Telephone Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Read on to see what telephone technicians do, and explore the training and education required to become one. Get details about job prospects and earning potential to decide if this career is right for you.

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Career Definition

Telephone technicians work in a rapidly changing industry, so up-to-date skills and in-depth knowledge of a variety of phone systems and equipment are essential. In any given day, they may install phone systems, troubleshoot wiring problems, or repair switch equipment. They must be familiar with analog and digital phone systems, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which uses broadband connections to place calls over computer networks. Increasingly, telephone technicians must be able to test and install VoIP networks as analog phone systems are replaced by digital. While deregulation continues to affect the industry, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that many workers are finding opportunities throughout the U.S. at smaller to medium-sized telecommunications companies.

Become a Telephone Technician

Required Education

Telephone technician positions often require postsecondary education in telecommunications, such as an associate's degree, but many employers will also consider candidates with a high school diploma or equivalent if they have several years of relevant experience. As phone systems in the workplace become increasingly complex, professional certification programs, such as those offered through the Cisco Learning Network, may not only give candidates a leg-up in the job market, but are becoming requirements for certain positions.

Skills Required

Telephone technicians must have good communication and technical skills to effectively diagnose and solve problems. They must be familiar with a variety of phone systems and be able to perform a wide range of services, from basic repair to full installation. They must be team players and have good customer service and project management skills to ensure that phone systems are configured and programmed according to the customer's needs. Telephone technicians must also possess good computer and organizational skills so that they can place equipment orders and monitor service requests. They also need hand and finger dexterity and good eyesight with the ability to determine colors.

Economic Outlook

The BLS expects job growth for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers - including telephone technicians - to increase at a slower than average rate of 4% for the 2012-2022 period. However, certain sectors, such as wireless and digital, may expand as demand for those services increases. Telephone technology, such as VoIP, is rapidly changing the way companies communicate and may increase job prospects for telephone technicians who pursue certification. According to the BLS, telecommunications workers earned an average salary of $53,710 per year in May 2012.

Alternate Career Options

Line Installer and Repairer

Line installers and repairers work on either electrical systems or telecommunication systems out in the field. They are responsible for fixing problems along existing electric lines or telecommunications cables; they also string new lines or lay new cables. Line installers and repairers must be high school graduates; they may also hold a certificate or associate's degree in telecommunications or a related field. Voluntary industry certifications are available. Line installers and repairers may also need a commercial driver's license. The BLS estimates that jobs for line installers and repairers will grow 7% from 2012-2022, and that line installers and repairers earned median pay of $58,210 in 2012.

Broadcast Technician

A broadcast technician is responsible for the operation of the transmitters that make radio and television possible. He or she may also edit audiovisual recordings and monitor the equipment that controls the signals sent out by broadcast transmitters. An associate's degree in a relevant field is typically required for employment. There are several voluntary industry certification options for broadcast technicians. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 9% from 2012-2022. The median pay of broadcast technicians was $37,880 in 2012, per the BLS.

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