Telecommunications

Telecommunications includes any type of technology that transmits information and data over distances. This includes voice (such as via telephone), television, video and Internet. These devices and services are much more sophisticated than the early days of smoke signals, telegraphs, beacons and Morse code. The changes in technology that have occurred since the early days of long distance communication allow people from all over the world to communicate with each other as often as they want without the need to travel. Telecommunications serves as the main vehicle of communication for businesses and households.

Telecommunications is composed of four main areas: satellite, wired, wireless and other. Wired telecommunications accounts for the largest area of the telecommunications industry. This includes landline telephones, Internet and cable television services. Wired telecommunications works by routing information over networks of cables and wires. Wireless communications includes cell phones and some forms of Internet. These products work by transmitting signals through radio towers. These signals pass through an antenna on to the consumers, who use computers and cell phones to receive and interpret the data. Satellite communications primarily involves private and government organizations. Data, such as pictures of the earth and communication to public safety officials, is transmitted via satellite. Other areas within telecommunications include communication service operators and telecommunications resellers.

Telecommunications is always changing. Faster speeds and increased Internet access are top priorities for many customers. In order to stay afloat in a highly competitive market, telecommunications companies work hard to increase their data transmission abilities. Increases in bandwidth allow customers to view large files, surf the Internet faster and play videos. Bandwidth is increased by using fiber optic cables instead of copper ones. Fiber optic cable has many advantages, such as higher capacities and faster speeds.

There are a variety of job opportunities in the telecommunications field. However, more than half of telecommunications workers are employed in the areas of maintenance, repair, installation or administrative support. Although most employees work a normal 40-hour week, some may have to work 50 hours or more, especially in times of emergency. When hurricanes or floods hit, networks often shut down and need to be restored quickly with the help of those skilled in repair and maintenance. Therefore, overtime, weekend and evening hours may be required.

Telecommunications workers who specialize in installation, repair and/or maintenance may be called upon to work indoors or outdoors in all types of weather conditions. The work can be very physical, as they lift, reach, climb, crouch and crawl. It can also be dangerous, so proper safety equipment is required at all times.

In 2008, the telecommunications field accounted for one million US jobs. Although telecommunications jobs can be found in all parts of the country, larger cities tend to employ more workers and present better job opportunities. Education and experience required depend on the job. Some may require only a high school education. Some may require on-the-job training. Some may require several years of education at a trade school. Others, such as professional, managerial and engineering careers, often require at least a bachelor's degree. Because technology and services change often and quickly, workers in the telecommunications field must stay abreast of new developments in the field. Therefore, training never ends. Some employers even look for specific skills in prospective employees, such as software design, computer programming, fiber optic technology, data compression, wireless technology and voice telephone technology.

Although the telecommunications field is rapidly changing, job opportunities are expected to decline in the future. This is because of the reliability of fiber optic cables. They are very strong and reliable, meaning they require less maintenance and repair. This will result in less need for those employees in the maintenance and repair field. However, customer service positions are expected to see an increased need to accommodate more customers. Those who are fortunate to get a job in the telecommunications industry enjoy high pay and many benefits. The average telecommunications worker salary is much higher than the salary of an employee in private industry.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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