Focusing on the study of digital electronics, satellite transmission theories, and computer networking concepts, these programs include internships or supervised thesis projects. Voluntary certification is also available to telecommunication engineering professionals possessing the knowledge and experience required to pass a comprehensive examination. An associate degree program, found in community colleges and some four-year universities, trains its graduates to install, test, operate and repair different types of telephone, broadcasting and Internet communication systems. Prior to enrollment, associate's degree students should have taken at least one semester each of high school algebra, geometry, chemistry and physics.
Students become well-versed in the language of computer programming, computer network troubleshooting and the ethical and legal issues particular to the industry in bachelor's degree programs. While it's not required, an A.A.S. is a helpful prerequisite to a B.S. in Telecommunications Engineering Technology program. In master's programs, topics in advanced network communications, data processing, operating systems and security are emphasized. Career outcomes include positions as communications or data engineering technicians, as well as electronics engineers and network support managers.
Associate's Degree in Telecommunication Engineering
An Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Telecommunication Engineering prepares students to work as an entry-level technician. Students apply the skills they learn at a supervised internship prior to graduation. Before enrolling in the two-year program, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
Coursework for an A.A.S. in Engineering Technology degree program focuses on the principle and theory of telecommunications systems and their functionality. In addition to standard core courses, students take additional electives that further their telecommunications knowledge such as physics, advanced math, and statistics. Core courses include:
- Wireless communication concepts
- Data analysis techniques
- Circuit theory
- Digital electronics
- Digital telephony
Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunication Engineering
A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Telecommunications Engineering Technology is a four-year program that either builds on an A.A.S. in Engineering Technology or entered into as a standalone degree program. This program is designed to prepare its graduates for competitive entry into the engineering technology workforce with practical knowledge of existing telecommunications systems. Students wishing to enter a program without the benefit of an associate's degree will need to either demonstrate transcripts or expect to take substantial prerequisite courses in mathematics, physical science, and communications. Contact individual programs for details.
A B.S. in Telecommunications Engineering Technology is heavily weighted in mathematics and science, in addition to the traditional general education requirements. Students expect to take numerous classes in statistics, calculus, physics, trigonometry and differential equations. Within the engineering technology major, the required core courses include:
- Network management
- Computer networking
- Engineering ethics
- C programming language
- Satellite transmission concepts
- Technical writing for engineers
Master's Degree in Telecommunications Engineering
A Master of Technology (M.T.) in Engineering Technology degree program prepares students for managerial and executive positions within the field. Programs last two years and degree candidates gain a sophisticated working knowledge of both network and project management during their course of study.
Coursework in an M.T. in Engineering Technology degree program continues to build upon previous skills taught in both associate and bachelor's degree programs, as well as preparing its graduates to either excel in industry applications or teach in baccalaureate or associate degree programs in the field. Required coursework includes:
- LAN/WAN technology
- Traffic engineering
- Data design networks
- Electrical grounding concepts
- Cellular engineering
- Mobile radio transmissions
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an A.A.S. in Telecommunications Engineering degree program may find employment working for cable companies, wireless telecommunications carriers, computer repair shops, computer software companies and government agencies. Job titles may include:
- Fiber optics technician
- Telecommunications service representative
- Data communications technician
- Computer network technician
- Communications engineering technician
Graduates of master's degrees in telecommunication engineering who are currently working in the field may find employment in the following positions:
- Facilities engineer
- Network support manager
- Network applications manager
- Telecommunications analyst
- Network planner
- Fiber engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2020 that electrical and electronics engineers in the telecommunications industry could expect to make an average annual salary of $103,390. Employment of electrical and electronics engineers is expected to experience a 3% job growth from 2019-2029. There will be growth due to engineers' expertise with developing new technologies. However, the use of contracted engineering services by companies which engineers rely will limit the expansion of jobs. (www.bls.gov).
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Voluntary certification for telecommunications professionals is available in the industry. The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers offers several professional designations for professionals who work with broadband, digital video or the Internet. Applicants who pass a multiple-choice exam may earn a professional certification in his or her specialty of choice; certifications must be renewed every three years.
Graduates with an A.A.S. in Telecommunications Engineering who want to further their studies may go on to earn a bachelor's or master's degree. A bachelor's degree in telecommunication engineering provides students with advanced training and prepares them to pursue a master's degree.
Focusing on telecommunications systems and their functions, A.A.S. in Telecommunication Engineering programs prepare students for entry level work as technicians. Those wanting to pursue a career as a telecommunications engineer will need to pursue a B.S. in Telecommunication Engineering, or for more advanced work, a M.T. in Engineering Technology.