Telecommunications technicians are at the forefront of the technology that billions of consumers enjoy worldwide for television and radio programming, entertainment, electronic security, and Internet and telephone communications. By planning and working in the field to install miles of fiber optic cables, telephone wires, networks, electrical and communication components; telecommunications line installers ensure that people stay connected and enjoy the wide range of entertainment sources available today.
Telecommunications line installers also work to install the various lines that go into new or redesigned buildings to bring Internet and telephone connectivity to workers. In addition, these specialized technicians troubleshoot and make repairs to existing telecommunications lines whenever needed.
- Despite not requiring secondary education, telecommunications line installers and repairers earn higher than average wages.
- An aging-retiring workforce coupled with new technology is creating many more job opportunities in telecommunications.
- Work for telecommunications line installers and repairers requires mostly outdoors and under building and construction conditions.
- Positions as telecommunications line installers require several years of on-the-job training for most technicians.
- Line worker jobs are among the most dangerous jobs in the telecommunications and service industries due to electric shock.
Work Environment for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers
Many telecommunications line installers and repairers work 40 hour weeks, with a bulk of those hours worked in the afternoons, evenings and weekends to meet with customer demands. In addition, telecommunication line workers can be asked to be on call to handle emergency repairs when needed. The working environment can range from being inside newly constructed buildings or buildings that are undergoing renovations, to outside high above the ground in lifts, harnesses and on ladders stringing wires, lines and installing satellite dishes on the exterior of buildings and utility poles. The work is very physically demanding and requires excellent balance, coordination, manual dexterity and vision in addition to solid written and verbal communication skills.
Education, Training and Licensing
Generally, candidates interested in becoming employed as telecommunications line installers and repairers must have earned at least a high school diploma or a general education degree (GED). High school students should concentrate on courses such as algebra, trigonometry, earth science, electronics, computers and technology science to have a well-rounded understanding that will prepare them for work as telecommunications line workers.
Telecommunications technicians often go on for further education through two-year degree programs offered by a technical college. In addition, vocational or military training can include various training for hopeful telecommunications line installers and repairers. Having this knowledge is helpful, but not mandatory.
Usually, telecommunications line installers and repairers who work for cable television and telephone companies will receive one to five years of intense training on the job, working beside more experienced line workers. They will learn various work and safety techniques which will enable them to perform the work according to industry standards. Line workers who wish to stay on top of new technology and advance in their careers can also go on for further training and courses as provided by equipment vendors, unions or industry training sources.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Telecommunications line repairers and installers held a massive 162,400 jobs in the U.S., according to the most recent research published in May 2009 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS expects employment in this field to grow 1.9% from 2008 to 2018, which is slower than the average for all occupations. An aging workforce is slowly increasing the number of retirees, which will open up more jobs going into the next decade for college students and new high school graduates with an interest in telecommunications. However, the appeal of the work that line installers and repairers do is limited by the high level of physical risk associated with the work.
BLS reports indicate that the average annual wage for telecommunications line installers and repairers was $48,310 USD as of May 2009. While the lowest 10% of telecommunication line workers earned an annual income at or below $26,520 (most likely for part time workers), the top 10% earned a staggering $70,230 per year.