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

    Installing a network.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk in an office.  She is using a computer.  A man is standing next to her.  There are paper documents on the desk.

    Planning a job with a colleague.

  • A man is sitting at a table.  He is drawing a telecommunications network on a large sheet of paper.  There is a laptop computer next to him.

    Designing and mapping a telecommunications network.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Preparing a report about a recent engineering project.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a telephone.  He is looking at a computer screen.  There is also a small, laptop computer on the desk.

    Discussing project details with a client.

  • A woman is sitting at a table, looking through a magazine to keep up to date with industry developments.

    Keeping up to date with industry developments.

  • Two men are standing in a room.  They are holding some yellow cable equipment, and talking.

    Discussing network details with a colleague.

  • A man is crouching by a metal box with an open door.  He is using a hand-held electrical device, with wires leading into the metal box, to check that a network is working properly.

    Checking that a telecommunications network is working properly.

  • Telecommunications Engineer

Telecommunications Engineer

Introduction

Telecommunications engineers work on communications technology. They design, research and develop satellite and cable systems, mobile phones, radio waves, the internet and email. The world of telecommunications changes very quickly; it involves very sophisticated equipment and the latest technology.

Also known as

  • Communications Engineer
  • Engineer, Telecommunications

Work Activities

As a Telecommunications Engineer, you will research and develop innovative telecommunications products, as well as work on ways to improve existing technology, like fibre optic cables.

You provide solutions for businesses and private customers. For example, you may help a company to handle high volumes of telephone calls, perhaps by setting up or helping to improve a call centre. You may discuss using Computer Telephony Integration (CTI). This is the technique of co-ordinating the actions of telephones and computer systems, allowing for calls to be better managed, processed, monitored and tracked.

You also install video conferencing links in hospitals. This enables Surgeons to perform operations under the supervision of experts at another hospital, using the video-link to hear and see their colleagues.

You work on services such as mobile communication, high-speed data and fax transmission, and radio paging. You install the equipment needed for these types of communication. You may then provide training to customers once new equipment has been installed.

Telecommunications Engineers manage maintenance and repair programmes, making sure systems don't break down. You ensure new equipment meets government regulations.

Some Telecommunications Engineers travel around locally to make sure that all the sites of the network are working properly. You use computer software to see if any part of the network is 'weak' and therefore more likely to break down.

You may have to prepare reports on telecommunications-related problems or present research information on new ideas.

You work closely with sales and marketing departments. You may answer customer enquiries, and could be involved in selling networks to new clients.

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

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Telecommunications Engineer, you need:

  • to be willing to learn and develop new knowledge, as well as keep up to date with advances in areas such as satellite technology, computer science, electronic commerce, and mobile telephone networks
  • an investigative mind
  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • management and organisation skills to plan networks, eg, mapping cable networks
  • research, report writing and presentation skills
  • the ability to build up comprehensive product knowledge
  • persuasive sales skills
  • strong computer software skills because computers are increasingly used to control telecommunications systems
  • good communication skills, as you'll need to explain technical information to people who may come from non-technical backgrounds

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £28,500 - £29,500
  • With experience: £31,500 - £34,000
  • Senior Telecommunications Engineers earn £37,000 - £39,500

Hours of work

Most Telecommunications Engineers work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, early starts, late finishes and some weekend work may be required.

Where could I work?

Telecommunications Engineers work in research and development, as well as manufacturing and installation.

Employers include:

  • service providers who run the public telephone system
  • cable TV companies
  • cellular radio system providers
  • manufacturers of electronic communications products

Companies with complex telecommunication requirements may employ their own Telecommunications Engineers (for example, multinational oil companies).

Opportunities for Telecommunications Engineers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Find a Job 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

Telecommunications Engineers usually complete a relevant engineering degree, foundation degree or HND.

There are a number of specialist courses, with titles such as telecommunications engineering, electronic and communications engineering, and mobile telecommunications.

Many Telecommunications Engineers have backgrounds in electronic engineering, although entrants may also be graduates in other engineering disciplines.

Some entrants have backgrounds in computer science, mathematics or physics.

It's essential to check prospectuses carefully to make sure the course you choose is relevant to the branch of Engineering you want to follow.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Training

Some graduates join graduate training schemes, which offer structured training and learning.

Depending on their level of entry, Telecommunications Engineers can gain Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng) professional status. Both are highly regarded by employers throughout industry.

To register as a CEng or an IEng, you must join a relevant, professional Engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council.

To become a CEng or an IEng, you need to demonstrate the appropriate competence and commitment. The standards for this are set out in the Engineering Council's UK-SPEC document, which can be downloaded from their website.

Work Experience

Previous experience within an Engineering position (such as an electrical and mechanical) would be useful for this career.

Experience using computer aided design would also be really helpful to get into this career.

If you would like more information, Tomorrow’s Engineers have lots of information on education, training and case studies to look at. This could give you more experience on what happens in Engineering jobs and see if it is the right career for you.

Progression

Depending on their qualification, Telecommunications Engineers can progress by taking on more responsibility for the management of engineering projects and teams of Telecommunications Engineers.

Some choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.

Qualifications

To enter a degree course in telecommunications engineering, the usual academic requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C/4 or above
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
  • maths and a science or technology subject, eg, physics or electronics, are normally required at A level
  • English, maths and a science subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C/4 or above.

Other qualifications, such as a relevant BTEC level 3 qualification or the International Baccalaureate Diploma are often accepted.

Check prospectuses carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

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.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Engineering) could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Distance learning

Aston University offers an MSc in Telecommunications Technology, via distance learning.

Queen Mary, University of London offers an MSc in Telecommunications, via distance learning.

Training

Information on pathways to registration as a Chartered (CEng) or Incorporated (IEng) Engineer can be found on the Engineering Council's website.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship for the higher education study of telecommunications engineering is available from the larger engineering and manufacturing companies.

Funding

Funding for postgraduate study is available through universities from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Statistics

  • 12% of people in occupations such as telecommunications engineer are self-employed.
  • 21% have flexible hours.
  • 3% of employees work on a temporary basis.

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.

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

The Engineer

Engineering technology news

Email: customerservices@theengineer.co.uk

Website: www.theengineer.co.uk

Tomorrow's Engineers

Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering

Email: contactus@tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Website: www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

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

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP

Tel: 01923 260000

Email: ecitb@ecitb.org.uk

Website: careers.ecitb.org.uk

Engineer Jobs

Publisher: Venture Marketing Group

Email: ner@vmgl.com

Website: www.engineerjobs.co.uk

Getting into Engineering Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman

Website: www.mpw.ac.uk/university-guides/getting-into/engineering-courses/

Scottish Engineering

Scottish enquiries

Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL

Tel: 0141 2213181

Email: consult@scottishengineering.org.uk

Website: www.scottishengineering.org.uk

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

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Address: Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1ET

Tel: 01793 444000

Website: www.epsrc.ac.uk

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

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