Telecommunications Technician: Education and Career Information

Research what it takes to become a telecommunications technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Electronics & Communications Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Telecommunications Technician?

A telecommunications technician troubleshoots and solves technical problems with electronics and communications technology. This type of technology includes telephones, computers, and cable systems. There are a number of types of telecommunications technician jobs. Some individuals may work from a central office or hub location, from which they can work on solving problems remotely, while other technicians may be repairers and home installers, meaning they travel to various locations to install technologies and fix problems. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Postsecondary non-degree award
Key Responsibilities Install, repair, inspect, maintain equipment
Analyze error reports
Respond to customer calls
Licensure/Certification Required Certifications available, requirements vary by employer
Training Required Moderate-term on-the-job training
Job Outlook (2014-2024) -4%*
Average Salary (2015) $54,510*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Will My Job Duties Be as a Telecommunications Technician?

As a telecommunications technician, you'll install, repair, inspect and maintain analog and digital telecommunications equipment. You'll analyze error reports and customer complaints to assess a problem. You'll use tools, such as polarity probes, circuit diagrams and volt meters, to locate and repair damaged wires, switches and other components. You'll also conduct tests to evaluate a system's restored functionality and performance.

Repair work may entail reconfiguring existing connections. Also, you may have to demonstrate the proper use of equipment or adjust its performance in response to customer requests or complaints.

Where Could I Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the industries that employed the most telecommunications technicians in May 2015 were wired telecommunications companies, building contractors, cable and other subscription TV providers and wireless telecommunications carriers (www.bls.gov). At that time, the states with the highest employment of these workers were California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia.

The BLS estimated that approximately 219,100 people worked as telecommunications technicians, installers and repairers in 2015 and expects a 4 percent decline in job prospects between 2014 and 2024. Rising demand for Internet bandwidth and digital services may create additional jobs for technicians, but the increased reliability of telecommunication equipment might reduce the need for service support. While there may be good opportunities in central office and business telecommunications centers, you'll face strong competition for jobs.

What Education Is Required?

With increased competition, you'll need to have some post-secondary education. In 2015, O*Net Online reported that about 51% of technicians had completed a postsecondary certificate, while another 21% had earned an associate's degree. You can find several certificate, 2-year and 4-year degree programs that teach you how to handle the increased complexities of technology. For the most sophisticated jobs, the BLS reported that employers prefer technicians who possess a bachelor's degree in telecommunications, electronics or a related major.

For entry-level workers, a certificate program in telecommunications provides training in topics such as technical writing and math, electronics fundamentals, telecommunication computer applications and fiber optic networks. You can typically complete a program in a year. Some colleges allow you to apply the credit earned toward an associate's degree.

Associate's degree programs offer a more in-depth study of telecommunications in such areas as digital signaling and switching, network security, broadband Internet and other emerging technologies. With an associate's degree, you could be qualified to work as a technical support specialist, field service technician or network administrator.

What Certifications Are Available?

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers offers several voluntary certification programs. These include the Broadband Premises Technician, Broadband Distribution Specialist, Broadband Transport Specialist and the Broadband Telecom Center Specialist. The certification exam for each specialty consists of 50 multiple-choice questions (www.scte.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For individuals who are interested mainly in the repairing aspect of the job, they may look into becoming a line technician and repairer. Rather than visiting people's homes to do repairs, they repair the actual main telephone and cable lines themselves. A career in broadcast and sound engineering may also be appealing, as it requires extensive electronics knowledge and individuals may find themselves working for radio stations or concert halls.

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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