Undergraduate certificate programs in telecommunications train students to install, repair and maintain telecommunications equipment in all types of systems. Applicants need to be high school graduates or have a GED certificate.
The programs take less than one year of full-time study to complete and teach students about the equipment and procedures used in wired, wireless and satellite communications systems. Courses cover topics such as computer programming, networks and distance education technologies. Upon completing the programs, graduates may be eligible for professional certification in various types of technologies.
Students who hold a bachelor's degree can earn a graduate certificate, which also calls for less than a year of study. These programs train students for managerial positions or jobs that require more technical skills. Specializations may include telecommunications management, technology and network administration. Many courses can be taken through online study.
Courses in a graduate certificate program may cover new technology in telephonics, wireless application development and client relationships. There are certifications available in many technologies from industry and professional groups.
Both undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in telecommunications can be found in fully online formats. Hybrid options are also available in case students want to take a few on-campus classes.
Undergraduate Telecommunications Certificate
Undergraduate certificate programs focus on technology systems support. Students learn about the equipment used in the different telecommunications arenas; they also study network configurations required for efficient, scalable systems and the programming languages needed for devices to communicate with one another. Graduates are prepared to install, tune and maintain telecommunications for wired, wireless and satellite systems.
Program Information and Requirements
Online undergraduate certificate programs require between 12 and 18 credits, and can offer specializations in voice communications, data communications, network management and instructional systems. Applicants should have a high school diploma or equivalent and be familiar with basic computer applications like word processors and browsers.
Distance-learning students need access to a computer with good media capabilities and high-speed Internet access in order to view lectures, review study materials, process assignments and take exams. Classes are completely online, and most are available year-round.
The telecommunications industry is largely divided into wired, wireless and satellite sectors. Courses cover communications hardware and protocols utilized in each sector, as well as signal processing and data formats specific to voice, TV, Internet and other data services. Hardware courses discuss installation, configuration, repair and maintenance, as well as communications standards. Courses can include:
This course presents an overview of the structure of the telecommunications industry. Subjects reviewed include telephony, switching systems, data communications, multiplexing and networks.
The concepts, syntax and instruction sets of common computer languages are compared. Language concepts include different data types, common algorithms, data structures, functions and libraries. The emphasis will be on high-level, object-oriented programming languages.
This overview of basic network concepts includes analog and digital signaling, cabling systems and topologies, network hardware and the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) reference model. Students learn to build networks appropriate for different situations.
This course presents a summary of the theory and mechanisms of security in networking systems. Early encryption methods are explained and compared, and students learn about current Secured Socket Layer (SSL) and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) implementations.
Distance Education Technologies
The study of communications technologies used in distance education and training programs can offer online learners insight into the mechanisms beneath the surface of their own online training. Assignments include the design of a distance learning system incorporating the latest in communications technologies.
Graduate Telecommunications Certificate
The telecommunications industry is experiencing a period of technological convergence, as all sectors take advantage of common digital networks and protocols. As the lines between the fields of telephony, television and data transmission continue to blur, proficiency in multiple fields can be helpful to a systems manager. Graduate certificate programs provide training in multiple telecommunications technologies, preparing students to design and administer systems and keep them up-to-date with current advancements.
Program Information and Requirements
Applicants to an online graduate certificate program in telecommunications need a bachelor's degree. Most programs require between 15 and 18 semester credits. Subjects for graduate certificate programs include advanced study in telecommunications technology, network administration and communications management. In many cases, credits earned toward the certificate may be applied to a master's degree program.
Graduate certificates in this field can be fully completed online. Virtual resources available to online students might include libraries, lectures, syllabi, videos, writing labs and study notes. Some programs may offer the opportunity to mix and match online courses with on-site courses according to the student's wishes.
Class participation is encouraged in online classes, and may contribute to as much as 30% of grades. Various software applications keep students in contact with professors and peers, not only through e-mail, but also via chat rooms and classroom forums. Webcams and microphones allow students to face each other remotely while they chat.
Courses in telecommunications technology go into more detail than those for undergraduate certificates. Class material is often presented from a design and management perspective. Sample courses include:
Telephony services continue to undergo radical changes, from circuit networks to packet-switched digital networks. Administrators and technologists need to understand the various migration paths to ensure smooth transitions from legacy systems to 3G, 4G and next-generation voice and data technologies.
Wireless Application Services
The development and dissemination of applications is a vital part of wireless services, and many factors contribute to their efficient creation and distribution. Topics include application protocols, application environment, stacked architecture and wireless markup language.
Client Relationship Management
This course examines strategies to build relationships with clients, both internal and external. Students learn to understand their products from their clients' perspectives as well as their own, and provide services which meet the needs of both. Systems should be responsive to clients, which means embracing change and responding to feedback.
Design principles behind networks are examined in greater depth. Topics include OSI management standards, management information systems and factors affecting the status and performance of data networks.
Online undergraduate certificates in telecommunications can prepare students for entry-level positions as technicians for telephone, cable and network system providers. Outside plant personnel may need further training in the power equipment used to dig holes and install telephone poles. Line installers run wires across poles or in subterranean access ways and from central lines to buildings. They also set up cable tracks, conduits, wire routers, hubs, bridges, servers, firewalls, antennas, satellite dishes and other specialized equipment.
Technicians may be called upon to troubleshoot dysfunctional network hardware, cabling, switchboards, computers, telephones and televisions. They may perform routine maintenance on existing systems, such as upgrading software, relocating cable drops and replacing outmoded components.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the number of jobs as telecommunications installers and repairers would decrease by 4% from 2014 to 2024. The number of jobs for line installers was predicted to grow by 6% during the same time frame (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage in 2015 was $54,570 for equipment installers and repairers, and $52,920 for line installers.
In 2015, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for general and operations managers within the telecommunications industry was $134,000. Personnel trained in the latest technologies are projected to have a competitive advantage.
Certification for technicians is available from several industry organizations. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) offers training and certification as a Convergence Technologies Professional (CTP) and a Certified in Convergent Network Technologies (CCNT) professional, as well as several areas of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) certification via its SIP School (www.tiaonline.org). CompTIA offers training materials and exams for technician certification in basic information technology, networking, security and servers (www.comptia.org).
Vendors like Microsoft or Cisco Systems offer training and certification in their own products. Certification is generally provided for increasingly complex levels of proficiency.
Industry and vendor associations offer certifications for design and management as well as advanced certifications for technical specialties like networking, voice, wireless or security. Telecommunications managers and administrators have a variety of professional and industry certification options available to them.
Students interested in telecommunications may elect to pursue an online certificate at the undergraduate or graduate level. These programs train students to understand, install and repair the equipment and infrastructure used in the various telecommunications sectors.