How to become a Telecommunications Engineer

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Steps to becoming a telecommunications engineer

With “5G” standards in the works and an estimated 20.8 billion connected “internet of things” devices in use by 2020, telecommunications engineers have never been needed more. Now that we know what telecommunications engineering is, it is time to find out how to become one.

Going to college is a requirement for many jobs, and certainly opens up doors within telecommunications engineering. And because the discipline covers so much ground, workers in the field usually come out of a number of broader degree programs. According to Academic Invest, following are some of the programs usually associated with jobs in telecom engineering:

  • Computer science;
  • Database engineering;
  • Electronic and communication engineering;
  • Electronic engineering;
  • Information technology;
  • Mathematics;
  • Physics; and
  • Telecommunications.

That wide range of speciality knowledge shows just how important it is for businesses in the telecom industry to employ engineers who work on both the hardware and software sides of things. Some universities have their own telecommunications engineering programs; for example, the University of Sydney offers a program in this discipline within its electrical engineering degree, and The University of Texas at Dallas offers a bachelor of science in telecommunications engineering.

telecommunications engineer2

Source: The University of Texas at Dallas

It is important to note that telecommunications engineering does not require a postgraduate degree, although it could help your status in the future. The profession may, however, require licenses or certificates, and some employers may require a Professional Engineer designation.

The steps to receiving a PE designation are:

  • Earn a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited engineering program;
  • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam;
  • Complete four years of progressive engineering experience under a PE; and
  • Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Whether that designation is needed or not, being a “professional engineer” could offer the potential of more opportunity and income in the future.

What will you be doing?

In the Industrial IoT 5G article “What is Telecommunications Engineering,” we went over what telecommunications engineering is, and what an engineer might do in the discipline. There are several more duties for the job, provided by Academic Invest:

  • Carry out site surveys;
  • Provide technical guidance to colleagues and customers;
  • Find creative solutions to problems identified in network designs;
  • Analyze and interpret data;
  • Travel to meet suppliers, customers and colleagues; and
  • Test designs.

These job requirements show a successful telecom engineer  is analytical with strong mathematics knowledge, a problem solver and an effective communicator.

In what sectors might you be working?

Telecom engineers are needed in just about every industry, thanks to increased reliance on the internet and the ability to communicate in a globalized economy. Here are some specific companies and areas in which telecommunication engineers find themselves working, according to the University of Sydney:

  • Telecom providers such as Telstra, Optus Unwired, Vodafone, AAPT and vendors like Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, NEC;
  • Computer companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Google;
  • Telecom security, standards and regulations;
  • Network management;
  • Telecom research and application of that research in CSIRO, NICTA and universities;
  • Multimedia and information technology companies;
  • Design of equipment and telecom devices; and
  • Military and defense applications.

The payoff

Telecommunications engineering is no exception to the potentially high annual income of engineering professionals.

Payscale provides specific statistics on income for telecommunications engineers based on their years of experience.

telecommunications

Source: PayScale

The median salary level for Americans working in the related electrical and electronics engineers group, as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $95,230 per year, according to the bureau’s 2015 statistics.Computer architects earn $100,240 per year, and the profession has a projected 9% job growth between 2014 and 2024.

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