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Job Title:
Electronics Technician (Aerospace), IS-0856, Grade 9; $61,268 - $79,650 annually
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:   Open to all qualified candidates eligible to work in the United States.

Note: First consideration may be made after 14 days of the opening date of this vacancy.


The purpose of the position is to provide technician support to the fabrication, assembly, test and integration of electronics for both space-borne and ground based instrumentation and its associated test and ground support equipment.



1. Work from schematics, prints, sketches, specifications and/or verbal instructions to fabricate prototype and/or deliverable hardware electronics.

2. Populates complex thru-hole and surface-mount printed circuit board assemblies. Fulfills the requirements for soldering certification to IPC and/or NASA standards.

3. Constructs multi-conductor and coaxial cables and cable harness assemblies using crimp and solder methods

4. Assembles and wires industrial automation style control panels and cabinets using DIN rail mounted components and wiring methods.

5. Integrates discrete components, printed circuit boards, and interconnecting cables into higher level electronics assemblies. Solves layout problems of size, weight, and shape to determine the optimum layout of component parts and makes corresponding design recommendations to engineering staff.

6. Incorporates knowledge of electronic circuit design theory to develop and perform functional testing of electronics systems and their component parts.

7. Conceives and develops methods of assembling and packaging critical and complex electronic assemblies and components.

8. Identifies and implements changes required to resolve design problems in various electro-mechanical assemblies.

9. Conducts circuit tests utilizing various types of electronic test equipment. May conduct other electronics testing following formal test procedures or under verbal direction from engineering staff.

10. Conducts environmental testing of precision assemblies. Documents and analyzes test results in accordance with project specific test procedures.

11. Documents work performed, including generating wire run lists, parts lists, etc.

12. May initiate parts/materials requisitions.

13. Possible travel to NASA centers, observatories, and other customer locations for instrument installations and service, to support test and integration of SAO-built instrumentation, and for related mission support activities. This could involve both domestic and foreign travel.

14. Performs related duties as required.


Individual Occupation requirements: 

  • knowledge of the techniques and theories characteristic of electronics, such as a knowledge of basic electricity and electronic theory, algebra, and elementary physics;
  • knowledge of electronic equipment design, development, evaluation, testing, installation, and maintenance; and
  • knowledge of the capabilities, limitations, operations, design, characteristics, and functional use of a variety of types and models of electronic equipment and systems related to, but less than, a full professional knowledge of electronic engineering.

Electronics technicians may have gained experience assisting in work situations including:

Maintenance - Developing maintenance standards and procedures for use by others. Analyzing repair practices and developing procedural instructions for use by others on methods and steps to repair equipment.

Installation - Planning and directing the installation of complex systems and associated facilities, particularly where there are site selection and construction problems, dealings with contractors and public utilities, and the possible need to modify equipment for novel site characteristics.

Fabrication - Designing and analyzing circuits, determining design feasibility, evaluating equipment performance under varying environmental conditions, and collecting performance data. Designing or modifying designs to achieve performance and cost objectives. Evaluating the adequacy of equipment for such purposes as repair, calibration, and testing.

Testing and Evaluation/Research and Development - Developing or evaluating new or modified electronic systems. Completing testing, evaluating data, and determining acceptability of equipment modifications, validity, test procedures and data, or legality of operation. Technicians support professional engineers in performing experiments, research, and developmental activities requiring an in-depth knowledge of technical engineering methods, applications, practices, and principles to work on concepts, prototypes, and experimental projects that are without precedent and support state-of-the-art research.

Sustainment - Developing, performing, evaluating, or modifying calibration and test equipment, systems, and procedures. Reporting, analyzing, and archiving test data. Performing complex calculations and manipulations of test data to improve performance of systems, instrumentation, measurement standards, techniques, and procedures.

Troubleshooting - Analyzing and diagnosing faults in the operational configuration of electronic systems and equipment. Interpreting circuit wiring, logic cable diagrams, drawings, specifications, and schematics of complete systems and equipment to understand the function and interconnections of the various assemblies and troubleshoot the system.

Qualification requirements include one year specialized experience at the next lower grade level. Specialized experience at this level includes ability to read and interpret schematic drawings, mechanical assembly drawings and other engineering technical data; ability to conduct testing of electronic systems and parts; knowledge of operating variety of analog and digital test equipment.

Or Two full years of graduate education or a master's degree meets the requirements for GS-9. Or a Combination: Education and experience may be combined to meet the basic qualifications.

For qualifications please visit opm website at

Application Procedures:  We are only accepting online applications for this position. To apply please visit USAJOBS

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.



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