Electronics Research Study Hobbyists State Electronics Skills Are Critical to Fueling The American Economy

The Great American Electronics Hobbyist Study

Of the more than 1700 participants in our electronics study, The Great American Electronics Hobbyists Research Study, 68% stated that electronics skills are critical to fueling the American economy. Electronics provides technical knowledge and skills that are beneficial to the American workforce and it's also a seemingly addictive hobby. What typically starts in childhood continues throughout adulthood – the electronics hobbyist has spent an average of 35 years working on electronics projects.

The Jameco Electronics research study conducted in April 2015 targeted serious electronics hobbyists and found that over 55% stated their first experience with electronics involved taking something apart. We're not quite sure if they were ever able to put it back together after it was dismantled but we do know that the first experience had quite an impact. That initial spark fueled a lifetime infatuation with an electronics hobby.

Three-quarters of participants said they think about electronics in some form every day, completing an average of nine projects annually. When asked about the number of projects they are planning on completing in the future, the majority (57%) plan to complete more projects in the next 5 years than they've done in the previous 5 years.

One thing is clear among hobbyists, they understand the importance of the skillset and knowledge that comes along with the electronic hobby. Most (82%) believe that all American children should learn the basics of electronics and electricity. What's more is that 68% of respondents report teaching electronics to others.

The future of electronics as a hobby

The electronic research participants predicted a transition toward digital technologies. Most identified robotic science, microcontrollers and the maker movement as the driving force behind the hobby in the years to come but some noted that the use of analog components won't be so quick to fade. The majority of participants shared a belief that as components continue to miniaturize, prebuilt, modular or plug and play technologies will continue to gain popularity, especially among young hobbyists. Many mentioned that programming and computer skills will be of great benefit to the future of DIY electronics.

Hobbyist predictions are on track with economic data regarding the hobby. Growth of electronic component shipments rose nearly a full percentage point above the growth of the economy as a whole. A considerable amount of participants pointed out that the hobby has become increasingly more affordable and they predicted this trend to continue. They also mentioned that accessibility and idea sharing will help influence future innovation.

The electronics hobbyists of America

Jameco's research in electronics found that hobbyists are an educated group of individuals – 66% reported graduating from a four year college and 30% have completed a graduate degree. Nearly 35% of participants reported that they have no formal electronics education; most stated they were self-taught. Regardless of how they learned, the majority of hobbyists continue to spread enthusiasm for electronics.

Electronic Hobbyists' Education

The average age of participants is 56. In fact 75% were over the age of 46 while only 7% were age 30 or younger. It's also worth noting that 98% of participants were male, leaving only 2% of participants female. This is surprising considering that the 2012 National Science Foundation data reports 19% of all engineering field bachelor degrees were earned by women. Since studies have shown that women are more likely to participate in surveys as compared to men, we've concluded that balancing career, family and social activities likely contribute to a smaller number of female and young hobbyists.

Electronics hobbyists at play

When it comes to their projects, electronics hobbyists report spending much of their time (45%) designing their projects, while 24% of their time is spent on the build and 22% is spent fixing their project. The remaining time is reportedly spent enhancing the project or goofing around.

Electronics Project Time Spent

When asked what was the best electronic component invented in the past 50 years, participants stated the microprocessor, Internet, and integrated circuits. They listed microcontrollers, LEDs and transistors as their top three favorite electronic components. Their least favorites were SMDs, capacitors and inductors. Almost all participants (94%) admitted to saving a component they know they will never use.

To complete successful projects, the right tools need to be employed and our study found that hobbyists value their multimeters. When asked just how many multimeters they own, 64% reported three or more with less than 1% of hobbyists not owning a single multimeter.

We were curious as to where hobbyists prefer to work and discovered that projects are carried out in practically every room inside of the house, on a porch or inside of a garage. Most projects are done inside vs. out. 76% report that their electronics are done inside the house and roughly 16% report that most of their projects are completed outside or in the garage. The remaining 8% report not working on their hobby at home.

Working with electronics can be risky; 77% participants admitted that they had blown something up by accident and 38% report blowing something up on purpose. In regards to injuries, 43% have burned themselves while practicing their hobby over the past 12 months. There might be an additional advantage to the risks besides the plethora of skills and knowledge gained by practicing electronics... 8% report that electronics as a hobby helped them get a date.

These are just some of the highlights from the electronics research. If you're interested in receiving a PDF of the complete data analysis and statistics, send an email to [email protected] with "census" in the subject line and we'll send you a complimentary executive summary.

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