Maryland and Virginia are on the verge of moving into the big leagues of employment in the nation's electronics industry, according to a new report by the American Electronics Association, a trade group.

The association's figures, which count electronics industry employment through the end of 1986, put Maryland and Virginia just below the top 10 states in jobs in the industry. Maryland had 60,000 electronics jobs at the end of 1986, up 1,000 from a year earlier, and Virginia had 57,000 electronics jobs, up 2,000 from the year before. Most of the jobs in the two states are in communications and computer software and programming, according to the study.

Not surprisingly, California, the home of Silicon Valley, leads the nation in electronics jobs with 570,000. COUCH-POTATO ZAPPERS

A McLean company wants to take television watching a step further.

The firm, TV Answer, has developed a handheld remote control device that enables viewers to talk to their televisions via a radio frequency that is relayed to a central computer. By pointing the "zap gun" at the screen at designated times, viewers can order products on home shopping channels or select pay-per-view programs.

But there's a hitch: The Federal Communications Commission, which must grant the company the radio channels it needs to operate its system, has not yet given approval. The company has asked the FCC to reserve a portion of the 216-220 GHz band -- spectrum space reserved for maritime radio services and amateur radio. TV Answer officials argue thattheir system will not interfere with other uses.

TV Answer already has FCC approval to start testing the product in 500 to 1,000 Fairfax County homes that subscribe to Media General Cable television. Eventually, TV Answer plans to distribute the remote control units to cable operators for free, and make money from user fees charged each time a viewer zaps the television.