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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
With further education and training, engineering technicians can go on to register at Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng) level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Information on pathways to registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) can be found on the Engineering Council's website.
- 2% of people in occupations such as telecommunications technician work part-time.
- 16% have flexible hours.
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
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies
Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0845 6439001
City & Guilds
Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD
Tel: 020 7294 2468
The Tech Partnership
Skills for business and information technology
Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920
Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
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
Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Address: Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 313311
Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT)
Address: Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland Science Park, Queen's Road, Queen's Island, Belfast BT3 9DT
Tel: 028 9097 1700
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844