Printed circuit board test technician

Printed circuit board test technician

Description

Printed circuit board test technicians inspect and test printed circuit boards. They perform a range of printed circuit board testing procedures and may perform minor repairs.

Duties

Printed circuit board technicians typically do the following:

  • Perform routine SMT soldering and desoldering of fine pitch electronic components on Printed Circuit Boards under a microscope.
  • Inspect PCB Electronic Assemblies for defects; solder quality, parts alignment, missing parts, visual damage, etc
  • Test PCBs for failures; repair / rework defects
  • Assist in building and testing products the team designs
  • Ensure laboratory readiness in support of all product development activities
  • Manage inventory and replenishment of laboratory supplies
  • Perform system integration and validation testing activities, including verification of interoperability
  • Measurement data collection and reporting for products in development
  • Provide support for the product at customer sites and manufacturing locations

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to printed circuit board test technician:

PCB tester
printed circuit board inspection technician
PCB test operator
printed circuit board tester
PCB inspection technician
test technician for PCBs
test technician for printed circuit boards
printed circuit board test operator
PCB test technician

Minimum qualifications

Most new printed circuit board test technicians will have an associate’s degree in electronics or similar training through a technical school. However, some test technicians have learned their skills through several years of experience in a job instead of earning a degree. Typically any sort of electronics or related education is a plus for new test technicians.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Printed circuit board test technician is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Printed circuit board test technician career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to printed circuit board test technician.

automated optical inspection operator
electronic equipment inspector
wave soldering machine operator
precision device inspector
surface-mount technology machine operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of printed circuit board test technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of printed circuit board test technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

computer hardware test technician
calibration technician
microelectronics engineering technician
electronics production supervisor
electronics engineering technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of printed circuit board test technician.

  • Circuit diagrams: Read and comprehend circuit diagrams showing the connections between the devices, such as power and signal connections.
  • Quality assurance procedures: The procedures to inspect a product or system to ensure that it is according to specifications and requirements.
  • Electronic equipment standards: The national and international quality and safety standards and regulations with regards to the use and manufacture of electronic equipment and its components, such as semiconductors and printed circuit boards.
  • Integrated circuits: Electronic components, made up from a set of electronic circuits which are placed on semiconductor material, such as silicon. Integrated circuits (IC) can hold billions of electronic components on a microscale and are one of basic components of electronic devices.
  • Printed circuit boards testing methods: Printed circuit board (PCB) testing methods consist of those processes in which PCB components or systems are tested, such as the in-circuit test (ICT), joint test action group (JTAG) test, and automated optical inspection (AOI).
  • Instrument performance elements: Elements that indicate or influence instrument performance. A first indication of the performance of the instrument is the accuracy or precision of the instrument, such as its response time, resolution, and range. A second indication of performance is the technical performance of the instrument, such as its power level, the electromagnetic interference, and transient voltages. A third indication of performance are environmental factors that can influence instrument performance, such as humidity, operating temperatures, or dust.
  • Printed circuit boards: Printed circuit boards (PCB) are essential components to almost all electronic devices. They consist of thin wafers or substrates on which electronic components, such as microchips, are placed. The electronic components are electrically connected through conductive tracks and pads.
  • Electronics: The functioning of electronic circuit boards, processors, chips, and computer hardware and software, including programming and applications. Apply this knowledge to ensure electronic equipment runs smoothly.
  • In-circuit test: Test to assess the correct manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCB). The in-circuit test (ICT) tests for shorts, resistance, and capacitance, and can be performed with a “bed of nails” tester or with a fixtureless in-circuit test (FICT).

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of printed circuit board test technician.

  • Process customer requests based on the reach regulation 1907 2006: Reply to private consumer requests according to REACh Regulation 1907/2006 whereby chemical Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) should be minimal. Advise customers on how to proceed and protect themselves if the presence of SVHC is higher than expected.
  • Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
  • Measure electrical characteristics: Measure voltage, current, resistance or other electrical characteristics by using electrical measuring equipment such as multimeters, voltmeters, and ammeters.
  • Perform in-circuit test: Conduct in-circuit test (ICT) to assess whether the printed circuit boards (PCB) were correctly manufactured. The ICT tests for shorts, resistance, and capacitance, and can be performed with a “bed of nails” tester or with a fixtureless in-circuit test (FICT).
  • Read assembly drawings: Read and interpret drawings listing all the parts and subassemblies of a certain product. The drawing identifies the different components and materials and provides instructions on how to assemble a product.
  • Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
  • Perform test run: Perform tests putting a system, machine, tool or other equipment through a series of actions under actual operating conditions in order to assess its reliability and suitability to realise its tasks, and adjust settings accordingly.
  • Check for solder defects: Check the printed circuit board for solder defects and make adjustments as required.
  • Read standard blueprints: Read and comprehend standard blueprints, machine, and process drawings.
  • Communicate test results to other departments: Communicate testing information such as testing schedules, samples testing statistics and test results, to the relevant departments.
  • Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
  • Report defective manufacturing materials: Maintain required company records and forms in order to report any defective materials or questionable conditions of manufacturing machinery and equipment.
  • Abide by regulations on banned materials: Comply with regulations banning heavy metals in solder, flame retardants in plastics, and phthalate plasticisers in plastics and wiring harness insulations, under EU RoHS/WEEE Directives and China RoHS legislation.
  • Send faulty equipment back to assembly line: Send equipment that didn’t pass inspection back to the assembly line for re-assembly.
  • Test printed circuit boards: Test the printed circuit board with special testing adapters to ensure optimal efficiency, functionality, and that everything works according to design. Adapt the testing devices to the type of circuit board.
  • Ensure material compliance: Ensure that the materials provided by suppliers comply with the specified requirements.
  • Ensure conformity to specifications: Ensure that the assembled products are conform to the specifications given.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of printed circuit board test technician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Microelectronics: Microelectronics is a subdiscipline of electronics and relates the study, design, and manufacture of small electronic components, such as microchips.
  • Hardware testing methods: Those processes in which hardware components or systems are tested, such as the system test (ST), the ongoing reliability test (ORT), and the in-circuit test (ICT).
  • IPC standards: Standards and guidelines with regards to the use and manufacture of electronics and printed circuit boards. These regulations provide rules and guidelines on topics such as general safety rules, electronic equipment manufacture, electronic equipment testing, and qualifications.
  • Through-hole technology: Through-hole technology or THT is a method of mounting electronic components onto the printed circuit board through inserting leads on the components into holes in the circuit board and soldering the components to the board. THT components attached in this way are usually larger than SMT components, such as capacitors or coils.
  • Waste removal regulations: Know and understand the regulations and legal agreements governing the performance of waste removal activities.
  • Surface-mount technology: Surface-mount technology or SMT is a method where the electronic components are placed on the surface of the printed circuit board. SMT components attached in this way are usually sensitive, small components such as resistors, transistors, diodes, and integrated circuits.
  • Quality standards: The national and international requirements, specifications and guidelines to ensure that products, services and processes are of good quality and fit for purpose.
  • Automated optical inspection: During automated optical inspection (AOI), printed circuit boards (PCB) or surface-mount devices (SMD) are inspected by means of an automated optical inspection machine. During each automated optical inspection test, dozens of images are captured with a special camera and compared to previous assembled boards to detect any anomalies.
  • Semiconductors: Semiconductors are essential components of electronic circuits and contain properties of both insulators, such as glass, and conductors, such as copper. Most semiconductors are crystals made of silicon or germanium. By introducing other elements in the crystal through doping, the crystals turn into semiconductors. Depending on the amount of electrons created by the doping process, the crystals turn into N-type semiconductors, or P-type semiconductors.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of printed circuit board test technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Apply soldering techniques: Apply and work with a variety of techniques in the process of soldering, such as soft soldering, silver soldering, induction soldering, resistance soldering, pipe soldering, mechanical and aluminium soldering.
  • Monitor machine operations: Observe machine operations and evaluate product quality thereby ensuring conformity to standards.
  • Resolve equipment malfunctions: Identify, report and repair equipment damage and malfunctions; communicate with field representatives and manufacturers to obtain repair and replacement components.
  • Remove defective products: Remove defective materials from the production line.
  • Test hardware: Test computer hardware systems and components using appropriate equipment and testing methods, such as the system test (ST), the ongoing reliability test (ORT), and the in-circuit test (ICT). Monitor and evaluate system performance and take action if needed.
  • Operate automated optical inspection machine: Inspect the quality of assembled printed circuit boards (PCB) or surface-mount devices (SMD) through operating the automated optical inspection machine. During each test, dozens of images are captured with a special camera and compared to previous assembled boards.
  • Research equipment needs: Research equipment or required machine parts; compare sources, prices and delivery times.
  • Maintain test equipment: Maintain equipment used for testing the quality of systems and products.
  • Apply technical communication skills: Explain technical details to non-technical customers, stakeholders, or any other interested parties in a clear and concise manner.
  • Liaise with engineers: Collaborate with engineers to ensure common understanding and discuss product design, development and improvement.
  • Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
  • Write inspection reports: Write the results and conclusions of the inspection in a clear and intelligible way. Log the inspection’s processes such as contact, outcome, and steps taken.
  • Write records for repairs: Write records of the repairs and maintenance interventions undertaken, of parts and materials used, and other repair facts.

ISCO group and title

7543 – Product graders and testers (excluding foods and beverages)


References
  1. Printed circuit board test technician – ESCO
  2. 5 Main Factors of PCB Test Technician Job Description – PCBUY.COM
  3. Featured image: Photo by Blaz Erzetic from Pexels
Last updated on October 23, 2022

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