Electronic Communications Technician Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an electronic communications technician career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming an electronic communications technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Electronic Communications Technician

Electronic communications technicians, also known as telecommunication equipment installers and repairers, set up and maintain equipment used for electronic communication through telephones, television and the Internet. Read on for more pros and cons in the field to find out if becoming an electronic communications technician is right for you.

Pros of a Career as an Electronic Communications Technician
Above-average pay (median annual salary of about $55,190 in 2014)*
A certificate or associate degree may be enough for many positions*
Union jobs have good benefits (life insurance, dental, vision and health)*
A chance for mobility into other jobs (office work, sales and repair specialist work)*

Cons of a Career as an Electronic Communications Technician
May work weekends, holidays and be on call*
Continuing education is typically required*
Bachelor's degree is commonly required for some more advanced or complex positions*
Work is physically demanding (can require workers to crawl into or reach awkward places and lift heavy objects)*
Work can be dangerous (burns and shocks are common, sometimes workers must repair equipment that is still in operation)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Job Descriptions and Duties

Telecommunication equipment installers and repairers can be divided into a number of sub-categories, such as central office technicians, headend technicians, private branch exchange (PBX) installers and station installers. These designations are related to the type of equipment these technicians, installers and repairers interact with, which can vary in complexity and work setting. For example, central office technicians are employed at the switching hubs, or central offices, where they set up routers, switches and cables. Headend technicians do the same types of things, but for cable television.

PBX installers and repairers set up, test and maintain computerized switchboards that relay phone calls for a single location or organization. Working in this occupation, you might also set up alarms, telephone sets and power systems. Telecommunications service technicians, or home installers and repairers, repair and install telecommunications equipment and wiring in homes and businesses. You might work with phones, Internet and television connections. Working in this occupation, you'd often have to climb ladders or poles for testing or maintenance.

Career Prospects and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that telecommunication equipment installers and repairers, excluding line installers, were expected to see a 4% decline in job growth rates from 2014-2024. This decline is the result of both an increase in demand for wireless services, which needs less installation work than wired service, and the increased durability of modern equipment, which requires fewer repairs.

In 2014, the BLS reported that these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $55,190. In the same year, the BLS reported that the top ten percent of earners in the field took home $77,200 or more annually, while the bottom ten percent earned about $30,610 or less each year.

What Are the Requirements?

According to the BLS, at least some college experience is usually required if you want to be an electronic communications technician. You may consider completing a certificate or associate degree program in a subject like computer science or electronic repair. In some cases, a bachelor's degree may be mandatory. Additionally, some jurisdictions and employers might require certification, and you may need to obtain certification to work with certain equipment. Other useful skills for an aspiring telecommunications technician could include:

  • Customer-service skills
  • Dexterity
  • Basic math skills
  • Problem-solving skills

Job Posting from Real Employers

You'll have the best job prospects if you have strong computer skills and training in electronics. Experience and relevant education are typically mandatory for employment in this field. Read the following excerpts from real job listings in March 2012, to see what the employers were seeking:

  • A phone company in Texas advertised for a full-time communication technician. Job duties included supporting local phone systems, preventative maintenance, troubleshooting, on-call support and training other personnel. Applicants were expected to hold an associate's degree with specific systems' experience, and an applicant without a degree was expected to have equivalent years of work experience, computer proficiency, communication skills the ability to work independently.
  • An electric company in Kentucky was looking for a full-time communication technician with over two years of experience and at least 620 hours of formal training after high school. Work would include maintenance of digital microwave radio systems, fiber optic and power line carrier equipment, telephones and teleprotection units. You'd be required to travel and be available on call.
  • A company in Pennsylvania advertised for a communication technology technician with a 4-year degree and at least five years of experience. You'd be responsible for wired and wireless data and telephone network equipment. This company required excellent communication skills and an understanding of supporting mobile devices.

How to Maximize Your Skills

To stand out in this profession, you can work to become computer literate, attend a training program and get on-the-job training. You'll also want to take advantage of any additional training available through current employers in communications systems, electronics, or software. You'll benefit from many relevant licensure and certifications earned, even when not required. You could consider the Telecommunications Industry Association and the Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers for professional certification.

According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree may be preferred for some more complex positions. Earning a bachelor's degree could give you an edge when gaining employment and could prepare you for an advanced job in the field, such as a central office technician.

Other Career Paths

Line Installers and Repairers

As an alternative to telecommunications equipment installation and repair, you may also consider line installation and repair. Technicians in this line of work install, repair and maintain power lines and telecommunication cables. Like telecommunication installers and technicians, these workers are expected to see a growth rate that's about as fast as average from 2010-2020, and they make a median annual salary of about $52,000 annually, according to the BLS. These professionals may need some college education, but a high school diploma and on-the-job training could be sufficient for some positions.

Electricians

If you're interested in working with electronics while earning an above-average annual salary but you have no interest in attending college, you may consider becoming an electrician. Most electricians learn all their skills through an on-the-job apprenticeship, and they earn a median annual salary of about $49,000 a year, according to the BLS. However, these professionals are expected to see only a three percent growth in job rates from 2010-2020. Electricians inspect, install and repair circuitry and wiring, and must typically be licensed by the state.

Popular Schools

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    1. ECPI University

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    3. Full Sail University

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    6. Penn Foster Career School

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      • Career Diploma: Electronics Technician
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ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Mechatronics
  • Bachelor's - Electronics Engineering Technology
  • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology

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Lincoln Tech

  • Electrical/Electronics

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Full Sail University

  • BS - Audio Production

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Brightwood College

  • Electrical Technician Diploma

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Electronics Technician

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Southwestern College