The telecommunications equipment industry offers over 400,000 jobs spanning both blue- and white-collar sectors. Telecommunication describes the equipment and technology that underpins the way that we communicate with each other in the modern world. From telephone poles to fiberoptic cables, telecommunications equipment enables us to send videos, texts, phone calls, and even engage in high-frequency trading.
If you’ve ever seen a telephone pole mechanic attempt to fix a telephone pole, you’ve watched someone working in the telecommunications field. From fiber optics cables to controversial Huawei 5G towers, telecommunications is front and center in today’s world.
But how many jobs are available in this field? Are they accessible to anyone? For those with or without a degree, there are a plethora of telecommunications equipment jobs available in the industry. Keep reading to learn more about the telecommunications field, how many jobs are available in the industry, and what job you may be best suited for.
What is the telecommunicators industry?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the telecommunications industry is “primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access to facilities for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video.” Whether you’ve sent a text, a voice message, or multiple cat photos, you’re using technology provided by a company that is in the telecommunications industry.
The equipment underpinning telecommunications technology is not only important but is also constantly changing as technology improves. New network connection methods are being developed every day, which open up new positions for blue- and white-collar workers.
How many jobs are available in the telecommunications industry?
As of May 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated there were around 408,000 jobs available in the telecommunications industry. Since the BLS analyzes several individual jobs within the telecommunications industry, it’s difficult to say how much the industry as a whole is growing.
However, telecommunications equipment installers and repairers alone make up roughly 178,000 jobs and have a job outlook of 8%. Line installers and repairers offered over 230,000 jobs in 2021, with an expected job outlook of 6%. These numbers may seem small, but the BLS considers this level of growth to be larger than average, meaning thousands of jobs may open in the coming years. Of course, as technology advances and communications methods change, we’ll likely need even more people working in the telecommunications industry.
The majority of white-collar jobs in the telecommunications equipment sector will require a college degree. That being said, it’s not only engineering and science-related degrees that are applicable. The telecommunications equipment industry needs plenty of other people with a diverse set of degrees. Here are some of the white-collar jobs available.
Network engineer (fiberoptics)
Salary: $80,000 – $120,000
A network engineer in the fiberoptic subset of the telecommunications industry deals with the cables underneath the ground and ocean that allow us to access the internet. Furthermore, there are fiberoptic cables between places like New York and London that allow some of the largest hedge funds in the world to perform high-frequency trading.
Most TV and Cable companies will offer TV, internet, and more through fiber optic cables. A network engineer must understand how the networks fit together and how they interact with the “cloud.”
Salary: $75,000 – $115,000
All of the telecommunications equipment that we use on a regular basis is operated by a series of software programs. Software engineers are needed in many industries these days, but developing software for telecommunications equipment can give you a macro-view of how the technology underneath software fits together.
A good software engineer will understand not only how to edit and produce code but also understand the vulnerabilities in the system to help prevent bugs, malware, and hacking.
Field engineer (cell/data towers)
Salary: $50,000 – $75,000
Other than the handful of people using Starlink, most people get their mobile data from cell towers. These towers are the most important pieces of telecommunications infrastructure that create the foundation of 4G/5G/6G technology.
This role will encompass traditional engineering that is applicable to tower maintenance, as well as an understanding of how the tower is connected via software.
Salary: $80,000 – $ 130,000
A financial controller in the telecommunications equipment industry deals with the accounting and capital strategy behind the telecommunications equipment manufacturers’ customers. On the manufacturing end, the financial controller will be able to understand how to manage capital goods investment, production, and revenue.
For companies using telecommunication equipment, a financial controller will be able to negotiate with the manufacturers and parts providers to buy at preferred rates with the right timing.
Chief operating officer (COO)
Salary: $120,000 – $220,000
The chief operating officer, or COO, answers directly to the CEO to implement the overall business strategy of the telecom equipment company. They should have an understanding of what goals the company has and how to execute them to the most minute detail. They should also know the industry and what a company’s telecommunications budget would consist of.
A good COO can switch to any industry they want if they’re able to climb the career ladder. Whether it’s equipment underpinning a mobile phone network or satellites in the sky, the COO’s role is the same.
Don’t need a full-time job in the telecommunications equipment sector but are more looking for a side gig? Here are some of the best.
Obviously, when we’re talking about equipment, we’re talking about physical objects like cables, computers, and towers. This equipment needs to be installed and maintained, which is primarily handled by blue-collar jobs in the telecommunications equipment industry. Here are some you might want to consider.
Salary: $45,000 – $110,000
A lineworker can do a whole host of different things related to the telecommunications equipment industry. They can climb telephone poles, fix the telephone lines, and work on installing the fiber optic cables underneath.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary for line workers as $78,310, depending on the individual job. This is a very high-paying blue-collar position, so there are lots of opportunities for those who are good with their hands and understand how cables and lines connect to each other.
Quality control inspector
Salary: $36,000 – $75,000
The “cable guy” that comes to your house to check network connectivity is probably a quality control inspector. Not only do they check the quality during the telecommunications equipment installation, but they also must ensure that it’s functioning properly and working to the best of its ability.
If your internet is slow, then it could be the fault of the quality control inspector, who should be monitoring your telecommunications equipment and network connection methods. An eye for detail and an intrinsic urge to help people connect at the fastest speeds are important for a quality control inspector.
Salary: $60,000 – $120,000
If you’re happy earning a significant amount of your income from commissions, then a sales rep job could be perfect for you. A sales representative will be tasked with finding new accounts, closing them, and servicing them. An understanding of all the equipment and how it functions is paramount.
If you can speak to people and get them to sign on the dotted line, then this could be a great career path. Telecommunications is always evolving, and new equipment needs to be pitched and sold.
Heavy equipment operator
Salary: $45,000 – $60,000
When you install fiber optic cables in the ground or build a 5G tower, you need to dig up the ground and remove rocks and debris. Thus, a heavy equipment operator that can operate a “digger” is a must.
If you have previous experience in operating heavy equipment in construction, this is a good fit. If you drive a truck or some other non-heavy equipment vehicle, you can start looking to get a license to operate heavy equipment involved in installing telecommunications equipment.
Equipment technician (telecommunications equipment installers)
Salary: $45,000 – $75,000
A telecommunications equipment technician is similar to a quality control inspector but is more focused on the installation and de-installation of telecommunications equipment.
That being said, if you’re good at building and fixing things, this could be a good fit. Learning the technical aspect of how these products work is a great stepping stone to going higher in the industry.
What are the best jobs for telecommunications?
That really depends on your skill set. If you’re good at sales, telecommunications equipment companies are always in need of a sales representative. However, if you’re more interested in dealing with the engineering behind fiber optic cables and equipment that deals with internet protocol, then an engineer position might be more applicable.
Is telecommunication an occupation?
No, telecommunication is an industry, and there are several occupations that can be found in that industry. For instance, cable and television companies that provide fiber optic cables are in the telecommunications industry. The people working for them laying the cables are lineworkers, which is also within the telecommunications industry.
Is telecommunications equipment a good career path?
Yes, it is. People will always need to communicate with each other, and these days, telecommunications equipment is a fundamental part of it. As technology changes, there should be even more occupations opening with telecommunications equipment that most of us can’t even conceive of.
Is there a future in telecommunications?
Yes. Technology is everchanging, and communication is a necessity. Telecommunications will always be there until we have chips in our brains that allow us to communicate telepathically. However, even those chips could technically be considered telecommunications equipment.
- Jobs in the telecommunications industry revolve around installing, selling, or repairing equipment within a telecommunications network. Higher up the corporate ladder, jobs in the telecommunications industry also include COO and several engineering positions.
- There are a variety of white-collar jobs requiring college degrees, like computer science and engineering, and blue-collar jobs, like sales representative or line worker.
- Telecommunications is always changing, and we might not be able to conceive of the new equipment that might be available to a telecommunications operator in the future.
View Article Sources
- Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Line Installers and Repairers — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Industries at a Glance: Telecommunications — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Telecommunications — U.S. General Services Administration
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