Satellite technology providers often hire entry-level technicians with little to no experience or formal schooling. Many satellite companies provide on-the-job training for new technicians. A high school diploma is typically the minimum level of education required; however, some employers may prefer to hire applicants who have completed a college degree program in telecommunications or electronics. Associate's degree programs are occasionally available online or as a hybrid program. Prospective enrollees must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Associate of Applied Science in Telecommunications Technology
While related 4-year degree programs are available, most employers do not require technicians to have this type of training. A 2-year degree is typically sufficient. Formal training programs often involve labs and demonstrations, which give students hands-on experience with satellite equipment and technologies.
Students pursuing satellite technology training through telecommunications programs study principles of communications networks. Topics include wired and wireless systems, data and voice transmission technologies, electronic circuits and protocols. Additionally, they may study:
- Telecommunications operations
- Troubleshooting techniques
- Satellite system wiring and installation
- System performance monitoring and signal testing
- Fiber optics technology
Associate of Applied Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Electronics technology majors learn to work with electricity and build the skills needed for the installation, repair and maintenance of electronic systems and components. They also study fundamentals of math and physics. Electronic technology 2-year programs underscore topics such as:
- Data communication systems
- Computer technology and microprocessors
- Digital electronics
- Analog and solid state electronics
Continuing Education and Licensing Information
Many employers are willing to hire inexperienced technicians. However, some may require applicants to have at least one year of experience in electronics or telecommunications. Newly hired satellite technicians may first work as assistants to experienced co-workers. Assistants start by performing basic tasks, including surveying work sites or preparing cables, and advance to satellite installation as their skills increase. With experience, satellite technicians may move to positions in sales, training or management.
Experienced satellite technicians can look to the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (www.sbca.com), which offers voluntary certifications in residential satellite installations and repair. In order to qualify for its Satellite Fundamentals or Multiple Dwelling Unit/Satellite Master Antenna Television Essentials (MDU/SMATV) certification, professionals must attend specialized training and pass an exam. Certifications are valid for two years, at which point satellite technicians must retest to prove their continued competence.
Satellite technicians may attend employer-sponsored training seminars, which may be held in conjunction with telecommunications organizations, such as the National Coalition for Telecommunications Education (www.nactel.org). These seminars offer a way for satellite technicians to stay abreast of technological advances within the telecommunications industry. Additionally, groups like the Communication Workers of America (www.cwa-union.org) may host 2-3 day conferences.
Satellite technicians can look to the web for continuing education resources, such as virtual newsletters and articles. There are also satellite-specific instructional videos on the web. Satellite technicians can also procure printed handbooks related to satellite installation and repair. Advancing and evolving technologies may require satellite technicians to continually update their skill sets over the course of their careers.
Individuals interested in a career as a satellite technician can choose from an Associate of Applied Science in Telecommunications Technology or Electronics Engineering Technology program. Both programs provide students with hands-on experience with satellite equipment and technologies.