The telecommunications industry offers employment in jobs requiring a variety of skills and training. Many jobs require a high school education in addition to on-the-job training. Other jobs require particular skills that may take several years of experience to learn completely. For some managerial and professional jobs, employers require a college education.
Line installers often are hired initially as helpers, grounds workers, or tree trimmers who clear branches from lines. Because the work entails a lot of climbing, applicants should have physical stamina and be unafraid of heights. The ability to distinguish colors is important because wires and cables are coded by color. Although line installers may not complete a formal apprenticeship, they generally receive several years of on-the-job training. Line installers may transfer to other highly skilled jobs, such as telecommunications equipment installer and repairer, or may move into other kinds of work, such as sales. Promotion to crew supervisor, technical staff, or instructor of new employees also is possible.
Most companies prefer to hire telecommunications equipment installers and repairers with postsecondary training in electronics; some choose to hire persons with experience as line installers. Training sources include 2- and 4-year college programs in electronics or communications, trade schools, and training provided by telecommunications companies and/or equipment and software manufacturers. Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers may advance to jobs maintaining more sophisticated equipment or to engineering technician positions.
Communications equipment operators should have clear speech and good hearing; computer literacy and keyboarding skills also are important. New operators learn equipment operation and procedures for maximizing efficiency. Instructors monitor both the time and quality of trainees’ responses to customer requests. Formal classroom instruction and on-the-job training may last several weeks.
A bachelor’s degree in engineering usually is required for entry-level jobs as electrical and electronics engineers. Continuing education is important for these engineers; those who fail to keep up with the rapid changes in technology risk technological obsolescence, which makes them more susceptible to layoffs or, at a minimum, more likely to be passed over for advancement.
While there is no universally accepted way to prepare for a job as a computer professional, most employers place a premium on some formal college education. Computer software engineers usually hold a degree in computer science or in software engineering. For systems analyst, computer scientist, or database administrator positions, many employers seek applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems.
Due to the rapid introduction of new technologies and services, the telecommunications industry is among the most rapidly changing in the economy. This means workers must keep their job skills up to date. From managers to communications equipment operators, increased knowledge of both computer hardware and software is of paramount importance. Several major companies and the telecommunications unions have created a Web site that provides free training for employees, enabling them to keep their knowledge current and helping them to advance. Telecommunications industry employers now look for workers with knowledge of and skills in computer programming and software design; voice telephone technology, known as telephony; laser and fiber optic technology; wireless technology; and data compression. Individuals with sales ability enhanced by interpersonal skills and knowledge of telecommunications terminology also are sought.