The Telecom Technician
It takes all kinds of equipment and technology to deliver the data that fills your screens with entertainment every day. Somebody’s got to install that stuff and fix it when it doesn’t work.
Enter the telecom technician – the guy or gal who assembles and maintains the systems that run internet, TV, cell phones and old-school landline phones and fax machines.
When technology changes, telecom technicians upgrade the systems. They also run tests on the systems to make sure everything works. When problems come up, they figure out how to solve them.
Of course, that’s a pretty broad job description. The field actually has several areas of specialization. Here are a few.
- Home installers. Most likely, these are the telecom technicians you know best. They come to your house to set up your internet, your phone line or your cable TV. If it’s not working, they come out to troubleshoot the problem.
- Central office technicians. These workers are in charge of the equipment at “central offices,” also called “switching hubs.” These hubs are the Grand Central Station of data, sorting and routing data from thousands of phone and internet connections. If you work there, you need to monitor the equipment for malfunctions and fix any problems.
- Headend technicians. These workers are kind of like the central office technicians, but their focus is on cable and TV. They work at TV control centers, monitoring services for local subscribers.
- PBX installers. They usually do their work at businesses, setting up those complex phone systems that let office workers handle and transfer lots of incoming calls. PBX installers might also set up Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, which businesses use to make phone calls through their internet connection.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TELECOM TECHNICIAN IN GEORGIA
One person’s day might be very different from another’s – it all depends on your specialization and your job description. But here are some common day-to-day tasks for equipment installers and repairers.
- Set up landline telephones and fax machines (yes, some people still use fax machines!)
- Inspect wiring and phone jacks
- Set up local area networks (LANS)
- Install modems and routers
- Test newly installed or newly updated systems
- Replace malfunctioning or broken equipment
- Calibrate settings on equipment so it works more efficiently
- Show customers how to use equipment or systems
- Conduct regular maintenance
- Conduct troubleshooting and diagnostic testing to figure out a problem
WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME A TELECOMMUNICATIONS INSTALLER/REPAIRER
This is what top professionals in the trade say you need to be:
- People friendly. Telecom technicians often work directly with customers, whether at home or in the office. Simply being nice to people goes a long way! You also need good communication skills so you can explain how things work. (You’re a professional, after all.)
- Tech savvy. You work with many different tools and devices, and you need to take a lot of things apart and put them back together. And since this is a field that’s always changing, you need to be enthusiastic about keeping up to date on new technologies and innovations.
- A problem solver. As an equipment repairer, a huge part of your job is troubleshooting a malfunction to figure out what’s not working — and what you can do about it.
- Able to see color. You get essential information from color-coded wires, so you have to be able to tell what colors they are.
IS THIS YOU?
As you decide whether telecom technician jobs are right for you, think about these pros and cons.
- Job mobility. With your training in telecom technology, you’ll have a base of knowledge that you can apply in a wide variety of different jobs … maybe even jobs that haven’t been invented yet! It’s a profession that prepares you for the future.
- Good pay. With an average salary of $55,290 for equipment installers and repairers in Georgia, you can make a good living and support a family.
- While not one of the most dangerous occupations, telecom technicians do have a higher than average rate of injuries. Most are not minor, like electrical shocks or falls from high-up equipment. You can minimize risk of injury by wearing safety gear — like a hardhat and a harness — when you’re on a ladder or elevated platform.
A FEW DETAILS OF INTEREST
How much do telecom technicians make?
The average salary for an equipment installer or repairer in Georgia is $55,290 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2016).
How do you become an equipment installer and repairer?
Most telecom technicians have a two-year degree (a.k.a. an associate’s degree) in computer science or a related field (think telecommunications, information technology, electronics). An associate’s degree will help you get the best jobs in this field, which is a little more competitive than many other skilled trades.
After you’re hired, you will continue to learn with on-the-job training from more experienced colleagues. You’ll probably get some classroom learning as well as some hands-on practice with equipment and tools —with the guidance of a pro technician, of course.
You will also learn about the ins-and-outs of working on specific types or brands of equipment, sometimes with special training from the manufacturer.
FIND A TELECOM TECHNICIANS SCHOOL
APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
If you’re a high school senior and want to study telecommunications technology at one of Georgia’s technical colleges, why not apply for a Trade Five Scholarship? OK! Bring on the application >
OUTLOOK FOR EQUIPMENT INSTALLERS AND REPAIRERS
The number of jobs for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers is expected to decline 4% by 2024, because wireless and mobile coverage are increasing, and these technologies require less work to install and maintain. But retiring workers will create new job openings. An associate’s degree will give you an edge in the field.
BUT DON’T JUST TAKE IT FROM US…
For a quick look behind the scenes, check out this super-short video and find out what a day-in-the-life is like for two telecom technicians – and why they like doing what they do.
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
Download this handy PDF for some facts on-the-go.