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Do you like to tinker or look "under the hood" of technology? Do you enjoy fixing what's broken? Are you into computers, videos, the Internet, data networks, and smartphones?
If so, you might consider combining your mechanical and troubleshooting abilities with some customer service skills to become a telecommunications technician. Generally, you would need an average of two years of education at a community college or technical school, plus some on-the-job training to get started in this rewarding career.1
A telecommunications technician helps keep the "flow" of technology networks going; he or she is responsible for planning, establishing and maintaining voice, video and data networks.2 Telecommunications technicians often install communications equipment in homes and offices. They also may inspect, adjust and maintain equipment used in existing networks.
Some telecom technicians work in an office, making sure the voice and data systems are working correctly for all employees. Others travel to various field locations, installing, updating, and maintaining networks.1 In both cases, telecommunications technicians often need to instruct others on how to use the equipment.1
A telecommunications technician must be mechanically inclined and also dexterous so that they can correctly install and maintain equipment.
Problem solving skills are a must, as issues with a network must be correctly identified and rectified. Since some technicians work in the field, good physical condition is sometimes necessary - especially for those who will be installing rooftop equipment. Color vision is also necessary for field technicians who install or repair equipment since they must be able to distinguish color-coded wires.1
Regardless of whether a technician works in an office or in the field, a telecommunications technician needs good communication and people skills, as they will be instructing others on proper use of voice or data network equipment.
Many businesses looking to hire telecommunications technicians prefer those with a certificate from a technical school, or an associate's degree in electronics repair or computer science. Some require specific certifications from manufacturers of certain equipment, or from professional organizations.1
It generally takes about two years to complete the training required before applying for a job. Most employers will also require some initial on-the-job training.
Telecommunications technicians must commit to continuing their training and education throughout their careers, as this field is rapidly changing and evolving, and technicians need to keep up with advances in technology.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national average pay as of May 2014 was $55,190 per year, or $26.53 per hour.1 Businesses that hire trained telecommunications technicians include wired and wireless telecommunication carriers and construction companies.
If you're already into smartphones, computers and the Internet, and if you already like fixing what's broken, this may be an engaging career path for you. A career as a telecommunications technician can be challenging and rewarding, where workdays are seldom exactly the same. If that appeals to you, you can likely find a training program and get started right away!
Please keep in mind employment and income cannot be guaranteed by any educational institution for students or graduates. Additionally, salary data cited in this article is based on median data provided by the United States Department of Labor, does not reflect starting or entry level salaries, and can vary widely based on geographic location.