When the Navy changed the Radio Technician rating (RT) to Electronics Technician’s Mate (ETM) in 1945, it was indeed hard-pressed to find Sailors capable of performing all the new duties that were included in the name change. Sources for enlisted personnel to begin ETM training included Aviation Electrician’s Mate, Electrician’s Mate, Radioman, Aviation Radioman, Radarman, Sonarman, and Radioman.
After the establishment of the Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) category of Electronics Technician, the number of source ratings increased and were quite varied. Besides Electronics Technician, they included Radarman (RD), Sonar Technician (ST), Radioman (RM), Data Systems Technician (DT), Electrician’s Mate (EM), Interior Communications Electrician (IC), and Fire Control Technician (FT). Of course, the Sailors in these source ratings were not limited to Electronics Technician if they desired to vie for promotion to CWO or Limited Duty Officer; a Radarman, for example, could also seek to become a Chief Operations Technician (714x), while IC Sailors were eligible for advancement as Chief Electrician (754x).
Today, the pathway to a CWO status is open to sailors in a dozen different ratings and service ratings. There is, of course, the Electronics Technician rating itself and its three associated service ratings that were created in 2015 (Nuclear Power, Submarine Communications, and Submarine Navigation). Four Cryptologic Technician service ratings—Interpretive, Networks, Collection, and Technical—also serve as source ratings for the Surface Electronics Technician designator of 718x. Fire Controlman and Fire Control Technician Sailors can choose the 718x CWO designator as a path of advancement, along with a pair of Sonar Technician ratings (Surface and Submarine).
But this many paths to become a Chief Electronics Technician also means there are quite a few competitors vying for the same honor. In 2016, just six active-duty Sailors were named CWO2 Electronics Technicians.