Telecoms Engineer Jobs and Careers
Telecoms is one of the most rapidly developing industry sectors in the world.
The profession of telecoms engineer, or communications engineer, has grown rapidly at the same time.
Encompassing the areas of programming, mobile communications, telecoms security and IP telephony, this sector of engineering is developing rapidly by the year.
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Telecoms engineers work in the Internet and computing industries, as well as networking and telecommunications. Radio is also part of the industry. There are two areas of the work:
- Technical engineers who are involved in designing, producing and advising on solutions.
- Managerial engineers, who are involved in planning projects and overseeing their implementation and delivery.
Telecoms Engineer Job Description
These engineers work with telecoms equipment, hardware and services. Activities can include some or all of the following:
- Solving problems, assessing situations and applying solutions, utilising ISDN, analogue, T1, T2, SONET and ATM.
- Handling disruptions of service.
- Producing solutions in advance to deal with problems as they arise in the field.
- Designing and creating telecommunications systems.
- Troubleshooting equipment and technical problems occurring in the field or arising through inspections.
- Installing and repairing telephone lines.
- Producing quality customer documentation and reports.
- Maintaining and updating equipment.
- Testing for faults and undertaking repairs as required.
- Working with customers to ascertain needs before building communication systems.
- Upgrading and integrating existing communication systems with computer networks.
- Supervising installation and training staff users in its use.
- Building and testing prototypes for new equipment.
Type of Person
The kind of person to do well as a communications engineer will have the following skills and qualities, depending on whether they are focusing on the technical or management side.
- An aptitude for technical subjects, as with all engineering disciplines. Technical knowledge must be matched by skills.
- Analytical and problem solving abilities, which can be utilised and applied in the field.
- Adaptability, as this is a fast-changing industry, coupled with the ability to learn new skills quickly.
- Project management skills, being a good organiser and co-ordinator.
- A strong understanding of networks and the physical infrastructures behind digital communications.
- The ability to work under pressure, frequently in the field in adverse conditions.
- A commercial awareness and understanding of business priorities.
- Strong communication skills, utilised when working with the public, other employees and users.
- The ability to work singly or within a team under supervision.
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Training for Telecoms Engineer Jobs
Telecoms engineers need to possess extensive knowledge and solid skills in circuitry, installation, government compliance and telecommunication systems. The latter includes voice, data, radio, fibre optics and waves.
Accredited Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) enable entry at technician level. These can also lead to degree courses or, with professional experience, the status of Incorporated Engineer (IEng).
A BEng degree is usually required in order to achieve this level of knowledge. Communications is usually a sub-discipline of electrical engineering degrees, along with power engineering, systems and control engineering, and signal processing. Spending a year working in industry during studies can make an enormous difference to employment prospects.
It's possible to continue to an accredited MEng postgraduate degree in telecommunications engineering. This provides specialist theoretical and practical knowledge in the different sectors of this industry, including Internet, mobile and wireless communications, data networks and programming and security for telecommunications. It's also possible to achieve a PhD and enter the profession at an expert level.
Upon graduating from an approved BEng programme, it's possible to commence employment while working towards chartered status (CEng).
Major telecoms companies, such as BT, offer engineering apprenticeships. Recognised by the Learning skills Council, these provide opportunity to work part-time and study part-time, earning a modest wage while working towards a NVQ 1, 2 or 3 qualification. There is, of course, employment at the end, although at a lower level to graduate entrants. Apprentices who complete can go into management, training or designing.
Hours and Salary for a Telecoms Engineer Job
The conditions can be tough for telecoms engineers, as they are often working outside in bad weather, which is when many problems occur. Otherwise, the situation varies, depending on the geographical location and types of networks being maintained.
Apprentices usually start on £10,000 a year, increasing to £12,000 after the first year, £14,000 and then £16,000 in years three and four. Apprentices can continue in employment to earn £21,000 a year after six years.
The range for qualified communications engineers is between £35,000 and £55,000 for senior chartered engineers.
Working hours are usually normal office hours, although engineers working outdoors may start earlier and finish by 4pm. There's often a need for flexible working and overtime is frequent at periods of high workload.
Telecoms Engineer Jobs Sites
- Telecoms jobs page, including engineers - www.telecommunicationjobs.co.uk
- Recruitment board - wireless-mobilejobs.com
- Information about careers with British Telecom - www.btplc.com/careercentre/