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Telecommunications Engineer: Job Info & Career Requirements

Telecommunications engineers are electrical and electronics experts who may specialize in a certain type of technology, such as telephone networks or broadband telecommunications. Learn about education and training requirements, career prospects and salaries for telecommunications engineers.

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Career Definition for a Telecommunications Engineer

Telecommunications engineers design and install equipment used for transmitting wired phone, cellular, cable and broadband data. Their day-to-day responsibilities can include working with copper or fiber optic cabling, complex networks and switching systems. Telecommunications engineers may be employed by wired and wireless telecommunications companies, engineering consulting firms or government agencies.

Education Bachelor's degree in electrical or electronics engineering
Job Skills Analytical, problem-solvers, good concentration, excellent math skills, able to work well with others
Median Salary (2015)* $100,240 (for all types of computer network architects, including telecommunications engineering specialists)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (for all types of computer network architects, including telecommunications engineering specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Telecommunications engineers typically have bachelor's degrees in electrical or electronics engineering. Programs that have been approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be especially useful. New hires work under the supervision of senior-level professionals before becoming lead engineers with their own projects. Students who have earned a Professional Engineer (PE) credential may enjoy the advantage in the job market. The Society for Cable Telecommunications Engineers recommends that telecommunications engineers pursue continuing education courses, in order to advance their careers and keep current with industry trends (www.scte.org).

Skills Required

Telecommunications engineers are analytical, creative and methodical problem solvers with excellent concentration and math skills. As members of manufacturing teams, they are also collaborative professionals and good speakers with interpersonal intelligence and the ability to work well with others.

Career and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes telecommunications engineering specialists under the broader category of computer network architects. As of 2014-2024, job opportunities for this category were expected to increase by 9%. Computer network architects in general earned a median salary of $100,240 as of 2015.

By comparison, the BLS has projected a 0% change in growth in jobs nationwide for electrical and electronics engineers in general during the same 10-year period. As of May 2015, electrical and electronics engineers earned a median annual salary of $95,230 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Some other engineering careers to consider include the following two:

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design and test prototypes for a variety of aircraft, missiles, satellites and spacecraft, including those associated with national defense. To qualify for a position, candidates must have a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or similar field of study. Those working on national defense projects will need security clearances. The BLS reports that the number of openings for aerospace engineers are expected to decrease by 2% from 2014-2024. Median annual salaries for aerospace engineers were $107,830 in 2015.

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers, who earned median annual salaries of $132,800 in May 2015, will also see a slower-than-average (2%) growth in employment from 2014 through 2024. In general, their responsibilities include budgeting, researching and developing new products, as well as hiring and verifying the accuracy and credibility of lower-level staff work. Aspiring managers usually complete a specialized bachelor's or professional degree program in engineering or architecture, as well as five years of work experience. Some employers may also pay for graduate programs that lead to a Master of Business Administration or Master of Engineering Management.

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