How to Become a Telecommunications Technician
Postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computer networking is typically needed to become a telecom technician.
Telecommunications technicians typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a certificate or associate’s degree. These workers also receive on-the-job training.
Telecommunications technicians typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers of telecommunications equipment installers and repairers and radio, cellular, and tower equipment installers and repairers may prefer to hire candidates who have some postsecondary education in electronics, telecommunications, or computer networking. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have an associate’s degree.
Community colleges and technical schools offer courses in subjects such as data transmission systems, data communication, AC/DC electrical circuits, and computer programming. These courses typically are included in programs that lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree in telecommunications or related subjects.
Once hired, telecommunications technicians typically receive on-the-job training that lasts from several months to several years. Training involves a combination of formal instruction and hands-on work with an experienced technician. In these settings, workers learn about the equipment’s internal parts and the tools needed for repair.
Training length and topics vary by position and employer. For example, central office technicians typically receive electrical training. Telecommunications line installers and repairers who work for telecommunications companies may benefit from additional training provided by equipment manufacturers, schools, unions, or industry organizations. Radio, cellular, and tower equipment installers and repairers typically learn subjects such as tower climbing and rescue, electrical skills and concepts, and radio frequency fundamentals.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Manufacturer or employer-provided certification may be helpful for some telecom technicians. For example, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers offers the Broadband Telecom Center Specialist (BTCS) certification, and the Fiber Optic Association offers multiple fiber optic certifications for telecommunications line installers and repairers.
Telecom technicians may need a driver’s license to travel to jobsites, and workers who drive heavy vehicles usually need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Some employers prefer or require that candidates have certification in first aid or in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Ability to work at heights. Telecom technicians must be comfortable working at heights on lifts, telecommunications towers, and other elevated surfaces.
Color vision. Telecom technicians work with color-coded wires, and they must be able to tell them apart.
Customer-service skills. Telecom technicians who work in customers’ homes and offices should be friendly and polite. They must be able to explain to customers about maintaining and operating communications equipment.
Dexterity. Telecom technicians’ tasks, such as connecting components and using handtools, require good hand–eye coordination to avoid injuring themselves and damaging materials.
Mechanical skills. Telecom technicians must be familiar with the devices they work on and with the tools they need to install or fix those devices. They must also be able to understand manufacturers’ instructions when installing or repairing equipment.
Physical stamina. Telecom technicians must be able to climb ladders or towers with heavy tools or equipment, work on their feet for extended periods, and dig trenches for telecommunications cables.
Physical strength. Telecom technicians must be able to lift heavy tools, cables, and equipment on a regular basis.
Problem-solving skills. Telecom technicians must be able to troubleshoot and devise solutions to problems that arise when installing or repairing equipment or devices.