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Career Definition for a Tip and Ring Technician
Tip and ring technicians work with color-coded wiring to establish analog landline phone connections; most of their work is for homes and small businesses. The terms 'tip' and 'ring' refer to the two wires of a telephone line - one positive (tip) and one negative (ring) - that create a phone circuit. Though commonly associated with 'Plain Old Telephone Systems' (POTS), tip and ring polarity must also be in balance for more complex PBX systems and T-1 lines to work properly. Tip and ring technicians spend most of their days in the field and are employed by large and small telecommunications companies and contractors throughout the United States.
|Education||High school diploma and work experience needed, associate degrees and continuing education courses available|
|Job Skills||Good eyesight and color vision, physical fitness, computer proficient, customer service|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$53,380 (for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||-8% (for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Tip and ring technology positions generally require a high school diploma or equivalent, with several years of experience working with analog phone lines. However, telephone professionals often take continuing education courses, pursue two-year associate degrees in the telecommunications field, and complete professional certification programs to become more competitive in the job market.
Tip and ring technicians must have good eyesight and must be able to determine colors. They must also be able to sit, stand, and crawl into tight spaces; climb ladders; stoop; and bend. They must have good communication skills and be computer proficient, often using a laptop from the field to keep in touch with supervisors. Tip and ring technicians usually need a driver's license and may be expected to provide their own transportation. Because most of their days are spent making service calls, they must have good customer service skills and be able to work independently.
While not as glamorous as some of the more advanced phone systems, tip and ring technology and POTS remain the standards in many homes and small businesses. Telecommunications jobs are expected to decline compared to other occupations from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers in particular, which includes tip and ring technicians, are predicted to decrease 8% from 2016-2026. The median salary for this occupation was $53,830 in 2017.
More opportunities are expected to be in wireless and digital phone services; however, tip and ring technicians may increase their job security by broadening their skill sets, completing certification programs, and taking classes offered through their employers and unions, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Alternate Career Options
Here are a few other choices in technological installation and repair:
Line Installer and Repairer
Line installers and repairers work in the field, running electric lines or telecommunications cables on poles or in trenches, respectively. They also make sure that associated components, like transformers, are in good working order, performing maintenance and repair tasks as needed. Line installers and repairers are high school graduates; those who have postsecondary education or training, such as a certificate or associate degree in telecommunications or a related field, may have better job prospects. A driver's license is also usually required. On-the-job training is common, and professional certification is available. The BLS expects that jobs in this field will increase 8% from 2016-2026. The agency also reports that this occupation paid a median salary of $64,190 in 2017.
Computer, ATM, and Office Machine Repairer
In this occupation, the repairer works on-site for businesses or residential customers to identify why a computer, ATM or office machine (like a copier or fax machine) doesn't work and determine how to fix it. When necessary, a repairer will install and test new machinery and show people how to use it. This occupation also requires some administrative skills, because computer, ATM, and office machine repairers have to keep track of work orders and related paperwork. This job requires at least a high school diploma and some postsecondary coursework in computer technology and electrical engineering, followed by on-the-job training. Industry and manufacturer certifications are available. The BLS reports that jobs in this field are estimated to decrease 2% from 2016-2026, and that computer, ATM, and office machine repairers earned median pay of $37,710 in 2017.