Think of telecommunications as the world’s biggest machine. Strung together by complex networks, telephones, mobile phones and internet-linked PCs, the global system touches nearly all of us. It allows us to speak, share thoughts and do business with nearly anyone, regardless of where in the world they might be. Telecom operating companies operate or provide access to facilities for voice, data, text, sound, and video transmission through wired, wireless, or satellite networks.
Demand is driven by technological innovation and by growth in business activity and consumer spending. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient operations and good marketing. Large companies enjoy economies of scale in providing a highly automated service to large numbers of customers and in building and maintaining networks. Smaller companies can compete effectively by focusing on underserved markets or by providing specialty services.
With rapid technological changes in telecommunications, those with up-to-date technical skills will have the best job opportunities.
Average earnings in telecommunications greatly exceed average earnings throughout private industry.
- OCCUPATIONS IN THE INDUSTRY
Although the telecommunications industry employs workers in many different occupations, 56 percent of all workers are employed in either office and administrative support occupations or installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.
- Telephone craft workers install, repair, and maintain telephone equipment, cables and access lines, and telecommunications systems. These workers can be grouped by the type of work they perform.
- Line installers and repairers connect central offices to customers’ buildings. They install poles and terminals, and place wires and cables that lead to a consumer’s premises. They use power-driven equipment to dig holes and set telephone poles. Line installers climb the poles or use truck-mounted buckets (aerial work platforms) and attach the cables using various handtools. After line installers place cables on poles or towers or in underground conduits and trenches, they complete the line connections. Other installation duties include setting up service for customers and installing network equipment. To set up service, line installers string cable between the customers’ premises and the lines running on poles or towers or in trenches. They install wiring to houses and check the connection for proper voltage readings. Line installers also may install a variety of equipment. Workers on telephone and cable television lines install amplifiers and repeaters that maintain the strength of communications transmissions. Workers on electrical powerlines install and replace transformers, circuit breakers, switches, fuses, and other equipment to control and direct the electrical current.
- Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers, install, repair, and maintain the array of increasingly complex and sophisticated communications equipment and cables. Their work includes setting up, rearranging, and removing the complex switching and dialing equipment used in central offices. They may also solve network-related problems and program equipment to provide special features.
Some telecommunications equipment installers are referred to as telephone station installers and repairers. They install, service, and repair telephone systems and other communications equipment on customers’ property. When customers move or request new types of service, such as a high-speed Internet connection, a fax, or an additional line, installers relocate telephones or make changes in existing equipment. They assemble equipment and install wiring. They also connect telephones to outside service wires and sometimes must climb poles or ladders to make these connections.
Cable installers travel to customers’ premises to set up pay television service so that customers can receive programming. Cable service installers connect a customer’s television set to the cable serving the entire neighborhood. Wireless and satellite service installers attach antennas or satellite dishes to the sides of customers’ houses. These devices must be positioned to provide clear lines of sight to satellite locations.
Central office installers set up switches, cables, and other equipment in central offices. These locations are the hubs of a telecommunications network—they contain the switches and routers that direct packets of information to their destinations. Installing and maintaining this equipment requires a high level of technical knowledge.
PBX installers and repairers set up private branch exchange (PBX) switchboards, which relay incoming, outgoing, and interoffice calls within a single location or organization. To install switches and switchboards, installers first connect the equipment to power lines and communications cables and install frames and supports. They test the connections to ensure that adequate power is available and that the communication links function. They also install equipment such as power systems, alarms, and telephone sets. New switches and switchboards are computerized; workers install software or program the equipment to provide specific features.
Radio mechanics install and maintain radio transmitting and receiving equipment. This includes stationary equipment mounted on transmission towers and mobile equipment, such as radio communications systems in service and emergency vehicles. Radio mechanics do not work on cellular communications towers and equipment. Newer radio equipment is self-monitoring and may alert mechanics to potential malfunctions. When malfunctions occur, these mechanics examine equipment for damaged components and loose or broken wires. They use electrical measuring instruments to monitor signal strength, transmission capacity, interference, and signal delay, as well as handtools to replace defective components and parts and to adjust equipment so that it performs within required specifications.
- Telephone operators make telephone connections, assist customers with specialized services such as reverse-charge calls, provide telephone numbers, and may provide emergency assistance.
- Customer service representatives help customers understand the new and varied types of services offered by telecommunications providers. Some customer service representatives also are expected to sell services and may work on a commission basis. Other administrative support workers include financial, information, and records clerks; secretaries and administrative assistants; and first-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers. These workers keep service records, compile and send bills to customers, and prepare statistical and other company reports, among other duties.
- More than fifteen percent of the industry’s employees are professional workers. Many of these are scientific and technical personnel such as engineers and computer specialists. Engineers plan cable and microwave routes, central office and PBX equipment installations, and the expansion of existing structures, and solve other engineering problems. Some engineers also engage in research and development of new equipment. Many specialize in telecommunications design or voice, video, or data communications systems, and integrate communications equipment with computer networks. They work closely with clients, who may not understand sophisticated communications systems, and design systems that meet their customers’ needs. Computer software engineers and network systems and data communications analysts design, develop, test, and debug software products. These include computer-assisted engineering programs for schematic cabling projects; modeling programs for cellular and satellite systems; and programs for telephone options, such as voice mail, e-mail, and call waiting. Telecommunications specialists coordinate the installation of these systems and may provide follow up maintenance and training. In addition, the industry employs many other managerial, professional, and technical workers, such as financial information and record clerks; accountants and auditors; human resources, training, and labor relations managers; engineering technicians; and computer programmers.
- Almost twenty percent of the industry’s employees are in sales and related occupations. These workers sell telecommunications services, such as long-distance service, personal answering services, voice mail, e-mail, and call-waiting telephone options.
New occupational specialties have emerged based on the industry’s innovations and new technologies. For example, some engineers research, design, and develop gas lasers and related equipment needed to send messages through fiber optic cable transmission. They study the limitations and uses of lasers and fiber optics; find new applications for them; and oversee the building, testing, and operations of the new applications.
Due to the rapid introduction of new technologies and services, the telecommunications industry is among the most rapidly changing in the economy. This means workers must keep their job skills up to date. From managers to communications equipment operators, increased knowledge of both computer hardware and software is of paramount importance. Telecommunications industry employers now look for workers with knowledge of and skills in computer programming and software design; voice telephone technology, known as telephony; laser and fiber optic technology; wireless technology; and data compression. Individuals with sales ability enhanced by interpersonal skills and knowledge of telecommunications terminology are also sought.
This article was submitted by Allword Logistics, an international freight forwarding company based in Melbourne, Australiawho provide efficient and effective sea and air freight services.