Career Quick Look
certificate in Electronic Technologies; two-year
certificate in Machine Tool Technology
Victoria Maestas's Resume
"Some of these guys will put up a front. They might seem
like they know it already - but they know as much as you do,"
Victoria says. As women, she says "we need to learn to show
"Every time I got laid off," Victoria says, "I came back
to the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute and I kept
up with the latest technologies. So when things turned around
the employers would notice, and it really paid off."
Getting Started: Victoria graduated high school in Albuquerque,
and as a young wife and mother she wanted to find work that
would help support her family. "I knew I needed to do something,
and bring in some money," she says. Her uncle was studying
electronics, and she knew it required solid math skills.
"In high school I had a lot of math," she says, "so
I figured I could probably do it. Then once I got into the program
itself, I started really enjoying it." She completed the
Electronic Technologies program in two years, and started her
first job in 1980.
Education: After high school, Victoria entered the Electronic
Technologies program at the Albuquerque Technical Vocational
Institute - known as TVI - and received her certificate in two
years. (These days, she works as a technician and instructor
at TVI, which now offers an Associate of Applied Science degree).
She'd taken math to Algebra, and having this math background
was helpful in getting started. Once they got into the practical,
hands-on exploration of how electronics works, she was hooked.
"That's when I really knew I would like it," she says.
Victoria believes a continuing education is always helpful in
any technical field. In 1989 she went back and earned a machining
certificate, which proved valuable when the electronics industry
was experiencing a mid-1980s slump. "Especially if you
get laid off," she says. "It's always good to go back
Greatest Professional Achievement: "I think my greatest
achievement is working here at TVI," Victoria says. "Students
know who I am, they can ask me questions, and I can give them
the benefit of my experience." She is especially proud
of her work in helping to establish the Women in Technologies
group at the school this year. They hold monthly meetings, host
speakers from various professional organizations, and offer
a chance for students to discuss their own questions and challenges.
"It's turned out great," Victoria says. "And
it's a good feeling, being able to tell female students what
to expect and how they can make their careers better."
Barriers: The electronics industry has gone through many
changes during Victoria's tenure, and she's been laid off more
than once, during times of recession. Her solution was to try
and stay adaptable, and learn new skills whenever possible.
During one lay-off she earned her machining certificate and
worked as an apprentice in a machine shop for two years, before
becoming an inspector.
"Every time I got laid off," she says, "I came
back to TVI and I kept up with the latest technologies. So when
things turned around the employers would notice, and it really
Working with Men: "I've never really had much of a
problem working with men," Victoria says. "If anything,
I think I put pressure on myself to exceed expectations. And
sometimes that's made things stressful."
Advice for Women: "Believe you can do it and you will
do it," Victoria says. "Bosses look to the people
who have more confidence - they want someone who says 'I can
do it.'" Along with confidence, a commitment to learning
and performing the best job you can is important. "Work
very hard, be focused, and you'll be equal with the men,"
Not only are women involved on more advanced projects these
days, Victoria says the work atmosphere has changed dramatically
from when she started - when it was still common to see posters
of women hung on a shop wall. "It is a lot better,"
she says. "Now we don't have to put up with that."
Still, she emphasizes the importance of standing up for yourself
and communicating if something makes you uncomfortable. "They
need to know that," she says. "Let them know where
you stand right away."
Typical Workday/Environment: In her position as an electronics
technician at TVI, Victoria sets up the students' electronics
labs and provides the hands on portion of the classes. She shows
students how to read schematics and how to follow electronic
signals through a particular system or piece of equipment. "I
train the students in how to use oscilloscopes, volt meters,
generators and other types of equipment used for troubleshooting,"
she says. "I'm the one that puts 'problems' in the oscilloscope,
so the students can come in and learn to troubleshoot."
"I like helping students," she says. "I know
so much more now than I did at 20, and it's great to be able
to pass that along."
Career Ladder: "You start off as a technician, working
with the equipment," Victoria explains, helping set up
in a laboratory or industrial setting. Depending on your interests,
you can go back to school for engineering, and learn to design
electronic equipment. Or, she says, "you could work your
way up to being a supervisor - where you're in charge of a room
full of technicians." In this role, she says, you would
be coordinating the workflow of the other technicians; ordering
equipment and helping them get set up. Salaries for an electronics
technician who has been through an associate's program start
around $18-20/hour and can run as high as $50,000 a year in
a specialized field like semi-conductors. Most jobs include
benefits and possible overtime for things like working a split
She also recommends teaching, as a great way to share your expertise
and experience. "It feels so good and gratifying,"
Professional Associations: Victoria is a member of the
Women in Technologies group at TVI and the Technologies Union
Representative for the Instructional Technicians.
Hobbies: When she's not working, Victoria says she loves
to read. "Stephen King is my favorite," she says.
"I like scary movies and I like scary books!" She's
also an outdoor enthusiast, and enjoys camping and spending
time in New Mexico's beautiful countryside with her family -
her husband of 23 years, two daughters and three grandsons.
"We do a lot of things together," she says. "I'm
so grateful for them."
*Annual salary number is not the role model's actual salary. Salary for Electronic Technician based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition