The Electronic Technician (ET) and other technical rates such as the Aviation Electronic Technician (AT) provide electronic maintenance and repair services for the fleet, shore-based installations and aircraft. Within this broad field training is provided in one of many specialties.
As computers and other sophisticated electronic gear became a normal part of the Navy's operational needs the ETs and the other technicians became more and more important to the smooth functioning of the Navy's duties.
Prospective ETs agree to a six-year initial enlistment in the Navy before basic training. They must be a high school graduate or equivalent, a U.S. citizen with no criminal record, and eligible for a security clearance. A strong mathematical background is highly recommended.
Training is done at Navy Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois. All students first go through a basic Apprentice Technical Training (ATT) and then the Electronics Technician "A" school. Those going into the nuclear field attend "A" school at Naval Weapons Station Charleston in Goose Creek, South Carolina.
After "A" school further training in specialties are done in various "C" schools around the country. All total, the complete training can take up to two years.
The ET curriculum covers the theory behind digital and analog electronics, hands-on maintenance, troubleshooting, calibration and repair of the basic instruments they will see in the fleet. The Navy takes the assumption that on a ship at sea parts may not be available, so emphasis is given to fixing what is broken. Quotas fill up early for available classes. The American Council on Education recommends that colleges consider the ET training as equivalent to a number of college courses.
The ET rate divides into surface, sub-surface and nuclear specialties, each with its own required training. Other rates such as the Fire Controlman (FC) and Interior Communications (IC) can often find themselves overlapping with similar duties and responsibilities and therefore often attend the same training. The nuclear-specialized ETs can volunteer for even further training in the submarine community.
ETs deviate from the standard Navy advancement pattern. Many of them are promoted to Petty Officer 2nd Class (E-5) immediately after graduation from "C" school and before being transferred to the fleet. This can mean a quick promotion up to the Chief Petty Officer ranks once the time in service requirement is fulfilled.
After the Navy
ETs are some of the most highly trained individuals in the Navy, and that training translates quite well into the civilian world. Computer programmer, electronics technician, data communications specialist and technical writer are just a few of the jobs they qualify for.
- Photo Credit electronics image by Stanisa Martinovic from Fotolia.com
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