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Job Photographs

  • A woman is standing, writing on a whiteboard.

    Before a telecommunications technician begins their work, they need to check which jobs need doing that day.

  • A man is standing by a long desk.  He is fitting a network cable into some equipment on the desk.

    Installing telecommunications equipment.

  • A man is looking into a box full of different-coloured wires, on a wall above him.  He is holding a telephone to his ear, with a cable leading into the box, to test that equipment is working properly.

    Testing equipment to make sure it works properly.

  • A man is driving a white van.

    Telecommunications technicians are often responsible for making repairs within a particular geographical area or 'patch'.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, repairing the inside of a computer.

    Repairing faulty equipment for a customer.

  • A man, wearing a yellow, high-visibility jacket and a hard hat, is drilling into a brick wall.

    Telecommunications technicians need to make sure they follow health and safety procedures during their work.

  • A man is loading a yellow ladder into the back of a van.  There are also lots of boxes in the van.

    Loading a van with tools and equipment to go out and fix a network fault at a customer's premises.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, speaking on a telephone.  There is a folder on the desk, a sheet of paper and a calculator.  There are some filing cabinets behind her.

    Giving advice to a customer who has a problem with their computer network system.

Telecommunications Technician

Introduction

Telecommunications technicians install, test and repair communications technology. They work on cable television and telephone systems, radio networks, satellite systems and mobile telephone networks.

Also known as

  • Communications Technician
  • Phone Technician
  • Telephone Technician

Video: - Jags: Telecommunications Technician

Video: - Alison: Apprentice Service Technician

Work Activities

Telecommunications technicians install, test and repair communications technology.

Some telecommunications technicians travel around locally in a van, responding to customers' phone calls to report faults. These technicians are likely to be responsible for a particular geographical area or 'patch'.

They begin the day in a workshop or control centre, checking the jobs they have to do that day. They then load their van with all the necessary tools and equipment, and travel to the customers' premises to attend to the faults.

Once at the customer's home or office, they try to cause them as little disruption as possible. Sometimes telecommunications technicians can repair equipment on-site. Otherwise, they bring it back to a workshop for further testing and repair.

Other telecommunications technicians install communication systems at customers' homes and business premises. It can sometimes takes weeks or even months to install a completely new system. They also provide customers with help over the telephone.

As well as telephones, the systems installed could include fax machines and cabling for computer networks. When installing telecommunications systems, they may lay cables, and connect and test the equipment to the customer's satisfaction. They might also work with highly technical equipment, such as satellite or digital television.

At a telephone exchange (or switching centre), telecommunications technicians investigate faulty lines and connect new customers to the service.

Some telecommunications technicians work for equipment manufacturers, helping to design, develop, test and install the equipment.

Work might take place outdoors, for example, laying and connecting cables in the road. Some tasks might involve working at a height, such as fixing wire on telegraph poles.

Most jobs involve bending, climbing, standing, lifting and carrying. Telecommunications technicians may need to wear protective clothing such as safety helmets. Work might take place in all types of weather.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a telecommunications technician, you need:

  • Strong technical skills and knowledge.
  • The ability to solve problems through a logical, methodical approach.
  • The patience to trace a fault and try different ways to make repairs.
  • To pay attention to detail.
  • A knowledge of health and safety issues.
  • Manual dexterity to control and adjust hand tools and meters, and to connect wires and small parts.
  • Good computer skills.
  • To be willing to learn and develop new knowledge, as well as keep up to date with advances in areas like cable and digital television, telephone systems and satellite technology.
  • Good number skills, to use meters and make calculations.
  • To be physically fit to cope with lifting, bending and carrying.
  • To be able to work at heights or underground.
  • The ability to work quickly and reliably without supervision.
  • To work well in a team.
  • Good communication skills to explain faults to customers, as well as have a calm and professional manner.

Your colour vision may be tested for working with colour-coded wiring and parts.

Many telecommunications technicians need a full, clean driving licence.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Salaries for telecommunications technicians vary depending on the company, role and level of responsibility.

The pay rates given below are approximate.

Telecommunications technicians earn in the range of £21,500 - £25,000 a year, rising to £29,500 - £35,000. Higher earners can make around £40,000 a year.

Hours of work

Most telecommunications technicians work around 37.5-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Early starts, late finishes, and some weekend work may be required. You may have to work shifts.

What's happening in this work area?

Demand for telecommunications technicians has grown, as the number of independent operators has increased.

The sector was hard hit by the recent recession, but it has recovered slightly.

However, cutbacks in public expenditure in areas such as defence will reduce growth rates.

It suffers from a shortage of high-skilled personnel, and also a shortage of women, with around 3 in 4 jobs being taken by men. As a result, men are expected to bear the brunt of expected fall in employment.

Full time employees are also expected to suffer the main job losses.

Part-time employment is increasing in importance

Where could I work?

Employers include British Telecom (BT), Kcom, Orange, Vodaphone, T-Mobile and Virgin Media. Some telecommunications technicians work for equipment manufacturers.

Opportunities for telecommunications technicians occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Some telecommunications technicians work independently as self-employed workers under contract for telecoms companies. Others set up retail businesses supplying telephone equipment to domestic and commercial customers.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.

Vacancies can also be found through specialist engineering recruitment agencies, internet job boards and the websites of professional engineering bodies and telecommunications organisations.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

One way to enter this career is by doing an apprenticeship scheme.

Relevant Intermediate Level and Advanced Level Apprenticeships are available and may be offered in your area.

You may also be able to enter employment as a trainee, receiving day- or block-release to go to college part-time.

Another entry route is to take a full-time college course, leading to a relevant City & Guilds qualification, A level or Edexcel (BTEC) National qualification (eg, Engineering), before looking for employment.

Training

It's possible to work towards a relevant work-based qualification, eg, Communication Technologies (available at levels 2 to 4).

Professional registration - known as EngTech - is available for those who have joined a professional engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council.

You also need to complete a relevant Advanced Apprenticeship; or hold a qualification such as the Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Engineering or Construction and the Built Environment, alongside relevant experience.

You can apply if you don't have a qualification, but you need to have substantial work experience.

Full details on how to register as an EngTech are available in the Engineering Council's UK-SPEC document, which can be viewed on their website.

Progression

With further education and training, engineering technicians can go on to register at Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng) level.

Qualifications

There are no formal entry requirements for this career. However, many employers or training providers prefer applicants to have at least 4 GCSEs, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Training providers may ask you to take an aptitude test.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

The telecommunications industry is growing rapidly. There is a skills shortage and many employers have turned to those with relevant skills.

In particular, people who have skills from similar posts in the armed forces have been welcomed. Experience, and craft or technical qualifications in electronic engineering are an advantage.

Courses

London South Bank University offers an HNC and HND in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, via part-time evening study.

London College UCK offers an HNC and HND in Electronic/Electrical Engineering, via distance learning.

Training

Information on pathways to registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) can be found on the Engineering Council's website.

Statistics

  • 2% of people in occupations such as telecommunications technician work part-time.
  • 16% have flexible hours.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

Semta

Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies

Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT

Tel: 0845 6439001

Email: customerservices@semta.org.uk

Website: www.semta.org.uk

City & Guilds

Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD

Tel: 020 7294 2468

Email: learnersupport@cityandguilds.com

Website: www.cityandguilds.com

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500

Website: www.engc.org.uk

Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Sketrick House, Ards Business Park, Jubilee Road, Newtownards BT23 4YH

Tel: 028 9182 2377

Email: info@etcni.org.uk

Website: www.etcni.org.uk

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

Address: Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY

Tel: 01438 313311

Email: postmaster@theiet.org

Website: www.theiet.org

Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT)

Irish enquiries

Address: Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland Science Park, Queen's Road, Queen's Island, Belfast BT3 9DT

Tel: 028 9097 1700

Email: info@ecit.qub.ac.uk

Website: www.ecit.qub.ac.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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