The Utility Systems Technician
Know what a pain it is when you suddenly lose Internet? Or the cable goes out in the middle of “Game of Thrones?”
Well, then, you can appreciate the importance of someone who prevents that from happening: the communication technician or “utility systems technician,” for the telecomm industry.
A utility systems technician services underground systems and above-ground utility poles. These contain cables and wires that transmit signals for Internet, cable TV and land-line telephone service (that probably only your parents use).
Related to these jobs are the telecom technician and the telecommunications contractor, who maintain and repair networks, and the cable installer, who repairs and installs communications equipment (like your cable box). These job functions may fall under the larger category of utility systems technician.
While problems with your Internet, cable and phone exist inside the house or building, quite often the problem must be fixed outside – on the pole, under the ground or inside a box by your house.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A UTILITY SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN IN GEORGIA
As a communication technician, you’ll probably find yourself working on the following tasks in a typical day:
- Install, repair and maintain telecommunications equipment, including cable lines on utility poles and towers
- Inspect and test cable lines
- Replace old and damaged equipment
- Use a truck bucket or ladder to get to the top of a pole
WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME A UTILITY SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN
Those who’ve been at this for a while say you’ll need to have:
- Math skills. Yep, you will actually use the algebra and trigonometry you learned in high school
- Mechanical and technical skills. A cable installer / telecom technician not only knows the equipment, but also the correct tools needed to fix that equipment.
- Problem-solving abilities. You have to be able to identify the problem, and figure out how to fix it.
- Strength and stamina. You may be on your feet for long periods of time – which can include standing on a ladder or in a bucket (attached to a truck). And you sometimes have to carry and use heavy equipment.
IS THIS YOU?
As you figure out if you’d make a good communication technician, think about these pros and cons.
- You’ll be in different locations, solving different problems, every day.
- Career advancement. As you gain more knowledge and skills, you’ll be able to take on more responsibility. Maybe you’ll become a supervisor. You also may be able to transition into a similar field – such as electric utilities – as your knowledge grows.
- Job satisfaction. Every day you’ll be solving problems and doing a job you can take pride in.
- A telecommunications contractor may be on call at all hours, including nights and weekends.
- The majority of your work is done outside, in all types of weather.
A FEW DETAILS OF INTEREST
What’s a typical telecommunications technician salary?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not specifically list a pay range for utility systems technician or a telecommunications technician salary. But the Bureau does report that, in Georgia, telecommunications line installers and repairers earn an average salary of $41,500 (May 2016).
How can you become a telecom technician?
Most utility systems technicians learn on the job, though in some cases you might be able to find an apprenticeship, such as one from the Electrical Training Center in Georgia.
To get a job as a communication technician, you must meet these requirements:
- Be 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Have a valid driver’s license
Also: Many companies will require you to take and pass a drug test.
During your training — whether on the job or through a program — you’ll learn…
- The basics of telecommunications equipment
- Troubleshooting skills
- How to use tools to diagnose problems and fix equipment and cables
- Proper use of safety equipment
FIND A TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY SCHOOL
Two of Georgia’s technical colleges also have relevant programs for studying telecommunications technology:
Augusta Technical College – Electronics technology
Piedmont Technical College – Telecommunications Service / Operations Technician
APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
If you’re a high school senior and want to learn about telecom utility systems at one Georgia’s technical colleges, why not apply for a Trade Five Scholarship? OK! Bring on the application >
OUTLOOK FOR COMMUNICATION TECHNICIAN
Again, the BLS has no specific information for utility systems technicians, but the demand for telecommunications line installers and repairers is projected to increase by about 1% by 2024, adding 700 jobs.
RIDE ALONG WITH A REAL UTILITY SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN
Dave doesn’t work in Georgia, but his knowledge and tools would work just as well here. Watch Dave work as a telecom technician >
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
Download this handy PDF for some facts on-the-go.