Discover how inductors operate in AC circuits.
  • Learn how inductors create magnetic fields when a current flows through them.
  • Read about how an inductor in an AC circuit will cause a delay in the current flowing through the circuit.
  • Understand and calculate impedance.
Transformers

Objectives:

  • Explore the fundamental concepts of transformers.
  • Learn about how transformers are used when the rated voltage of electrical equipment differs from the voltage available at a voltage source.
  • Learn about how the increase or decrease in voltage is made possible by transformers.
  • Discover that transformers are used in the transmission of electric power, in the control and signal circuits, and in electronic and radio equipment.
Practical Exercise 5

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Practice Kit 5

Unit 7

Reactance and Impedance

Objectives:

  • Learn how resistors, capacitors, and inductors are the basic building blocks of all electronic systems.
  • Discover that these basic building blocks that make up all circuits are the same.
  • Read about how resistors, capacitors, and inductors behave when connected to form basic circuits.
Resonant Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn how a resonant circuit is a special kind of reactive circuit in which the generator current and voltage are in phase.
  • Read about how resonant circuits are used in communications, telemetering, filters and oscillators, and in many other applications.
  • Calculate the value of the Quality Factor, Q.
Applications and Troubleshooting of Resonant Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn about some of the applications of resonant circuits.
  • Explore coupled circuits, traps, filters, and transmission lines.
  • Review some important troubleshooting applications that apply to resonant circuits and other types of circuits.
  • Study the maximum power transfer theorem.
  • Learn how to use conjugate impedances to get maximum power transfer in an AC circuit.
  • Review a number of design equations and design applications.
Practical Exercise 6

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Practice Kit 6

Unit 8

Rectifiers and Power Supplies

Objectives:

  • Study rectification.
  • Learn how different types of power supplies work, and learn some of the important troubleshooting techniques that are used to keep them in operation.
  • Read about how to determine the current in a diode circuit.
  • Understand how power supply components are selected.
  • Explore alternate methods that can be used to determine the current in a circuit.
Amplifiers

Objectives:

  • Explore amplifiers and how they’re a fundamental component of the communications process.
  • Learn how most acts of communication require one or more amplifiers.
  • Understand how electronic circuits perform this important function.
  • Read about the process of combining relatively simple circuits into complex configurations, including the problems encountered in this kind of combination and their solutions.
Oscillators

Objectives:

  • Learn how the oscillator plays a wide-ranging role in contemporary electronics.
  • Discover that the oscillator can handle demands for low-frequency, intermediate-frequency, or high-frequency signals.
  • Explore how the oscillator can produce one of a variety of output waveforms, depending on its configuration.
  • Read about how this flexibility makes the oscillator very useful in a host of products, ranging from radios and television sets to computers.
Optoelectronic and Fiber Optic Components

Objectives:

  • Survey the field of optoelectronics.
  • Read about how optoelectronics is a recent high-technology branch of electronics.
  • Discover that optoelectronics includes the many applications of lasers, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and light-activated diodes (LADs).
  • Read about components that do similar jobs in different ways.
Practical Exercise 7

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Practice Kit 7

Unit 9

Electronic Sensors

Objectives:

  • Read about how electronic sensors are used to collect and process both physical and chemical information.
  • Learn how electronic instrumentation is increasingly exploited by industry to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
  • Explore how certain electronic components are used as sensors and as parts in instrumentation and control systems.
Modulation and Detection Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn how modulation and demodulation (or detection) are two of the functions that make electronic communications both possible and practical.
  • Discover that without modulation, the countless transmissions in the air would be utterly out of control.
  • Read about how demodulation is the final link in the information transmission “chain,” which includes recording, modulation, transmission, reception, and demodulation.
Electronic Devices and Amplification

Objectives:

  • Study several electronic devices used in industrial electronic systems.
  • Become familiar with their circuits and other characteristics.
  • Get an in-depth view of the subject of amplification, including a detailed examination of the nature of amplification and the various types of industrial amplifiers.
  • Learn about electronics diagrams that will prepare you to sketch, use, and interpret diagrams in your daily work.
Using Basic Oscilloscopes

Objectives:

  • Learn about the basic controls and functions of an oscilloscope.
  • Study the component parts and features of a standard, dual-trace oscilloscope.
  • Read about the use of the front panel controls of an oscilloscope.
  • Learn how to connect an oscilloscope to a circuit, how to perform measurements, and how to use an oscilloscope to troubleshoot industrial systems.
Practical Exercise 8

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Practice Kit 8

Unit 10

Audio and RF Circuits

Objectives:

  • Study audio frequency (AF), radio frequency (RF), and direct current (DC) signal transmission.
  • Learn about telephone systems, hard-wired systems, and fiber-optic systems.
  • Explore the sound systems used in industrial plants and about tone signaling.
Oscillators, Feedback, and Waveforms

Objectives:

  • Learn about oscillator circuits.
  • Discover how oscillators are used in transmitters, receivers, mainframe computers, microprocessors, and signal generators.
  • Study how feedback is obtained in an oscillator.
  • Recognize several different waveforms, and explain how they’re created.
Electronic Power Supply Systems

Objectives:

  • Read about how all electrical and electronic systems require a power source.
  • Discover that in order for an electronic device or system to work, the AC input power must be converted to DC.
  • Study the basic operation of DC and AC conversion equipment.
  • Explore some of the basic components and circuits that are used to produce DC power from available AC input sources.
Practical Exercise 9

At this point in your program, you will have a practical exercise to complete.

Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Practice Kit 9

Unit 11

Resonant Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn about the conditions necessary for series and parallel resonance.
  • Calculate the resonant frequency of an LC (inductive-capacitive) circuit.
  • Calculate the value of the quality factor Q.
  • Describe the relationship between Q and bandwidth.
Applications of Resonant Circuits

Objectives:

  • Study the characteristics of basic filters.
  • Read about the Q factor of a filter.
  • Learn about filter applications.
  • Explore transmission lines and waveguides.
Pulse Techniques

Objectives:

  • Learn how to calculate the rise time of a pulse or square wave from an oscilloscope display.
  • Study what a glitch is, and understand its effect on digital circuits.
  • Measure pulse width and settling time.
  • Determine pulse repetition rate from the period of a pulse waveform.
  • Explain the difference between frequency and time domains.
  • Understand how Fourier analysis is used to explain the makeup of various waveforms.
Pulse Generators

Objectives:

  • Determine the voltage across a charging or discharging capacitor at any instant of time.
  • Calculate the current through an RL circuit.
  • Learn about time constants and the relationship between time-constant and integrating or differentiating circuits.
  • Explore the operation of multivibrators.
  • Read about Schmitt triggers.
Wave-Shaping Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn about the difference between a clipper and a limiter.
  • Recognize a baseline stabilizer capable of stabilizing to zero volts.
  • Explain how a waveform can be clamped to a positive or negative voltage.
  • Discover why a doc (direct-current) restorer circuit is sometimes needed.
  • Study the clamping circuit and the saw maker circuit.
  • Explain how amplifiers change the characteristics of a pulse.
Timing

Objectives:

  • Explore timers and how they’re used in spot welders.
  • Learn about other applications of timers.
  • Explain the purpose of each internal part of the 555 IC (integrated-circuit) timer.
  • Learn how counters are used for timing.
  • Explain how a one-shot multivibrator can be used.
  • Compare the 555 and 3905 IC timers.
Pulse Circuit Applications

Objectives:

  • Study the modifications of a basic timing circuit.
  • Learn how the 555 timer can be used in various applications.
  • Describe how pulses are used for measuring both voltage and capacity.
  • Learn how switching regulators work in power-supply systems.
Troubleshooting Pulse Circuits

Objectives:

  • List the characteristics of pulses to be tested.
  • Compare the troubleshooting of pulse circuits with that of other systems.
  • Determine which part of digital and pulse circuits to test first in quick troubleshooting procedures.
  • Explain the use of logic analyzers and the purpose of single-step testing.
  • Learn about the troubleshooting techniques for a microprocessor system.

Unit 12

Logic Circuit Fundamentals

Objectives:

  • Learn the terms commonly used in electronic logic.
  • Identify the symbols of electronic logic in system diagrams.
  • Explain those simple logic circuits used in industrial machinery.
  • Learn how to draw simple logic diagrams, and interpret those that others have drafted.
  • Recognize the logic circuits that use discrete components.
  • Read about Boolean logic.
Introduction to Number Systems

Objectives:

  • Explain the binary numbering used by computers and digital electronics equipment.
  • Learn about hexadecimal notation and octal numbers.
  • Count in binary, octal, and hexadecimal numbers and perform simple calculations.
  • Convert values from one number system to another.
  • Explain the main advantage of the binary-coded decimal (BCD) system as compared with the ordinary binary number system.
Logic Devices and Diagrams

Objectives:

  • Draw logic diagrams that conform to a desired logic function.
  • Define Boolean variables, terms, and expressions.
  • Trace logic circuitry through gates, whether they're discrete or parts of ICs.
  • Figure out the logic equivalents for complex logic circuits.
  • Simplify logic circuitry through Karnaugh mapping.
  • Recognize those binary patterns that produce a particular result in logic circuitry.
  • Compile truth tables for complex logic functions.
Logic Families

Objectives:

  • Study the major families of digital logic ICs.
  • Identify a logic family from its operating parameters.
  • Describe IC packaging for logic components.
  • Understand such logic-device qualities as noise immunity and noise margin.
  • Explain the meaning of fan-in and fan-out.
  • Interpret specification sheets for logic ICs.
Applications of Logic Circuits

Objectives:

  • Learn about the functions of digital circuits composed of simple logic gates.
  • Design a simple binary ladder for digital-to-analog conversion.
  • Compile truth tables for sequential logic devices.
  • Recognize the diagram symbols for various types of flip-flops.
  • Read timing diagrams for flip-flops and counters.
  • Explain registers, counters, decoders, and multiplexers.
  • Discover how logic registers perform arithmetic operations.
Troubleshooting Logic Circuits

Objectives:

  • Identify expected logic levels by measuring DC supply voltages.
  • List key specifications for logic circuit test equipment.
  • Trace logic functions with a logic probe, and identify errors.
  • Learn how to use an oscilloscope as a logic tracer.
  • Describe the fundamental operations of a logic analyzer.
  • Wire up a logic probe of your own.
  • Calculate approximate frequency of a digital signal from oscilloscope readings.
  • Learn about replacing MOS (metal-oxide semiconductor) devices without damage to them or to the system equipment.
Additional Unit Materials

Reference Lessons:

  • Personal Safety, Part 1
  • Personal Safety, Part 2

Learning Aid: Safe Use of Hand Tools

Unit 13

Linear and Digital Circuit Principles

Objectives:

  • Draw transfer curves for functions of both linear and digital devices.
  • Explain the nature of analog operation, as compared to digital.
  • Describe the operation and uses of Hall-effect devices.
  • Identify circuits wired up from linear or digital ICs.
  • Draw diagrams of common linear and digital circuit hookups.
  • Recognize applications for the popular SSI (small-scale integration) and MSI (medium-scale integration) digital lCs.
Integrated-Circuit Techniques

Objectives:

  • Name the materials and processes used in IC fabrication, and list their purposes.
  • Locate the data you need in order to use ICs properly.
  • Understand and use manufacturers' numbering systems.
  • Explain the key parameters for most linear and digital IC devices.
  • Discuss typical applications for digital and linear technologies.
  • Describe the technologies incorporated in hybrid ICs.
Linear Integrated Circuits

Objectives:

  • Diagram the concepts of sensing and process control with linear ICs.
  • Recognize diagrams for common linear devices and functions.
  • List several kinds of analog IC amplifiers.
  • Describe the operation of a general-purpose op amp (operational amplifier).
  • Explain how an active filter works.
  • Follow the operation of a phase-locked-loop IC.
Digital Integrated Circuits

Objectives:

  • Read logic diagrams for digital IC devices and functions.
  • Explain the inputs and outputs of several digital ICs.
  • Distinguish which kinds of latches or flip-flops an advanced IC uses.
  • Differentiate between a shift register and a port register.
  • Explain the difference between asynchronous and synchronous counters.
  • Discuss the difference between bus drivers and display drivers.
Integrated-Circuit Logic Systems

Objectives:

  • Interpret full-scale schematic diagrams for industrial equipment.
  • Interchange digital devices in designs without destroying performance.
  • Explain the kinds of buses used for industrial digital systems.
  • List uses for logic gates in systems that perform industrial tasks.
  • Relate digital systems to specific operations.
Troubleshooting Linear and Digital IC Systems

Objectives:

  • Approach troubleshooting with a systems outlook.
  • Verify inputs to linear and digital sections and subsystems.
  • Use a digital multimeter appropriately in IC systems.
  • Choose a proper instrument for each troubleshooting test.
  • Identify IC and connector socket pins for troubleshooting.
  • Interpret indications from a clip-on logic tester.
  • Wire up test jigs that save troubleshooting time.
  • Analyze oscilloscope waveforms in linear IC stages.
Additional Unit Materials

Lab Manuals:

  • Experiments with Pulse Circuits
  • Experiments with Logic Circuits
  • Experiments with Linear Integrated Circuit

Learning Aids:

  • Parts Kits for Experiments 1–3
  • Digital Trainer

Unit 14

Industrial Computer Fundamentals

Objectives:

  • Describe some of the limitations of early industrial computers.
  • Explain how analog computers evolved and why their popularity waned.
  • Learn about the differences in the ways analog and digital computers are used.
  • Discover why digital computers have largely supplanted analog types.
  • List some important manufacturing tasks undertaken by modern computers.
Digital and Analog Systems

Objectives:

  • Study the fundamental principles of digital and analog computer systems.
  • Recognize commonly used analog computer diagram symbols, and explain their meanings.
  • Describe the functioning of open and closed loops.
  • Differentiate between switched and proportional-control schemes.
  • Name several types of proportional-control arrangements.
Software and Programming

Objectives:

  • Describe those industrial systems that need software.
  • List some of the sources of industrial software.
  • Recognize the standard symbols used in industrial control diagrams.
  • Explain how to use ladder logic, machine and assembly language, and BASIC.
  • Learn how to layout simple control problems in terms of Boolean algebra.
  • Write control algorithms in ladder logic.
  • Use fundamental logic simplification techniques.
Computer-Aided Control Systems

Objectives:

  • Learn how to draw a block diagram of a CAD/CAM system.
  • Describe the equipment needed for computer-aided graphics.
  • Recognize CAD/CAM software.
  • List some requirements for selecting a CAD or CAM system.
  • Explain the benefits of computer aid in industrial operations.
  • Cite applications for computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).
Interfacing Principles

Objectives:

  • List the services that interface devices perform.
  • Describe the nature of serial and parallel data movements.
  • Discuss methods for converting analog data to digital data.
  • Explain signal conditioning.
  • Draw an ordinary analog/digital control loop and identify its components.
  • Describe the parity method of checking data transfers for errors.

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view an Electronics Technician sample lesson, click here.

Electronics Technician Certification and Program Details

Graduates of the Electronics Technician Program will be prepared to take the Student Electronics Technician (SET) and the Associate Electronics Technician (CETa) certification through the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA-I).

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need:

  • The tools of the trade, like different types of electronic circuits: amplifiers, oscillators, and power supplies
  • Resonant circuits, electronic sensors, and audio and RF circuits
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs

Electronics technicians maintain and replace a variety of electronics in computers, entertainment, and broadcast equipment. Here are a few qualities that effective electronics technicians have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Cooperative: You are pleasant, receptive, and work well with others.
  • Honest: Your work requires integrity and a good sense of ethics.
  • Persistent: Your job requires focus and determination in the face of obstacles.

Penn Foster made my goal easily attainable while working a full-time job. I've always been a "Tech Freak" and love to know what makes the world go round. Now I have the credentials to find employment in the career field of "endless opportunities." Thanks to the wonderful staff at Penn Foster, I will further my education here, because "I will never become too old to learn" :) Getting an education in my remote location was simply awesome. They sent all the courses and parts to me overseas. They even sent a digital training suitcase for building/running/troubleshooting circuit experiments.

- Joel M., Electronics Technician graduate

This is an excellent way to either learn the basics or refresh your skills in electronics at your pace. Textbooks are easy to understand and the skill kits really made the experience well worth it! This is not the first program I have taken with Penn Foster. I have been enrolled in career diploma and degree programs since 1996. Great credentials.

- Michael L., Electronics Technician graduate

The Electronics Technician Program allowed me to complete my basic qualifications as an Instrument & Control Technician with my employer. This program is very beneficial to any job involving electronics, covering basic electronics to the intermediate level. My experience with Penn Foster has been very educational, and I look forward to another opportunity with this institution.

- Joshua S., Electronics Technician graduate

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Graduate debt free with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids, including electronics practice kits, digital multimeter, digital training lab with four parts kits, soldering iron, and desoldering pump
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Electronics Technician academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

¹ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, on the Internet here.

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