search this site

Electrical Maintenance and Automation Technology
Common Questions

What is the electrical maintenance field like?

Worldwide, there is an explosion in the use of automated equipment. Enter the door of any major business - whether it's a hospital, manufacturing plant, power utility or office building - and you will find that it is dependent upon electricity to power the equipment, and that it is a responsibility of maintenance electricians to keep things running.

With such vast potential, the electrical maintenance field offers variety, challenge, security and advancement potential.

What electrical programs does Spokane Community College offer?

SCC's electrical department offers two Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs: Electrical Maintenance and Automation, and Power Systems Maintenance Technician (Bonneville Power apprentices only).

Both programs share a four-quarter core curriculum that is made up of in-depth electrical theory and hands-on lab experience. Two additional quarters of specialized training complete each program. For those students who can only make a three-quarter commitment to their education, an electrical trainee certificate program is also available.

New students may enter these programs during fall or winter quarters. The programs are designed for people who want to work for businesses or industries in the fields of electrical maintenance and automation. They are not appropriate for people interested in becoming residential electricians.

What do electrical maintenance and automation electricians do?

Every hospital, school, college and industrial complex needs people who can maintain and repair electrical systems. A typical workday is filled with variety: tasks may be as simple as repairing a fluorescent light or changing bearings on an electric motor, or they may be as involved as troubleshooting and repairing complex motor control circuits and Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) systems. From simple tasks to complex, electrical maintenance and automation electricians must abide by a variety of local, state and national codes.

Entry-level electricians have the opportunity to gain journey level status, and to advance to foreman or other supervisory positions where they will establish work schedules and set priorities for an entire maintenance crew.

Return to the top of the page

What do power systems maintenance technicians do?

Power system maintenance technicians maintain and operate the electrical power grid throughout the Northwest. To be eligible for this degree, you must be chosen as a Bonneville Power apprentice.

What do I need to be successful in this field?

A good math background, manual dexterity, mechanical aptitude, critical thinking and reasoning are important attributes for both programs. All students must pass a test for color blindness because of the use of color-coding in the industry. Women generally have been well-accepted in the field, although there may be restrictions in some jobs because of heavy lifting.

What classes will I take?

These two SCC programs - electrical maintenance and automation, and power systems maintenance technician - are separate six-quarter programs, but they share a common four-quarter curriculum. The first four quarters build a basic foundation in the electrical field through theory, safety, national electrical code and motor control.

Common core courses include electrical math, materials and fasteners, electrical theory, safety and tools, DC circuits, raceways, AC and DC motors, solid state fundamentals, DC and AC motor controls, national electrical codes. Students also take courses in first aid, technical writing, and leadership and computer fundamentals.

After completing the basics, students specialize during their final two quarters of instruction. Those who choose to study electrical maintenance and automation learn about programmable logic controllers and advanced motor control circuits. Those who select power systems maintenance as their specialty study hydraulic and pneumatic theory in their fifth quarter, followed by a cooperative education work experience in their final quarter.

Return to the top of the page

Where will I find a job?

With the ever-increasing use of electrical power and automated systems, it is likely there always will be jobs for graduates from either of these programs.

Typically, the electrical maintenance and automation electrician will find employment in large institutions or specialized manufacturing facilities. Examples are entry-level positions with city, county and federal agencies, hospitals, colleges and school districts, water districts, utilities, and manufacturing firms.

How much will I earn?

In the Inland Northwest, starting salaries for electricians in both of these specialized fields range from $12 to $19 per hour, with the potential to advance to $15,000 to $60,000 per year. Advancements depend on the person's work ethic, personality, skills and the employer. For those who choose to leave the area, starting salaries typically are higher.

For more information....For more information:
Contact:Rod Hedman
Phone: (509) 533-7158
Contact:Bill Rambo
Phone: (509) 533-7038
For additional contacts, please
refer to the online directory for this department

You can also submit an online information request
or get our address to write for more information

You may be eligible for free tuition!
Follow this link to learn more.

Spokane Community College
1810 N. Greene St.
Spokane, WA 99217-5399
For general information call:
509-533-7000 or
© 1997-2014
Spokane Community College
All rights reserved