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What Is a Communications Equipment Operator?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a communications equipment operator. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information.

What Is a Communications Equipment Operator?

A communications equipment operator can work in a variety of roles, including being a front desk clerk, dispatcher or receptionist. Front desk clerks often work at hotels, motels, or resorts. They must manage all the duties of the front area, such as giving out room keys, passing along phone messages, and maintaining records. Dispatchers, both emergency and non-emergency, schedule workers in the field, may keep up with vehicle maintenance records, and maintain communications. Receptionists do similar work, mainly maintaining correspondence with clients and dealing with the general public.

The table below outlines the general requirements for these career options.

Front Desk Clerks Non-Emergency Dispatchers Emergency Dispatchers Receptionists
Training Required Short on-the-job training Moderate on-the-job training Varies by state Short on-the-job training
Other Requirements High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent, most states require certification High school diploma or equivalent
Key Responsibilities Answer customer service calls, book reservations, greet and register guests Offer directory assistance, answer phone calls, provide instructions to employees in the field Manage incoming public emergency calls, dispatch emergency personnel to scenes Greet visitors in businesses, answer phone calls, direct visitors and callers to correct departments or locations
Job Outlook (2018-2028) -6% (for hotel, motel, resort desk clerks)* 0% (for dispatchers except police, fire, ambulance)* 6% (for police, fire, ambulance dispatchers) * 5% (for receptionists and information clerks)*
Average Salary (2018) $25,130 (for hotel, motel, resort desk clerks)* $42,940 (for dispatchers except police, fire, ambulance)* $43,290 (for police, fire, ambulance dispatchers)* $30,350 (for receptionists and information clerks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Career Choices As a Communications Equipment Operator?

Communications equipment operators may work as dispatchers, front desk clerks, emergency dispatchers and receptionists. They use telephone and computer equipment to assist others with questions or problems.

Non-emergency dispatchers may work for telephone companies, businesses or trucking companies. Telephone company dispatchers may offer directory assistance and assist customers. Business telephone system dispatchers may answer and direct calls. Truck company dispatchers may provide work instructions to drivers and manage drivers through radio contact.

Larger hotels and resorts may use communications equipment operators to answer customer service calls and book reservations. Often, operators are located at a corporate call center and handle inquiries from around the world. Hotels, motels and resorts often have communications equipment operators on-staff as well, answering the phones and directing calls to the proper departments. In some instances, front desk clerks may double as operators, handling incoming calls, as well as greeting and registering guests.

Emergency dispatchers handle incoming calls from the public regarding emergency situations and dispatch the correct emergency personnel to the scene. Dispatchers work with law enforcement, fire and emergency medical personnel.

Receptionists work in businesses, greeting people as they enter the building, directing them to the correct office or location within the business and answering the phone. As a receptionist, you may also offer information to visitors, handle mail and monitor visitors in the building.

What Training Do I Need?

Most communications equipment operator positions require no formal education. Employers usually provide on-the-job training, which will teach you about company procedures, equipment operation and job duties. You may need previous experience in customer service for some positions.

Employers of emergency dispatchers may offer more formal on-the-job training, covering legal matters, medical terminology and emergency codes. In some states, you may need to be certified to work as an emergency dispatcher.

What Is the Job Outlook For This Field?

The general job outlook for all other communications equipment operators, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sees a possible increase in job growth to 7% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). However, the BLS reported some careers that combine other responsibilities beyond answering phone calls may see job growth during this same period. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks saw a 6% decrease in job growth, non-emergency dispatchers saw little to no change in job growth, and receptionists saw a possible 5% job growth opportunity. Emergency dispatchers saw a job increase of 6%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like the idea of becoming a communications equipment operator, you might also like a career as an office administrator or customer service representative. Office administrators ensure that all aspects of an office run smoothly, such as interactions among employees. They usually need a bachelor's degree in business administration. Customer service representatives do a lot of correspondence over the phone and by email, their goal being to maintain positive interactions with customers. A high school diploma is the minimum requirement, although at least an associate's degree in business is highly desirable, as well as prior experience with software like Microsoft Word and Excel.