Telecommunications Engineer Career Outlook: Salary, Skills & More

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Telecommunications engineering

In a world where communication-related technology is rapidly changing, telecommunications engineers are a valuable resource for keeping information networks current, viable, and up and running. Telecommunications engineers are highly trained specialists in the electrical and computer engineering field. They serve people, companies, and communities with a variety of communication and information transfer systems.

Students who are interested in pursuing careers in electrical engineering, particularly in telecommunications engineering, may wish to consider earning an online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree.

How to Become a Telecommunications Engineer

Individuals who are interested in becoming telecommunications engineers should first understand the necessary educational and experience requirements. To enter the field of telecommunications engineering, specific, detailed technical training and education are required, including a bachelor’s degree.

Students who are studying to become telecommunications engineers take specialized courses as well as gain laboratory and field experience. Those interested in earning a higher salary and expanding their career options can consider furthering their education. A master’s degree in electrical engineering can help open up leadership and specialized professional opportunities.

After earning a degree in the field, students should consider pursuing licenses and certification. While these are not always required for entry-level jobs, they are often required by certain employers and can help with advancement in the field.

Licensure consists of passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam as well as the Professional Engineering Exam. Certifications can include: Building Industry Consulting Service (BICSI), Avaya, Microsoft’s MCSE, Cisco’s CCNP or CCIE, and Juniper Networks’ JNCIE or JNCIP.

Required Skills for Telecommunications Engineers

Since telecommunications engineering involves complex technical tasks and job responsibilities, it is important for individuals to exhibit a certain set of skills in the workplace. Some of these required skills include the following.

Mathematical Skills

Mathematical ability is crucial for telecom engineers. Advanced math such as calculus enables telecom engineers to analyze situations, solve problems, and troubleshoot and design equipment.

Focus and Concentration

Focus and concentration are also essential skills for telecommunications engineers. Developing complex electrical systems means keeping track of multiple technical components and design elements while performing intricate tasks.

Initiative

As technology, computer and communication systems advance, engineers must not only keep pace with these changes but proactively anticipate and lead them.

Organizational Skills

In their work, telecom engineers carefully collect, organize, and document the complex information to install telecom infrastructures and software. Keeping accurate, clear records also helps with hardware and software maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Communication and interpersonal skills are key for telecom engineers who interact with technicians, customers, and co-workers. Being able to clearly communicate complex issues in plain language is necessary for engineers, especially when dealing with stakeholders who have little or no technical experience.

Cross-platform System Skills

Having skills on platforms that can operate on more than one computer architecture or operating system can help engineers find work more readily and excel in their profession.

Mechanical Skills

Engineers who have mechanical skills, and a familiarity with multiple devices and types of equipment, often have an upper hand in finding and landing more job opportunities.

Telecommunications Engineer Job Description

Telecommunications engineers perform a variety of duties, but their main focus involves the installation and repair of telecommunication lines and equipment. Other duties include designing new methods of using electrical power to develop products, developing manufacturing methodologies, ensuring construction and installation specifications and standards, testing electrical equipment to specifications, evaluating problems, and selling equipment and services. Telecommunications engineers in the government sector generally work on federal electronic systems and devices, such as satellites and secure communication systems.

Telecommunications Engineer Salary and Benefits

Telecommunications engineers earn a competitive compensation and receive substantial benefits.

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2019 the annual median salary for telecommunications engineers across the U.S. was $98,600.
  • This salary can vary based on experience, organization, education, and geographic location. For example, the BLS describes how the top 10% of electronics engineers, which includes telecommunications engineers, can make more than $164,210.

Most full-time telecom engineers receive full benefits, depending on their experience, skill level, and place of employment. Roughly 20% of telecom engineers are union members who are covered by union contracts. Many belong to groups such as the Communications Workers of America or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Telecommunications Engineer Career Outlook

The BLS states that overall, electrical and electronics engineers will see modest growth in their field from 2018 to 2028. However, job growth is projected in firms including telecom and utility company engineering services. Electrical and electronics engineers are projected to see an employment increase of 2% between 2018 and 2028. These BLS projections take into account the fact that companies are attempting to cut costs by contracting for engineering services, as opposed to hiring new engineers directly.

Engineering is one of those fields that generate new employment opportunities due to constant and rapid changes in technology, computer science, wireless networks, and communication systems. Because of these ongoing changes, telecommunications engineers will be in demand for research and development activities that advance new communications innovations.

Telecommunications Engineer Industries

Because the use of communications technologies and the internet are central to virtually every organization, telecommunications engineers can work in any number of industries and settings. Usually, engineering service firms, such as energy and utility providers and telecommunication companies, are the main type of employer. Other opportunities lie in education, government, military, health care, media, software, and beyond.

Telecommunication engineers work closely with information and communication technologies that drive our increasingly complex world. As innovations in these technologies emerge, engineers must be aware of new trends and industry changes. By continuing their education, telecommunications engineers will be able to add to their skill sets and excel in a field that is growing more important — and more exciting — by the day.

Learn More

Individuals who are considering an electrical engineering career as a telecommunications engineer can consider taking the first step by earning a degree in the field. Engineers with a bachelor’s degree can potentially earn a higher annual salary more quickly and become more competitive in the job market by advancing their education.

At Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology, graduates of the online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering program are equipped with the skills to research, design, develop, and test new technologies and industry applications — and to position themselves as leaders.

If you are interested in becoming a telecommunications engineer, learn more about how the program can help you pursue your professional goals.

Recommended Readings

Electrical Engineering vs. Computer Science: Which Career Is Best for You?
Engineering Inventions That Forever Changed the Music Industry
How a Master’s Degree Can Boost Your Engineering Career

Sources:

All About Careers, “Telecommunications Engineer Job Description”
College Grad, “Telecommunications Industry
Field Engineer, “What is a Telecommunications Engineer Salary?”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Electrical and Electronics Engineer
Zippia, “How To Become a Telecom Engineer”