Talking on the phone. Texting. Sending an email. Surfing the Web. Watching cable or satellite TV. These are just some of the telecommunications-related activities that you might take for granted as you go about your daily life. But go a day—or even a few hours—without your phone, Internet connection, or favorite cable channel, and you will quickly come to appreciate the importance of telecommunications professionals.
The modern telecommunications industry consists of companies that provide wired and wireless communication, Internet, and cable and satellite services. There are numerous and diverse employment opportunities available—whether you want to install fiber optic cable, design and build cutting-edge cell phone technology, help customers troubleshoot problems, teach students about telecommunications, write technical manuals and user guides, sell telecommunications products and services, or work in other specialties.
Careers in telecommunications offer a great range of earnings potential and educational requirements. Earnings range from slightly more than minimum wage to $100,000 or more for very experienced and successful college professors, engineers, designers, and marketing and sales workers. A few of these careers—such as cable television technician, customer service representative, fiber optics technician, and line installer—require a high school diploma and on-the-job training, and are excellent starting points for a career in the industry. Others, such as engineering technician, microelectronics technician, and wireless service technician, require some postsecondary training or an associate’s degree. Many professional and marketing positions in the industry (such as engineer, designer, and marketing research analyst) require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. The career of college professor requires at least a master’s degree. Advanced degrees—especially for science and engineering professionals—are usually required for the best positions.
Approximately 973,000 people are employed in the telecommunications industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Large telecommunications companies include Qualcomm, AT&T, Verizon, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Comcast Cable Communications, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, DirecTV, and Dish Network Services.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment in the telecommunications industry will increase by 5 percent through 2016—or more slowly than the average for all industries. Despite this prediction, opportunities should be good—especially in the short term—as companies build more advanced communications networks, improve the speed and reliability of the Internet and wire less networks, and offer more products and services. Once these improved systems are in place, employment may slow for workers in installation and maintenance.
Employment should be best for customer service representatives, electrical and electronics engineers, wireless sales workers, and computer support specialists. Workers with advanced training and education will have the best employment opportunities in this highly technological and rewarding field.
Each article in this guide discusses a particular telecommunications industry occupation in detail. The articles in this guide have been updated and revised with the latest information from the U.S. Department of Labor, professional organizations, and other sources.
The following paragraphs detail the sections and features that appear in the guide.
The Fast Facts section provides a brief summary of the career including recommended school subjects, personal skills, work environment, minimum educational requirements, salary ranges, certification or licensing requirements, and employment outlook. This section also provides acronyms and identification numbers for the following government classification indexes: the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the Guide for Occupational Exploration (GOE), the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Index, and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) Occupational Classification System (SOC) index. The DOT, GOE, and O*NET indexes have been created by the U.S. government; the NOC index is Canada’s career classification system. Readers can use the identification numbers listed in the Fast Facts section to access further information about a career. Print editions of the DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Indianapolis, In.: JIST Works, 1991) and GOE (Guide for Occupational Exploration. Indianapolis, In.: JIST Works, 2001) are available at libraries. Electronic versions of the NOC (http://www23.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca) and O*NET-SOC (http://online.onetcenter.org) are available on the Internet. When no DOT, GOE, NOC, or O*NET numbers are present, this means that the U.S. Department of Labor or Human Resources Development Canada have not created a numerical designation for this career. In this instance, you will see the acronym “N/A,” or not available.
The Overview section is a brief introductory description of the duties and responsibilities involved in this career. Oftentimes, a career may have a variety of job titles. When this is the case, alter native career titles are presented. Employment statistics are also provided, when available. The History section describes the history of the particular job as it relates to the overall development of its industry or field. The Job describes the primary and secondary duties of the job. Requirements discusses high school and post- secondary education and training requirements, any certification or licensing that is necessary, and other personal requirements for success in the job. Exploring offers suggestions on how to gain experience in or knowledge of the particular job before making a firm educational and financial commitment. The focus is on what can be done while still in high school (or in the early years of college) to gain a better understanding of the job. The Employers section gives an overview of typical places of employment for the job. Starting Out discusses the best ways to land that first job, be it through the college career services office, newspaper ads, Internet employment sites, or personal contact. The Advancement section describes what kind of career path to expect from the job and how to get there. Earnings lists salary ranges and describes the typical fringe benefits. The Work Environment section describes the typical surroundings and conditions of employment—whether indoors or outdoors, noisy or quiet, social or independent. In addition, this section discusses typical hours worked, any seasonal fluctuations, and the stresses and strains of the job. The Outlook section summarizes the job in terms of the general economy and industry projections. For the most part, Outlook information is obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, and is supplemented by information gathered from professional associations. Job growth terms follow those used in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Growth described as “much faster than the average” means an increase of 21 percent or more. Growth described as “faster than the average” means an increase of 14 to 20 percent. Growth described as “about as fast as the average” means an increase of 7 to 13 percent. Growth described as “more slowly than the average” means an increase of 3 to 6 percent. “Little or no change” means a decrease of 2 percent to an increase of 2 percent. “Decline” means a decrease of 3 per cent or more. Each article ends with For More Information, which lists organizations that provide information on training, education, internships, scholarships, and job placement.
Careers and Jobs in Telecommunications also includes photographs, informative sidebars, and interviews with professionals in the field.
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