Electrical Maintenance and Automation

Electrical maintenance technicians are responsible for the maintenance, testing, repair, and/or replacement of the electrical systems and controls found in modern industrial plants and large commercial buildings.

As the electrical systems become more sophisticated, so must the skills of the electrical maintenance technician. By mixing the theoretical with practical hands-on lab experiences using modern up-to-date industrial equipment and techniques, the student will be prepared for a challenging career in electrical maintenance.


Electrical maintenance and automation courses may be taken whenever they are offered and in any sequence as long as the student has fulfilled any prerequisites or has instructor permission. This plan allows a great deal of flexibility for people in the industry.

Potential students should possess a mechanical aptitude, good reading comprehension skills and the ability to pass a color blindness test.

Words from Graduates:

"My job is always challenging because there is always something new to learn - new technologies, new techniques. You need a lot of training to enter this field, and you need to continually upgrade and update your skills and knowledge. At SCC I received hands-on training in a wide variety of applications-motors, generators, robotics and power distribution. This gave me a broader background and understanding than I would have been exposed to otherwise. That's important because this is one field where you have to know why you do something, not just what to do."
Ardee Ableman
SCC graduate
Electrical inspector, City of Spokane

Tim Loepker
SCC graduate
Substation operator, Bonneville Power Administration
"This is the best trade to be in because it's so challenging. Every day my job brings something different-including new problems to solve. You have to use your head all the time, think on your feet and apply what you learn. It takes effort to learn electrical theory, but when you get into the field, you'll apply everything you've learned. So study hard; it pays off."

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.

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.

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.

Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
All course offerings are subject to change. The college cannot guarantee class offerings, designated times or specific instructors - as funding levels and student interest may affect whether or not an offering is available.

Click on the course title to view course description.

Course Title Credits
For more information.... For more information:
Rod Hedman, Instructor
Bill Rambo, Counselor
(509) 533-7038