Electronics manufacturers' products can be divided into four basic categories: government products, industrial products, consumer products, and electronic components. The first category, government products, represents a high percentage of sales in the industry. Missile and space guidance systems, communications systems, medical technology, and traffic control devices are just a few of these high-priced, high-tech products. These products are used by the military and by government agencies for a variety of functions.
Industrial products, the second category, includes large-scale computers, radio and television broadcasting equipment, telecommunications equipment, and electronic office equipment. Industrial products also include testing and measuring instruments, industrial control and processing equipment, electronic instruments for nuclear work, and radiation detection devices.
The third category, consumer products, is the most commonly known area within the electronics industry and includes such things as cell phones, DVD players, smartphones, televisions, radios, and video game systems. Personal computers, tablets, electronic ovens, and home intercommunication and alarm systems are also included in this category.
The fourth category is actually the largest, as its products are sold to many of the companies that make up the previous three categories. It is made up of the small pieces that all electronics consist of: components. Integrated circuits, capacitors, switches, transistors, relays, micro-chips, and amplifiers are among the most widely known electronic components.
Electronic components usually are classified in three broad groups: electron tubes, semiconductors, and passive components. Tubes include receiving, television picture, and various power and special-purpose tubes. Principal semiconductor devices are integrated circuits, microprocessors, transistors, diodes, and rectifiers. In the United States, the semiconductor business is the largest. Passive components include capacitors, resistors, transformers, relays, connectors, and switches.
Computer and electronics manufacturing employs about 1 million workers, according to the Department of Labor. Approximately 298,440 of these hold production occupations, including assemblers, fabricators, and other machine operators. These workers put together the various parts of an electrical device and inspect and test equipment before it is shipped out. Engineers and engineering technicians account for more than 217,470 workers, including more than 35,090 electronics engineers. However, the industry also employs many other types of engineers, such as aerospace engineers, biomedical engineers, chemical engineers, and industrial engineers. More than 136,940 computer professionals, primarily software developers and engineers, also work in the industry. Executive, managerial, and administrative workers occupy about 106,230 jobs, and the remainder are clerical and sales and service positions.
There is a clear division in union and nonunion workers, with assemblers and nonmanagement personnel union-eligible. The principal unions involved in electronics manufacturing are the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.