Career Outlook: Telecommunications Engineer
In a world where communication-related technology is rapidly changing, telecommunications engineers are a valuable resource for keeping information networks up and running. Telecom 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.
Telecommunications engineering requires specific, detailed technical training, including a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering to enter the field. A master’s degree in electrical engineering can help open up leadership and specialized career opportunities.
Certifications are also often required, including Building Industry Consulting Service (BICSI), Avaya, Microsoft’s MCSE, Cisco’s CCNP or CCIE, and Juniper Networks’ JNCIE or JNCIP.
Mathematical ability is a crucial skill for telecom engineers. Advanced math such as calculus enables telecom engineers to analyze situations, solve problems, and troubleshoot and design equipment.
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.
As technology and computer and communication systems advance, engineers must use initiative to not only keep pace with these changes, but to anticipate and lead them.
In their work, telecom engineers use organizational and documentation skills to collect and organize the complex information needed to install telecom infrastructures and software. Keeping accurate, clear records also helps with hardware and software maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting.
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 people who have little or no technical experience.
Cross-platform system skills help engineers find work more readily and excel in their profession. Also, engineers who have a familiarity with multiple devices and types of equipment often have an upper hand in finding and landing more job opportunities.
Telecom 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. Telecom engineers in the government sector work on federal electronic systems and devices such as satellites and communication systems.
Salary and Benefits
Telecommunication engineers earn competitive compensation and receive substantial benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015, the median salary for telecommunication engineers was $90,520. Most full-time telecom engineers receive full benefits, depending on their experience, skill level, and place of employment. Roughly 20 percent 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.
As of 2014, 18 percent of electrical engineers worked in the telecommunications industry. While the BLS states that overall, electrical and electronic engineers will see little growth in their field from 2014 to 2024, job growth is projected in firms including telecom and utility company engineering services. These BLS projections take into account the fact that companies are attempting to cut costs by contracting engineering services, as opposed to hiring new engineers directly.
Engineering fields generate new employment opportunities due to the 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.
Because the use of communications technologies and the internet are central to virtually every business, telecommunications engineers can work in any number of industries. 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.
At the 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.