Technicians and technologists provide engineers, scientists and other professionals with technical support. They may work in offices, laboratories, test areas or job sites. They are involved in all types of technical fields including computers, civil engineering, building engineering, electrical engineering, food and biopharmaceuticals.
“Technicians” refers to professionals with one to two years of post-secondary education. Their technical skills qualify them to perform specific tasks such as manufacturing, testing, installation, repair, inspection, sampling and maintenance.
“Technologists” take a three-year program at the college level. They have taken more advanced theoretical courses in math, engineering or science. They can do the same tasks as technicians along with taking on supervisory duties and more advanced analyses.
- Provide technical support and oversight
- Apply the techniques related to their profession and perform all the technical activities pertaining to their area of expertise
- Participate in preparing and checking various documents
- Participate in problem-solving
- May provide technical support and/or user training
- May be required to install equipment
- Design products
- Solve problems
- Interpret data
- Perform complex troubleshooting
- Prepare estimates
- Scheduling and planning
- Analyze data
- Manage projects
- Take decisions
- Post-secondary education of one or two years for technicians
- Three-year college diploma for technologists
- For some jobs, accreditation from provincial associations of technicians and technologists after two years of supervised experience is required
- Ability to work on a team
- Good analytical skills
- Ability to adapt to a new environment and/or a new team
- Attention to detail
Salary depends on experience, responsibility and project size. Generally speaking, technologists make more money than technicians. Annual salaries range from $30,000 to $40,000 dollars.
With complementary studies, technicians can become technologists . Similarly, technologists can become engineers with further schooling. Given the inherent responsibilities in these jobs, experience alone does not justify going from a technician to a technologist, or a technologist to an engineer. These jobs being very specialized, moving up the ladder is done via tests and diplomas.
WHAT THE PROS SAY
LAURA PAPADOPOULOS, CIVIL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIST
Laura Papadopoulos is a technologist specializing in examining the quality of concrete. She has decided to continue studying in civil engineering, so as to become an engineer and have greater responsibilities.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS CAREER?
I think of construction projects as sculptures—there’s something artistic about participating in the building of massive structures. Moreover, the work is very varied. I never have time to be bored. The job sites are always different, as are the problems I face. I get to meet new people all the time. It’s all very rewarding.
IS IT EASY TO FIND WORK IN THIS FIELD?
There is a big future in this field. As long as the population increases, there will be a demand to build new housing, or to renovate old housing. There are new materials and equipment to be invented, particularly in the design of “green houses” and in the area of sustainable development.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE STARTING OUT IN THIS FIELD?
You should go to school, since the more education you have, the more responsibility you are given afterward. There is a big gap between what I learned in school and what I’m doing now, however. That’s why you should do as many internships as you can, so as to be able to find your way around on a job site. Finally, you need to demonstrate leadership skills to work in this field, to make sure that guidelines are observed to the letter.