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Telecommunications Engineer


Description

Telecommunications engineers have made our once vast world into a tiny, communicating global village. The fact that one can surf the Internet, chat with someone in India and buy a tapestry online from Turkey, all with the click of a mouse button would have baffled the minds of an average person only a few years ago! Telecommunications engineers are in the process of eliminating media of communication and physical activities, such as the telephone or going out to the mall . . . Why go to the grocery store when you can shop online for your milk and have it delivered to your house? We hardly need to speak with human beings anymore but if we must use the phone, it will probably be a cellular phone. Is there anyone without a cell phone these days?

Stop for a moment and think about the communications gadgets and machines in your home like your cell phone or DVD player. It is easy to take these luxuries for granted yet hard to imagine life without them. Thank heavens for telecommunications engineers and their amazing creations. Telecommunications engineers create the connections that allow people to communicate with each other over distances. Terms like "wireless communication" are now becoming commonplace as the world is turning into a high-speed place. Telecommunications engineers both improve already existing communications material and create new functions. The duties and responsibilities of telecommunications engineers often overlap with the electronics and electrical engineering field.

Many telecommunications engineers specialize in a particular area once they become established, including local area networks (LAN), cellular phones, satellite communications, or lasers. Advances in communications have obviously had a dramatic impact on all industries. In recent years, communications or telecommunications instruments such as high-speed Internet modems, laptop computers, personal digital assistants and fiber optics are booming industries and there is room to accommodate many job seekers.

Telecommunications engineers meet with manufacturers, lawyers, scientists and clients and constantly check that design plans are safe and will withstand a number of conditional variables. Safety is one of the most important issues that they must contend with. They create engineering plans on computers that test and predict possible errors and problems and in this, they generate workable solutions. Although most work takes place on the computer, most telecommunications engineers travel to factories or plants to see their work in progress.

Telecommunications engineers use traditional and high-tech tools, such as computer-aided design (CAD) systems to create realistic geometric models of objects which can simulate and analyze the effects and potential problems of designs. CAD models are eliminating the need for hand drawn models. They research and evaluate the most cost-effective solutions to problems while still maintaining recognized standards. They are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Telecommunications engineers should have a natural curiosity and affinity for electronics, mechanics, marketing, mathematics and science. Since imprecise calculations could cause major disasters and expensive mistakes, they must be 100 percent accurate in their calculations. Their jobs are extremely technical therefore they should be organized and methodical in their working habits. They must be good problem solvers and be able to come up with innovative and creative solutions to potential problems and design work.

They must also be personal and have strong communication skills. Telecommunications engineers constantly deal with people from both sides of the professional spectrum therefore they must be able to communicate ideas and give orders in a clear, concise fashion.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research into the feasibility, design, operation and performance of telecommunications networks and electronic communications, instrumentation and control systems
  • Prepare material cost and timing estimates, reports and design specifications for communications systems and equipment
  • Design electrical and electronic circuits, components, systems and equipment
  • Supervise and inspect the installation, modification, testing and operation of telecommunications equipment
  • Develop maintenance and operating standards for telecommunications equipment
  • Investigate electrical or electronic failures and troubleshoot existing systems
  • Develop specialized applications and system software
  • Prepare contract documents and evaluate tenders for construction or maintenance
  • Supervise technicians, technologists, programmers, analysts and other engineers.
  • Telecommunications engineers generally work in an office environment designing on computers and working with clients, but they may sometimes travel to manufacturing facilities or to meet with clients. They must do a considerable amount of reading and research to keep up-to-date with new technological developments. Overtime may be required to meet design deadlines, which is commonplace.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Telecommunications engineers work in both the private and public sectors. They are usually employed by government communications agencies, high-tech Internet or telecommunications companies, electrical utilities companies, manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment, consulting firms and by a wide range of manufacturing, processing and transportation industries.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Since telecommunications engineers have such extensive training and knowledge in electrical products, advancement potentials range from computer applications and microelectronics to the design of extra-high-voltage facilities. They would also be great marketing representatives or sales people for these types of products (who better to sell a product than its designer?). Those with experience may become senior managers or supervisors of junior engineers. Some combine their engineering degrees with other graduate degrees such as business, law or medicine and move towards that specialty area. Finally there are many jobs in high-tech companies looking for telecommunications engineers.
 

  Educational Paths  
While still in high school, if this is the career path you are interested in taking, make sure you take courses in mathematics and physics. Most university and college programs will require these subject areas as prerequisites.

Telecommunications engineers require a bachelor's degree in electrical or electronics engineering or in a related engineering field. Then, they must also become registered as a professional engineer (PEng) within an association of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. Some engineers also get master's degrees in their specific area, or in related fields such as business (MBA).
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

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