Telecommunications technology programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels at various colleges and universities around the country. Enrollees can prepare to become equipment installers, fiber engineers and telecom line installers. Some programs are offered online, and some feature internships and/or thesis requirements.
Associate's Degree in Telecommunications Technology
An associate's degree program in telecommunications technology acquaints students with fundamental electrical concepts and the performance capabilities of telecom network equipment. Program content covers the technical distinctions between voice and data transmission, LAN and WAN networking topographies, telecom software applications and transmission media, such as fiber, wireline and wireless. Students also learn to read schematics and develop oral and written communications skills.
A high school diploma or GED is required for admission to an associate's degree program. Preparatory courses in algebra and physics are considered helpful. General education courses in history, psychology and economics are often part of this associate's degree program curriculum. Many telecommunications programs include supplementary and supporting courses in technical writing and technical math. Specific course topics often include:
- General electronics
- AC and DC circuits
- Applied telecommunications concepts
- Telecom computer systems
- Basic voice and telephony systems
- Telecom networking technology
Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunications Engineering Technology
A bachelor's degree program in telecommunications engineering technology includes in-depth coverage of the computing systems and electrical engineering concepts underlying modern telecom systems. Broadband Internet and data transfer protocols are areas of emphasis. Lab courses enable students to improve their analytical and problem solving capabilities, as well as design new uses for telecom technology. Some programs provide internship opportunities with major telecom and technology development companies. Admission to a bachelor's degree program requires a GED or high school diploma. Some schools strongly recommend courses in geometry, algebra and trigonometry, chemistry and physics.
Courses in composition, the social sciences, behavioral sciences and humanities make up the liberal arts component of a bachelor's degree program. The telecom core curriculum is likely to include courses in technical math and statistics, additional topics include:
- Switching technology
- Telecom programming
- Fiber optics fundamentals
- Wireless networks
- Voice over IP systems
Master's Degree in Telecommunications Technology
A master's degree program in telecommunications technology integrates material learned at the undergraduate level with content emphasizing administrative and management functions in telecommunications. Students gain proficiency in evaluating technologies for particular telecom needs, the design of telecom networks and the assessment of network efficiency. A master's degree can typically be completed in two years and may be available entirely online. A bachelor's degree is required for admission to this master's degree program, preferably in telecommunications or electrical engineering. Schools may also require an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better and demonstrated competency in written communication.
The curriculum in a master's degree program is often organized into core, specialty and elective courses. Some programs have a thesis and non-thesis option, with the latter requiring completion of more telecommunications technology courses. Common coursework includes:
- Telecom security
- Telecom network design
- Telecom project management
- Telecommunications and public policy
- Global telecom management
Popular Career Options
Earning a telecommunications technology bachelor's degree qualifies technicians for more complex central office positions. Possible job titles include the following:
- Telecommunications analyst
- Fiber engineer
- Telecommunications network engineer
- Telecom network planner
Telecom experts who earn a master's degree can consider a number of specializations within the industry. The following areas are open to master's degree holders:
- Telecom research
- Telecom network administration
- Telecom network design
- Telecom project planning
- Telecom regulation and policy
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of an associate's degree program in telecommunications technology are qualified for positions as telecom line installers and equipment installers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment growth will be 6% for line installers and repairers, while job opportunities will decrease by 4% for equipment installers and repairers over the years 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
The BLS also states that the need for more telecom infrastructure to meet demand for phone and Internet service by an expanding population will account for predicted growth. As of May 2015, the median annual salary of telecom line installers and repairers is $52,920, while telecom equipment installers and repairers earn $54,570 per year, according to the BLS.
Opportunities exist within the telecommunications technology field, though individuals interested in this field may want to adjust their studies to make sure they are qualified for a number of jobs within the industry to increase their likelihood of being hired.