Becoming a Certified Repair Tech

I am an applications engineer at Maxim Intergrated Products in the audio department. I have several years of experience with audio circuits, especially troubleshooting. I would like to become a certified repair tech for pro audio gear. I am not sure exactly which brands I would want to repair at the moment.

I have been trying to find out how to become a certified repair tech, but have not been able to find information about how to do it. Is there anyone here that has certification or knows how to get it?

I haven't gone to the effort of calling up the companies yet, I thought I'd ask here first.
 

bob91343

Member
2010-03-11 10:43 pm
I am perhaps out of line, but I have never heard of audio technician certification. I have been an audio technician, electronics circuit design engineer, consultant, stereo shop owner, ham radio operator, and much more, yet have never come across what you seek.

I hope nobody decides to start such a thing. I feel that certification is a pain and is of no value. Often used as a substitute for a degree, and as a harassment tool. See the recent state of Illinois debacle about someone not being allowed to call himself an engineer. Sheesh...
 
There are general electronics technician certifications that hold some weight, but not too much. The kind of "certification" you are probably most interested in, especially if you actually have an engineering degree, is nothing more than service center authorization by the manufacturer, and you would have to take that up with them individually. The requirements are sometimes many and not limited to the qualifications of the people in front of the benches.
 
Andrew, thanks for the response. I was trying to ask about service center authorization, I guess I used the wrong terminology. My immediate goal is to be able to obtain schematics of equpiment so I can repair and modify it more eaily. Is it possible to get schematics without this authorization?

It would be cool to get authorized as well. Do you know if you have to get trained for this authorization? What is the process?
 
I know for current model lines the drawings are often kept close to the chest by manufacturers and only distributed to servicers who are authorized for warranty service. "Cool" manufacturers have the schematics posted online on their corporate sites and in plain sight. Sometimes a manufacturer will want you to have a certain level of financial capacity and size of shop. Training is sometimes even provided by the manufacturer. If you are pretty sure you have what it takes to do warranty service, call the company's service department and they might be happy to let you know for sure. Far as getting service info on outdated product, it's a jungle out there. Some manufacturers wont even help you very much if you're currently doing warranty work for them. It's depends on how old, how popular, basically whether their bean counters think the company will get anything out of supporting you.
 
Andrew, thanks! I guess I will just have to start calling some companies. Who to start with though... I want to work on my Digi002 first, but I assume DigiDesign is one of the hardest companies to work with. I really like the idea of what Black Lion Audio is doing, I would like to do something very similar.

I eventually want to get into building my own gear, but it seems like repairing and modding is a good way to get experience first. I know all the basic concepts, but I have little experience with the actual implementations. There seems to be a lot of mysticism around which op amps to use etc... some research is in order!
 
One thing you will find out right away is that the closer to boutique or niche a company gets the more they are interested in handling service themselves. You might have an easier time just signing on at the company. No matter what company you approach, anyone who handles correspondence for the service department is probably quite familiar with sniffing out experimenters and developers looking to get themselves immersed in current technology rather than someone who can reliably and efficiently handle service volume for them.
 
When I fixed audio gear the requirement for being a qualified repair technician was pretty much left up to who was running the repair shop. As to repairing a specific brand of electronics that was left up to who ever was running the service department for that manufacturer - usually the primary requirement was that you were a retail store that was selling their gear and had paid them the distribution fee and signed non-disclosure agreements. Usually if you had technical training in the military or had graduated from a technical trade school you were considered good to go - an FCC license was a plus. Having a EE far surpasses graduating from the local junior collage with an AA in electronics - but the training for EE is a bit different than for a repair technician. Tech's get enough theory for trouble shooting - that is that they can understand HOW a circuit works but they usually can't design a circuit from scratch (wellllllll a really good and experienced tech should be able to - but not at an engineering level of design).
Your most valuable tool as a repair technician will be troubleshooting skills - and not electrocuting yourself!:p

If you have some experience working in the lab doing prototype buildup you should be ok -

BTW - IMO most of the gear that is sold "off the shelf" will NOT justify the cost of repair. You will need to do SMD lead free soldering of components and the LSI chips can be really nasty. Some of the "BIG" AVR's have chips, PLA's, u-processors, etc that require a factory test set to run - or a bench top PC with an interface and software.

I opened up a name brand stereo unit (yeah - a TWO channel thingy) and there was a uprocessor (SMD mounded) being used just to run the front panel display and interface with the front panel buttons and the IR remote control.
 
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tech certification

There is a certification program for electronic techs called "A+". Here in the midwest, if you are a certified A+ tech, you can command a princely $8 an hour at a computer repair hole near the airport/UPS hub. There is something more secretive from ISA, instrumentation society, that gets you into medical instruments, petroleum refineries etc at a lot more money. I found out about it after I quit working, hopefully forever. Audio, there is something certificate for musical instrument repair, but I don't know how to train for it, only how to look one up in your neighborhood.
 
When I fixed audio gear the requirement for being a qualified repair technician was pretty much left up to who was running the repair shop. As to repairing a specific brand of electronics that was left up to who ever was running the service department for that manufacturer - usually the primary requirement was that you were a retail store that was selling their gear and had paid them the distribution fee and signed non-disclosure agreements.

So do you think it's possible to get a manufacturers seal of approval being an small business with no store front?

Otherwise I suppose I could just start repairing gear that is out of warranty... but I still have the added hurdle of not having the schematics. Reverse engineering each piece of gear would be really time consuming.

If I wanted to repair a piece of gear that was out of warranty, do you think it's possible to get schematics? I guess that would be up to each company...
 
internet schematics

The best sources I have found for schematics on popular audio gear are eserviceinfo.com and schematics.ca. If you can download them, so can everybody else, but maybe you are better at understanding them than the next guy. Stuff that is not on there, sometimes you can get from here. There is also musicelectronicsforum.com for guitar type stuff. I've bought a couple of broken things on craigslist to see if I can make money on them if I make them work. There is a guy with a shop down the road that is johnny on the spot on CL for buying up stuff and reselling it, probably the only stuff I find is stuff he found he couldn't make money on.
 
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>I guess that would be up to each company...

Either that or the internet. Before the internet, reverse engineering as a servicer was more of a joke than a difficulty. It's too bad that when the days of hoarding every databook you could get your hands on were fianlly over so went most of the consumer electronics repair industry. It was suddenly fun and easy, and almost worthless.
 
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So do you think it's possible to get a manufacturers seal of approval being an small business with no store front?

Otherwise I suppose I could just start repairing gear that is out of warranty... but I still have the added hurdle of not having the schematics. Reverse engineering each piece of gear would be really time consuming.

If I wanted to repair a piece of gear that was out of warranty, do you think it's possible to get schematics? I guess that would be up to each company...

Well there are several places on the "net" to get schematics such as Service Manual free download,schematics,datasheets,eeprom bins,pcb,repair info for test equipment and electronics

The good money would be to do modifications to existing high end gear but that involves all of the "blues" of getting (and keeping) a small business growing (web site - word of mouth - some form of advertising that is affordable (hint - avoid "click per view" links) etc.

Getting approval from manufacturers is a crap shoot - YMMV
Keep your day job -
 
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