Be a Communications Equipment Technician: Education and Career Info

Learn how to become a communications equipment technician. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in the communications field.

Should I Become a Communications Equipment Technician?

A communications equipment technician installs, maintains, and repairs electronic and computer equipment used in various segments of the electronic communications industry. Communications equipment technicians work in a variety of fields, such as radio communications, satellite communications, and electronics.

The work environment for a communications equipment technician largely depends upon the subfield in which they specialize. Some technicians work on towers, while others are based out of the interior of radio stations. Equipment technicians should be comfortable with heights and cramped spaces. They must be physically able to lift and move equipment, safely make repairs with consideration to the electricity that equipment uses, and climb with harnesses to open areas. Most communications equipment techs work full-time; those employed by companies offering 24-hour services may work evening, night, or weekend shifts.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Postsecondary education
Degree Field Electronics, computer science or related field
Licensure/Certification The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) offers various types of certifications
Experience Entry-level
Key Skills Manual dexterity, troubleshooting techniques, customer service skills and bookkeeping skills; circuit boards, computer hardware and software; must be able to work with diagnostic equipment such as test meters and other hand tools
Salary $54,630 (2014 mean annual wage for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O NET Online

Step 1: Determine Career Path

Because the communications industry is very broad, skills used in one segment, such as satellite communications, may not transfer to another segment, such as electronics. Aspiring communications equipment technicians should know which area of the industry they would like to work in, which will help them determine what type of training they need to pursue.

Step 2: Meet Educational Requirements

Many employers prefer candidates who have completed a postsecondary education program in electronics. Aspiring communications equipment technicians also need to have a proficient background in computer technology. Individuals may learn valuable skills by enrolling in a certificate or a 2-year associate's degree program in computer science, electronics repair or related subjects. Certain technicians, such as those working with commercial systems, are increasingly required to earn a 4-year degree.

Step 3: Get Job Training

Communications equipment technicians generally complete on-the-job training through which they learn about the company's specific duties and equipment. This training involves completing less-complex tasks with an experienced technician. Some employers also send employees to training or continuing education programs given by specific manufacturers.

Success Tip:

  • Seek continuing education. Because technology in this field changes rapidly, communications equipment technicians should look for continuing education opportunities such as reading equipment manuals.

Step 4: Earn Certification

Some technicians must be certified to do certain tasks or work on specific equipment. Certification requirements may vary depending upon the area of expertise. Generally, candidates are required to pass an exam that measures their technical knowledge and proficiency. The Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) offers certifications for communications equipment technicians.

Success Tip:

  • Keep certification current. To maintain their certification, communications equipment technicians must earn a certain amount of re-certification units by participating in activities such as attending technical workshops and speaking at conferences.

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