Interior Communications Electrician Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a career as an interior communications electrician? Read real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if this career choice could be right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Interior Communications Electrician

Also known as telecommunications equipment installers and repairers or telecom technicians, these electricians set up equipment to carry communications signals, access the Internet and connect phone lines. Read below to find out more of the pros and cons of this career.

Pros of a Career as an Interior Communications Electrician
Various career paths available*
Typically work in climate-controlled areas*
Union members working for large companies often have good benefits*
Good job opportunities for central office, headend technicians and PBX installers*

Cons of a Career as an Interior Communications Electrician
Rate of illness and injury is higher than average*
Can be physically demanding*
May have to work evenings, weekends or holidays*
Strong competition for station installer and repairer jobs*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Descriptions and Specializations

Interior communications technicians install and repair communications equipment in homes, offices and new building construction. Job duties may vary, depending on area of specialization and job location. Central office technicians set up communications equipment such as fiber-optic cables in switching hubs, which are also called central offices. Headend technicians do similar work at distribution centers for television and cable companies. Private branch exchange (PBX) installers set up switchboards to relay phone calls within a single location. This includes installing software, power systems, telephones and alarms. Station installers, also called home installers, set up telephones, Internet and cable television service in businesses and homes. If there's a problem, they test the lines to find out where the problem is and make the necessary repairs.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers are predicted to grow 4% from 2012 to 2022, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Opportunities vary by specialty, with central office, headend and PBX installers having the best prospects, while station installers will face keen competition.

In May 2014, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was about $55,000. The top-paying industries in this occupation included data processing and hosting, scientific research and development services, electric power generation, natural gas distribution and office administrative services. The BLS indicated that the top-paying states included Rhode Island, Alaska, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

What Are the Requirements?

Education, Training and Certifications

Some telecom technicians are trained through certificate or 2-year associate's degree programs in computer science or electronics repair. Central office or headend technicians may be expected to have a bachelor's degree. If you're more interested in working as a station installer, the education requirements are lower. You might gain skills on-the-job or by reading equipment manuals and attending training sessions offered by software and equipment manufacturers. Certain kinds of work require certifications, which may vary by location. Certifications are offered by some manufacturers and by organizations like the Telecommunications Industry Association and the Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers.

What Are Employers Seeking?

Many employers prioritize experience. Some are also looking for specific skill sets in areas such as cable and electrical test equipment, network data and computers. Read the following excerpts taken from real job postings in April 2012 to see who employers want to hire.

  • An environmental company in New York advertised for a full-time data communications technician. This position required extensive travel throughout the New York metro area, servicing communications and data equipment at retail locations. This employer required network, electronic, computer and mechanical skills, along with at least 2 years of experience in cable and electrical test equipment, network data and tooling.
  • A company in Missouri was looking for a full-time cable technician to install low-voltage cable TV, high-speed data and telephone systems. This employer didn't require experience and offered paid training. The ideal candidate would need to pass a physical, drug screen and fitness test, in addition to background and Department of Motor Vehicle checks.
  • A company in California advertised for a full-time telecommunications service technician. Job duties would include planning network installations, establishing voice and data networks, verifying service, recording configuration diagrams and specifications, maintaining networks and inventorying supply stock. This employer required 4 years of experience, great communication skills, computer proficiency and willingness to work on call. Industry certifications were a huge plus.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Technology is rapidly changing and expanding. The BLS indicates that you might stand out to potential employers if you have formal postsecondary electronics education and further training in computers. With advanced training, you might become a troubleshooter, helping other repairers figure out difficult problems. As an experienced home installer, you could possibly get jobs wiring entire computer networks.

Other Careers to Consider

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

If you like installing electronics but want to specialize in broadcast and sound, you may consider becoming a broadcast and sound engineering technician. These technicians set up and operate electrical equipment for television and radio broadcasts, sound recordings, movies and concerts. Formal training through work experience or postsecondary education is often required. According to the BLS in 2011, the median annual wage for sound engineering technicians was approximately $47,000 and $36,000 for broadcast technicians. The BLS indicated that employment for both careers was expected to grow 10% from 2010-2020, as fast as average for all occupations.

Computer, Automated Teller (ATM) and Office Machine Repairers

Workers in this field install, repair and maintain machines used in many homes and businesses. Some type of electronics training is helpful to enter this field and various certifications are available from organizations such as the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA). The BLS reports that employment growth from 2010-2020 was expected to be just seven percent, slower than average. The best prospects for ATM repairers were in network security. In May 2011, the BLS stated that the median annual wage for these individuals was about $37,000.

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