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Be a Telephone System Administrator: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a telephone system administrator. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career as a telephone system administrator. View article »

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  • 0:02 Telephone System Administrator
  • 0:36 Career Requirements
  • 1:39 Steps for Getting into…

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Video Transcript

Telephone System Administrator

Telephone system administrators install and service computerized telecommunications systems. They also operate microcomputers and terminals. Their duties include processing orders for installation, programming electronic telephone and voice message switches, and handling customer requests to relocate services.

Like other system administrators, telephone system administrators can be essential to keeping a business running. As a result, they might be on call to solve any problems that may arise with a company's telephone systems.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Computer science, telecommunications, information technology or related fields
Certification Optional certification available from Cisco
Experience 3-5 years of related experience
Key Skills Complex problem solving, active listening, critical thinking, reading comprehension, judgment and decision making, systems evaluation/analysis, operation monitoring; experience with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), programming languages; use of cable verifiers, hard disk arrays, network analyzers, punchdown tools, server load balancers
Salary (2015)* $77,810 per year (median salary for network and computer systems administrators)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer job listings (December 2012), Cisco, O*NET OnLine.

Steps for Getting into this Career

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in telecommunications, computer science, or information technology is usually required for telephone system administrator positions. Coursework in this field may include classes on programming, computer systems, legal issues in telecommunications, and switching technology. Individuals in this field will learn how to repair telephone systems, train telephone operators, understand system administration programming, install cabling, and operate various kinds of telecommunications equipment.

To get ahead in your bachelor's degree program, you can participate in an internship program. Many telephone and telecommunication companies employ interns. Students who participate in such internships may help with the programming and configuration tasks necessary to set up telephone networks or provide customer service to customers experiencing technical difficulties with the telephone network. Some internship opportunities may lead to permanent employment, and the relevant experience may give the student an advantage in seeking work after college.

Step 2: Obtain Work Experience

Most positions as a telephone system administrator require 3-5 years of experience. A person seeking an eventual career as a telephone system administrator may gain experience in an entry-level position, such as a position as a telephone technician. An individual in such a job may be charged with installing, monitoring, and troubleshooting telephone networks.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Some companies require certification of telephone system administrators. One such relevant certification is the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician. The holder of such a credential has demonstrated the ability to plan and set up basic telephone and computer networks. As an individual in this profession becomes more skilled, he or she may obtain a more advanced credential, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate. Certification is typically achieved by passing a written exam.

It is important to maintain certification. Cisco certifications are typically valid for three years. Individuals wishing to maintain their certifications will need to keep up to date with new technologies in the field of telecommunications. Continuing education training will prepare individuals to pass the exams they need to remain certified.


To review, with a bachelor's degree, some experience, and a thorough knowledge of programming and telephone system protocols, telephone system administrators can earn about $78,000 a year to install and service computerized telecommunications systems.

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