What You'll Do
By Jennifer Wegerer
A specialty within electrical engineering and closely linked to broadcast engineering, telecommunications engineering involves the design of specialized computer and electronics equipment for use in a telecommunications network or infrastructure. These include cellular telephone networks, broadband systems and other cutting-edge technologies.
Along with designing intricate telephone and high speed data systems, telecommunications engineers often oversee the installation of telecommunications equipment and are responsible for coming up with creative, cost-effective solutions to telecommunications problems. Their in-depth training in modern-day telecommunications technology and engineering equips them with the expertise and problem-solving skills to successfully achieve this goal.
Playing a key role in building a communications infrastructure for a global economy, telecommunications engineers enjoy job opportunities in a number of industries. They work in wired and wireless communications companies, engineering consulting or design firms, electronics components manufacturers, and government agencies.
The Future of Telecommunications Engineering
The telecommunications industry seems to invent a new technology every day. From cell phones to smart phones to ever-improving broadband communications, telecommunications engineers have been integral to driving the world into the twenty-first century.
In that regard, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reports that the FCC has released a comprehensive plan to increase broadband accessibility and speed to consumers in rural areas of the U.S., which, in turn, will encourage economic opportunities and job growth. Manufacturers, construction and telecommunication services will benefit from the expansion of the country's broadband infrastructure as will rural entrepreneurs and businesses interested in expanding their market base.
Schools & Degrees
Telecommunications engineers utilize a diverse skill set in developing telephone and high speed data services. Their education typically involves a broad array of engineering training, including electronics, civil, structural and electrical, along with fundamental business courses and project management.
Typically, telecommunications engineers hold bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and enter their field in an apprentice-type role, gaining practical experience working closely with a senior-level telecommunications engineer. Students interested in obtaining a master's degree can pursue advanced training in electrical or telecommunications engineering.
Telecommunications engineers are part of the larger field of electrical engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for electrical engineers is $94,210, while electronics engineers earned $99,210. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.