How Do I Become a Communication Technician?

Communication technicians handle the maintenance and repair of cable and telecommunications equipment. Keep reading to learn about education options for aspiring technicians, the kind of work you might do and the salary you could earn. Schools offering Communication & Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Communication Technician?

Communication technicians are usually in charge of installing, repairing, and maintaining telecommunications equipment such as modems and routers for internet access, as well as antennas, transmitters and receivers. They do routine inspections on the equipment regularly to ensure the signal strength has not been weakened, and they replace faulty or malfunctioning equipment. Below, the table provides some additional details about this career:

Degree Required Associate's
Education Field of Study Electronics, Electronics Engineering
Key Responsibilities Repairing broken communication equipment, installing new equipment, working with clients
Licensure Requirements Voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -4% (for all telecommunications equipment installers and repairers)
Median Salary (2015)* $54,570 (for all telecommunications equipment installers and repairers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Programs Are Available For Communication Technicians?

One popular degree program for aspiring communication technicians is an associate's degree in electronics or electronics engineering technology. You can study basic electronics in these programs, including the theory and practice of electronic, digital and linear circuits. You'll then move on to explore the role of semiconductors, amplifiers and microprocessors. You can enroll in such courses as electricity fundamentals, robotics and wireless communications.

The coursework is divided between classroom instruction and lab experience. Through your work in the lab, you get the chance to gain familiarity with the testing and calibrating equipment used to analyze circuits and communications systems. You'll also work with simulation computers, allowing you to practice and improve your repair abilities. Many programs feature an internship, in which degree candidates work as entry-level technicians for course credit.

Some schools and states offer apprenticeship programs for prospective communication technicians. You would work under the supervision of a union employee, receiving hands-on training in the field. Such programs last 3-4 years and include compensation and benefits.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a communication technician, you'll service both residential and commercial needs. By replacing broken and defective components, you can ensure maximized system efficiency. Your work environment will be outdoors if you're employed as a field technician, installing and repairing coaxial and fiber-optic cables and signal-processing equipment, along with other tasks. However, many installations occur indoors.

What Can I Expect To Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), telecommunications equipment installers and repairers earned an annual median salary of $54,570 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). While the BLS predicted a 4% decline in job outlook for these technicians in the 2014-2024 decade, it also suggested that candidates with postsecondary training in electronics and an associate degree should have the best job prospects.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to equipment installers, line installers and repairers set up, maintain, and fix electricity lines and the cables that telecommunication systems use to transmit signals. This field only requires a high school diploma. Similarly, you could become a radio mechanic, which requires either a certificate or associate degree, and you'd be responsible for fixing equipment that facilitates the transmission of radio signals. Alternatively, you could become a security and fire alarm system installer, where you would set up and test home security systems and all accompanying hardware. A postsecondary certificate is most common for this career.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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