Telecommunications Management Master's and PhDs: Degrees at a Glance
Telecommunications can involve any wired or wireless technologies that allow people and businesses to communicate with each other. Computer networks are only a part of what you'll learn about; this area of study also covers the security issues and business needs commonly associated with telecommunications.
The master's degree program can be useful to information technology professionals who are seeking advancement in their current field or would like to pursue a management position in telecommunications. While the master's degree is sometimes required by employers, the PhD is really only useful to students who want to work in academia.
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals seeking mid-level telecommunications and information technology management positions||People who want to pursue teaching or research positions at universities or colleges|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary)|| - Telecommunication rates manager ($90,000 - with 7 years of experience)*|
- Telecommunications manager ($101,000 - with 5 years of experience)*
- Telecommunications director ($145,000 - with 10 years of experience)*
- Chief information technology officer ($232,000 - with 10 years of experience)*
| - University professor ($64,000)**|
- Telecommunications researcher (salary unavailable)
|Time to Completion||2 years, full-time||About 4 years, full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Approximately 4-6 core courses in telecommunications|
- About 5-7 specialization and elective courses
| - Roughly 7 -12 courses covering management and business concepts related to telecommunications|
- About 2 research courses
- Qualifying exams\comprehensive exams
|Prerequisites|| - Bachelor's degree|
- GRE scores
| - GRE or GMAT scores|
- Bachelor's degree
- Master's degree
Sources: *Salary.com (September 2012 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Master's in Telecommunications Management
Most master's programs in telecommunications management combine technical training in communications technology with business management principles, which can prepare you for a variety of management-level jobs. Upon completion of the program, you should have an in-depth understanding of communication networks and be able to design and carry out telecommunications projects. You may need to have some basic knowledge of computer programming languages and calculus before beginning your graduate coursework, which can be obtained through prerequisite courses.
Pros and Cons
- Can prepare you for business-oriented or technical positions
- Programs usually cover a variety of telecommunications topics, giving you a chance to learn about the different technologies and settings you may encounter
- Many programs require/provide an internship or hands-on experience opportunity, giving you a chance to get work experience before you graduate
- Most of the careers the program prepares you for don't require a master's degree
- You may need 5-10 years of experience to qualify for some of the higher-paying jobs
- Coursework covers a variety of practical and business concepts, limiting the amount of specialized training you could get from the program
Common Courses and Requirements
The early part of your program usually includes some core telecommunications courses, such as enterprise network management, telecommunications structures and telecommunications policy. You may also have the option to take a graduate-level business course in finance, marketing or economics. Most programs give you a specialization or set of telecommunication management courses/electives that makes up the rest of your program plan. Some of these courses may include:
- Organizational communication
- Social Web technologies
- Network security
- Engineering project management
- Planning information systems
Towards the end of the program, you may also be required to complete an internship or a telecommunications project.
The master's degree program in telecommunications management is available in an online format and can be found as a full- or part-time learning experience. Online programs may not include an internship option, but you'll typically still need to complete a capstone course and may have the option to participate in an independent or directed study experience. The coursework in online programs is comparable to on-campus programs, so you shouldn't have to worry about missing out on any learning opportunities by opting for a distance-learning program.
Standing Out with This Degree
You can get ahead early by having an idea of what technologies you'd like to work with, allowing you to find out which schools offer courses that cover those technologies. Since telecommunications management programs usually cover a broad range of topics, you can make the most out of your electives by focusing on courses that cover your interests.
Another benefit of knowing which specific technologies you'll likely be working on is that you can start preparing to obtain a certification early on. If you plan on working as a telecommunications engineer, you may want to look into the 3 levels of engineering certification offered by the International Association for Radio, Telecommunications and Electromagnetics (iNARTE). You'll need at least 4 years of experience or a bachelor's degree for the Junior Engineer designation, which is awarded after passing an exam.
The Telecommunications Certifications Organization also offers a number of certifications that you may find of use, including the Certified Telecom Network Expert (CTNE) and the Certified Telecommunications Analyst (CTA) designations. You'll need to take a series of courses and pass multiple exams to earn the CTA and CTNE designations.
Some schools offer a graduate certificate program in telecommunications management, which is meant for professionals who need specialized training. You'll need a bachelor's degree, GRE scores and a background in computers and programming to qualify for most certificate programs. This program usually consists of about 5 or 6 courses focused on telecommunications-related topics, such as enterprise telecommunications, telecommunications networking and telecommunications policy. You can usually count these courses towards a master's degree if you decide to continue your graduate studies. The graduate certificate program is also available online.
PhD in Telecommunications Management
Telecommunications management studies at the doctoral level are uncommon but can typically be found as a concentration within a business or technology management program. Most schools require you to have a master's degree to qualify for the PhD program, but you may find a few exceptions. This is a research-based program that is designed for students who want to work in academic settings. You'll work closely with multiple PhD committees, and your work is reviewed by them periodically to ensure that your performance is satisfactory.
Pros and Cons
- Could lead to tenured teaching opportunities at universities
- You can gain very specialized training from the program through a combination of elective courses and your dissertation research
- If you complete the program, you be one of the few who specializes in telecommunications management studies at the doctoral level
- Very few jobs in the telecommunications field actually require a PhD
- You'll likely spend nearly 10 years in school
- Few telecommunications management programs are available at this level, limiting your program options and possibly making it difficult to get admitted
- Strong competition was expected for tenured teaching positions from 2010-2020*
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Courses and Requirements
The first 2 years of the PhD program involve coursework. Some of the courses you might take include topics in telecommunications management, wireless network computing, risk management, telecommunications business environment and telecommunications applications. Following your second year, you'll take a series of qualifying exams before beginning work on your dissertation. Programs typically require a couple of telecommunications research courses as well.
Telecommunications management PhD programs are already rare and aren't currently available online. You'll need to be prepared to travel to your school's campus on a regular basis if you pursue this degree program.
Getting Ahead with This Degree
If you're planning on becoming a teacher, you may want to find out what teaching opportunities you'll have before enrolling in a program. PhD programs in telecommunications management don't usually include a teaching requirement, so you may want to see what options you have to get experience before you graduate. Research is a significant part of the PhD program, so prospective students may find it beneficial to find out what research areas of telecommunications management that faculty members are interested in.