Associate's and bachelor's degree programs related to communications systems engineering prepare students to design, install and maintain telecommunications devices and networks. Students learn about wireless networks, wiring and electrical codes, and the programs often include several courses with hands-on training. Bachelor's degree programs may include more in-depth courses in areas like fiber optics and network security.
Master's degree options related to communications systems engineering are available as a Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in telecommunications. Master's level programs prepare students for careers designing telecommunications systems and typically require students to complete a thesis before graduating.
Associate of Science in Communications Engineering Technology
As preparation for careers in network design and management and the operation of radar systems, these programs offer training in electrical wiring, circuit analysis and alternating vs. direct current. These two-year programs typically require incoming students to have a high school diploma or GED prior to enrollment.
Careers often involve some form of field service skills, which requires the ability to troubleshoot on the spot. In order to enable networked systems of satellites, computers, submarine cables, mobile telephones and the Internet, students may learn:
- Assembly language
- Electrical codes
- Logic design
- Electronics drawing
- Technical calculations
- Technical writing
Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering Technology
System programming, wireless communication and computer architecture may all be taught in these four-year programs. Careers are available in broadcast maintenance, network design and information theory. Because field service calls require hands-on labor, training programs typically require students to complete a significant amount of practical work in addition to learning about theory.
A high school diploma or GED is required for admission. Recommended topics to take in high school can include chemistry, algebra, physics and geometry. Preparation for careers in mobile communications network and optical systems security design and management requires training in computer networking theory and the differences between digital and analog systems. Programs often include classroom training in:
- Differential equations
- Data communication
- Network design
- Technical research
- Information security
Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering
One of the main challenges of designing telecommunications systems is planning for interoperability among a large variety of system types. As with other programs in this field, a large amount of hands-on work is required of students, and programs may take three to four semester to complete. Enrollment in a master's degree program program requires students to have a bachelor's degree in a related field and a GPA of 3.0.
Project-based and thesis tracks are both available as options in these programs. Post-graduate careers involve managerial-level and engineering responsibilities for applications in mass communication networking. Students can learn how to design microprocessor systems, prevent outside forces from jamming a signal and network entire systems of computers together. Graduate training programs also include the following coursework:
- Processing of statistical signals
- Digital image processing
- Accounting for random variables
- Light wave communication
- Satellite communication
Continuing Education Information
Completing a Ph.D. program is generally necessary for careers in academia and research. Eligible applicants for doctoral training programs have typically graduated from bachelor's programs in computer science or electrical engineering.
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 219,100 people were estimated to be employed as telecommunication installers and technicians as of 2015, with a 4% job growth rate projected between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the median annual salary was $54,570. Professionals trained up to the associate-level were employed in the following posts:
- Specialist, telecom operations
- Service technician, information technology
- Telecommunications engineer
To prepare students for entry level jobs in communication systems engineering an A.S. in Communications Engineering Technology program teaches them how to work with the various components of a communication system and trouble shooting. A B.S. degree program covers more about network design and information theory, while a M.S. degree program expands on this knowledge while teaching managerial skills.