Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers

Summary

telecommunications equipment installers and repairers except line installers image
Telecom technicians install and repair telecommunications equipment in offices and homes.
Quick Facts: Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers
2012 Median Pay $54,530 per year
$26.22 per hour
Entry-Level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 217,200
Job Outlook, 2012-22 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 8,400

What Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers Do

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, also known as telecom technicians, set up and maintain devices or equipment that carry communications signals, connect to telephone lines, or access the Internet.

Work Environment

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers generally work in climate-controlled central offices or electronic service centers. They also work in the homes and offices of customers. Some technicians must travel frequently to installation and repair sites. Most technicians work full time.

How to Become a Telecommunications Equipment Installer or Repairer Except Line Installer

Telecom technicians typically need some postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computer technology, and receive on-the-job training. Industry certification is required for some positions.

Pay

The median annual wage for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $54,530 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Candidates with a 2-year degree and strong customer-service and computer skills will have the best job prospects.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers except line installers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about telecommunications equipment installers and repairers except line installers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers Do

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers
Installers set up a small television antenna.

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, also known as telecom technicians, set up and maintain devices or equipment that carry communications signals, connect to telephone lines, or access the Internet.

Duties

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Install communications equipment in offices, private homes, and buildings that are under construction
  • Set up, rearrange, or replace routing and dialing equipment
  • Inspect and service equipment, wiring, and phone jacks
  • Repair or replace faulty, damaged, or malfunctioning equipment
  • Test repaired, newly installed, or updated equipment to ensure that it works properly
  • Adjust or calibrate equipment settings to improve its performance
  • Keep records of maintenance, repairs, and installations
  • Demonstrate and explain the use of equipment to customers

Telephone, computer, and cable telecommunications systems rely on equipment to process and transmit vast amounts of data. Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers—often called telecom technicians—install and service this equipment.

Telecom technicians use many different tools to inspect equipment and diagnose problems. For instance, to locate distortions in signals, they may employ spectrum analyzers and polarity probes. They also commonly use hand tools, including screwdrivers and pliers, to take equipment apart and repair it.

Many technicians also work with computers, specialized hardware, and other diagnostic equipment. They follow manufacturer’s instructions or technical manuals to install or update software and programs for devices.

Those who work at a client’s location must track hours worked, parts used, and bills collected. Installers who set up and maintain lines outdoors are classified as line installers and repairers.

The specific tasks of telecom technicians vary depending on their specialization and where they work.

The following are examples of types of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers:

Central office technicians set up and maintain switches, routers, fiber optic cables, and other equipment at switching hubs, called central offices. These hubs send, process, and amplify data from thousands of telephone, Internet, and cable connections. Technicians receive alerts on equipment malfunctions from auto-monitoring switches and are able to correct the problems remotely. 

Headend technicians perform similar work to central office installers and repairers, but work at distribution centers for cable and television companies, called headends.

PBX installers and repairers set up and service private branch exchange—or PBX—switchboards. This equipment relays incoming, outgoing, and interoffice telephone calls at a single location. Some systems use computers to run Internet access, network applications, and telephone communications, and support Voice over Internet Protocol—or VoIP—technology.

PBX installers connect telecom equipment to communications cables. They test the connections to ensure that adequate power is available and communication links work properly. They install frames, supports, power systems, alarms, and telephone sets. Because switches and switchboards are computerized, PBX installers also install software or program the equipment.

Station installers and repairers—sometimes known as home installers and repairers—set up and repair telecommunications equipment in customers’ homes and businesses. For example, they set up modems to install telephone, Internet, or cable television services.

When customers have problems, station repairers test the customer’s lines to determine if the problem is inside or outside. If the problem is inside, they try to repair it. If the problem is outside, they refer the problem to line repairers.

Work Environment

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers
Telecommunications equipment installers check server connections.

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers held about 217,200 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most telecommunications equipment installers and repairers in 2012 were as follows: 

Wired telecommunications carriers55%
Building equipment contractors12
Other telecommunications6
Cable and other subscription programming5
Wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite)4

Central office technicians generally work in climate-controlled central offices or electronic service centers. PBX and station installers and repairers travel frequently to installation and repair sites, such as homes and offices. Equipment installation may require climbing on rooftops and into attics, and climbing ladders and telephone poles.

Telecom technicians occasionally work in cramped, awkward positions where they often stoop, crouch, crawl, or reach high to do their work. Sometimes they must lift or move heavy equipment and parts. They also may work on equipment while it is powered, so they need to take necessary precautions.

Injuries and Illnesses

Telecom technicians have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Although minor falls, burns, and electrical shocks are common, the work is generally not dangerous when safety precautions are taken.

To reduce risk of injury, workers wear hardhats and harnesses when working on ladders or on elevated equipment. To prevent electrical shocks, technicians also may lock off power to equipment under repair.

Work Schedules

Most telecom technicians work full time.

Some businesses offer 24-hour repair services. Telecom technicians in these companies work shifts, including evenings, holidays, and weekends. Some are on call around the clock in case of emergencies.

How to Become a Telecommunications Equipment Installer or Repairer Except Line Installer

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers
A technician makes repairs to a telecommunication system.

Telecom technicians typically need some postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computer technology and receive on-the-job training. Industry certification is required for some positions.

Education

Postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computers is typically needed for telecom technicians. 

Technical programs with courses in basic electronics, telecommunications, and computer science offered in community colleges and technical schools may be particularly helpful. Most programs lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree in electronics repair, computer science, or related subjects.

Some employers prefer to hire candidates with an associate’s degree, particularly for positions such as central office technicians, headend technicians, and those working with commercial communications systems.

Training

Once hired, telecom technicians receive on-the-job training, typically lasting a few months. Training involves a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on work with an experienced technician. In these settings, workers learn the equipment’s internal parts and the tools needed for repair. Technicians who have completed postsecondary education often require less on-the-job instruction than those who have not. 

Large companies may send new employees to training sessions to learn about equipment, procedures, and technologies offered by equipment manufacturers or industry organizations.

Because technology in this field is rapidly evolving, telecom technicians must continue learning about new equipment over the course of their careers. They may attend manufacturers’ training classes, study equipment manuals, or obtain hands-on experience with the latest equipment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some technicians must be certified to perform certain tasks or to work on specific equipment. Certification requirements vary by employer and specialization.

Organizations such as the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and the Telecommunications Industry Association offer certifications for telecom technicians. Some manufacturers also provide certifications for working with specific equipment.

Advancement

Advancement opportunities often depend on previous work experience and training. Repairers with extensive knowledge of equipment may be qualified to become manufacturer’s sales workers.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Installers and repairers must be able to distinguish different colors because the wires they work with are color-coded.

Customer-service skills. Because many telecom technicians work in customers’ homes and offices, they should be friendly and polite. In addition, they often explain how to maintain and operate equipment to people who have little or no technical knowledge.

Dexterity. Many telecom technician tasks, such as repairing small devices, connecting components, and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Telecom technicians must be familiar with the devices they install and repair, their internal parts, and the appropriate tools needed to use, install, or fix them. They must also be able to understand manufacturer’s instructions when installing or repairing equipment.

Troubleshooting skills. When telecommunications equipment malfunctions, technicians troubleshoot and devise solutions to problems that are not immediately apparent.

Pay

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

$54,530

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$41,020

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers was $54,530 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,840, and the top 10 percent earned more than $75,040.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers in the top five industries employing these workers were as follows:

Other telecommunications$65,540
Wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite)56,590
Wired telecommunications carriers56,410
Cable and other subscription programming49,270
Building equipment contractors44,450

Most telecom technicians work full time.

Some businesses offer 24-hour repair services. Telecom technicians in these companies work shifts, including nights, holidays, and weekends. Some are on call around the clock in case of emergencies.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, telecommunications equipment installers and repairers had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012.

Job Outlook

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

10%

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

4%

 

Employment of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations.

Consumers, businesses, and governments will continue to demand Internet, cable, or wireless services that provide faster and better connections. Building, maintaining, and upgrading the networks and equipment that support them should create some jobs.

However, overall employment growth of telecom technicians may be offset by a decline in maintenance work. Modern equipment is more reliable, sturdier, easier to repair remotely, and more resistant to damage from the elements, limiting the need for telecom repair technicians.

Job Prospects

Although job opportunities will vary by specialty, those with postsecondary electronics or telecommunications education and strong customer-service and computer skills should have the best job prospects.

Technologies such as video on demand and broadband Internet require high data transfer rates in telecommunications systems. Central office, PBX installers, and headend technicians will be needed to service and upgrade switches and routers to handle increased usage and volume, resulting in very good job opportunities.

However, station installers and repairers can expect strong competition for most positions. Prewired buildings, the reliability of existing telephone lines, and increasing wireless technology usage may reduce the need for general installation and maintenance work.

Employment projections data for Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

49-2022 217,200 225,700 4 8,400 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers except line installers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio and television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, movies and in office and school buildings.

See How to Become One $41,200
Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers

Computer, ATM, and Office Machine Repairers

Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers install, fix, and maintain many of the machines that businesses, households, and other consumers use.

Some college, no degree $36,620
Line installers and repairers

Line Installers and Repairers

Line installers and repairers (also known as line workers) install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics.

High school diploma or equivalent $58,210
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Except Line Installers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/telecommunications-equipment-installers-and-repairers-except-line-installers.htm (visited October 22, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014