Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers held about 217,200 jobs in 2012.
The industries that employed the most telecommunications equipment installers and repairers in 2012 were as follows:
|Wired telecommunications carriers||55%|
|Building equipment contractors||12|
|Cable and other subscription programming||5|
|Wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite)||4|
Central office technicians generally work in climate-controlled central offices or electronic service centers. PBX and station installers and repairers travel frequently to installation and repair sites, such as homes and offices. Equipment installation may require climbing on rooftops and into attics, and climbing ladders and telephone poles.
Telecom technicians occasionally work in cramped, awkward positions where they often stoop, crouch, crawl, or reach high to do their work. Sometimes they must lift or move heavy equipment and parts. They also may work on equipment while it is powered, so they need to take necessary precautions.
Injuries and Illnesses
Telecom technicians have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Although minor falls, burns, and electrical shocks are common, the work is generally not dangerous when safety precautions are taken.
To reduce risk of injury, workers wear hardhats and harnesses when working on ladders or on elevated equipment. To prevent electrical shocks, technicians also may lock off power to equipment under repair.
Most telecom technicians work full time.
Some businesses offer 24-hour repair services. Telecom technicians in these companies work shifts, including evenings, holidays, and weekends. Some are on call around the clock in case of emergencies.
Telecom technicians typically need some postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computer technology and receive on-the-job training. Industry certification is required for some positions.
Postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computers is typically needed for telecom technicians.
Technical programs with courses in basic electronics, telecommunications, and computer science offered in community colleges and technical schools may be particularly helpful. Most programs lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree in electronics repair, computer science, or related subjects.
Some employers prefer to hire candidates with an associate’s degree, particularly for positions such as central office technicians, headend technicians, and those working with commercial communications systems.
Once hired, telecom technicians receive on-the-job training, typically lasting a few months. Training involves a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on work with an experienced technician. In these settings, workers learn the equipment’s internal parts and the tools needed for repair. Technicians who have completed postsecondary education often require less on-the-job instruction than those who have not.
Large companies may send new employees to training sessions to learn about equipment, procedures, and technologies offered by equipment manufacturers or industry organizations.
Because technology in this field is rapidly evolving, telecom technicians must continue learning about new equipment over the course of their careers. They may attend manufacturers’ training classes, study equipment manuals, or obtain hands-on experience with the latest equipment.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some technicians must be certified to perform certain tasks or to work on specific equipment. Certification requirements vary by employer and specialization.
Organizations such as the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and the Telecommunications Industry Association offer certifications for telecom technicians. Some manufacturers also provide certifications for working with specific equipment.
Advancement opportunities often depend on previous work experience and training. Repairers with extensive knowledge of equipment may be qualified to become manufacturer’s sales workers.
Telecom technicians typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a telecom technician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Telecom technicians should also possess the following specific qualities:
Color vision. Installers and repairers must be able to distinguish different colors because the wires they work with are color-coded.
Customer-service skills. Because many telecom technicians work in customers’ homes and offices, they should be friendly and polite. In addition, they often explain how to maintain and operate equipment to people who have little or no technical knowledge.
Dexterity. Many telecom technician tasks, such as repairing small devices, connecting components, and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.
Mechanical skills. Telecom technicians must be familiar with the devices they install and repair, their internal parts, and the appropriate tools needed to use, install, or fix them. They must also be able to understand manufacturer’s instructions when installing or repairing equipment.
Troubleshooting skills. When telecommunications equipment malfunctions, technicians troubleshoot and devise solutions to problems that are not immediately apparent.
The median annual wage for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $54,530 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,840, and the top 10 percent earned more than $75,040.
In May 2012, the median annual wages for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers in the top five industries employing these workers were as follows:
|Wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite)||56,590|
|Wired telecommunications carriers||56,410|
|Cable and other subscription programming||49,270|
|Building equipment contractors||44,450|
Most telecom technicians work full time.
Some businesses offer 24-hour repair services. Telecom technicians in these companies work shifts, including nights, holidays, and weekends. Some are on call around the clock in case of emergencies.
Compared with workers in all occupations, telecommunications equipment installers and repairers had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012.
Employment of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations.
Consumers, businesses, and governments will continue to demand Internet, cable, or wireless services that provide faster and better connections. Building, maintaining, and upgrading the networks and equipment that support them should create some jobs.
However, overall employment growth of telecom technicians may be offset by a decline in maintenance work. Modern equipment is more reliable, sturdier, easier to repair remotely, and more resistant to damage from the elements, limiting the need for telecom repair technicians.
Although job opportunities will vary by specialty, those with postsecondary electronics or telecommunications education and strong customer-service and computer skills should have the best job prospects.
Technologies such as video on demand and broadband Internet require high data transfer rates in telecommunications systems. Central office, PBX installers, and headend technicians will be needed to service and upgrade switches and routers to handle increased usage and volume, resulting in very good job opportunities.
However, station installers and repairers can expect strong competition for most positions. Prewired buildings, the reliability of existing telephone lines, and increasing wireless technology usage may reduce the need for general installation and maintenance work.
For information on career, training, and certification opportunities for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, visit
Communications Workers of America
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
National Coalition for Telecommunication Education and Learning
Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers
Telecommunications Industry Association