Ever since Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first ever patent for the telephone in 1876, the telecommunications industry has been a huge part of our lives. This is one of the most exciting and constantly changing industries that you can work in.
The industry is in an endless state of flux and the range of career opportunities is huge. If you pursue a career in this area, you could be responsible for changing how people talk to each other in the future.
Could you survive without your mobile, your smartphone, your hamburger phone, your ‘Sports Illustrated Football Phone’, your local phone box or your parents’ home telephone? I didn’t think so!
The necessity of telecommunications in everyday life
We rely on telecommunications. The world would come to a halt without advanced telecommunications: international trade would be virtually impossible, you would never be able to arrange to meet your friends outside the student union and the transfer of information across the world would be significantly slower. Painfully slow, in fact.
Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on telegrams, smoke signals, Morse code and carrier pigeons. Telecommunications devices are some of the most useful, vital and exciting technologies in the world and the technological advances in this industry are only going to continue!
Just consider how far telephones have come since the original ‘hand-cranked’ models. The telephones we use at home and in the office are now highly complex bits of kit; they can be cordless, they have tons of different functions, like voicemail, hold and transfer, and you can instantly connect with people across the other side of the world at the push of a button.
Furthermore, consider how far the mobile phone has come in the last few decades. Since the huge brick-like contraptions of the 80s, which made all yuppies look like Dom Joly inTrigger Happy TV, mobiles have become multifunctional, versatile, small and lightweight, and are used by millions of people all day every day. The iPhone and other mobile devices now even allow people to use video chat functions, something which only ever seemed possible in 80s sci-fi movies, like Blade Runner and Back to the Future Part II.
This industry is not only about mobile phones and landline telephones though – the internet and satellite communications are now a huge part of the industry. The internet has changed the face of telecommunications forever. You can even speak to people directly over the internet now using programs like Skype. This revolution is also set to continue!
What are the responsibilities of telecommunications personnel?
Telecommunication devices rely on the hardware and networks that allow them to actually work. If you break into this area of the I.T. & Telecommunications sector, you’ll be responsible for researching, developing, designing, installing, testing and maintaining telecommunications equipment. You might also focus your efforts on putting essential security measures in place.
Understandably, the major employers in this industry are the big telecoms companies like BT, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens, Samsung, Blackberry, Apple, Ericsson and Nokia. However, all kinds of private companies and public sector organisations will hire telecommunications engineers, technicians and consultants to install, maintain and generally look after their telecommunications networks and hardware.
Engineers and technicians in this field have a broad range of responsibilities. If you pursue a career in this area, you’ll be working with telecommunications hardware, including handsets, fibre optic cables, routers and servers.
What are some specialisations within telecommunications?
The majority of engineers and technicians that specialise in telecommunications will focus their efforts on installation, testing and maintenance duties, making sure that an office or home’s telecommunication network is set up properly and functioning at an optimal level.
These guys need to develop a niche technical knowledge of telecommunications software, hardware and infrastructure, as they’ll be using technologies, such as DNS, BIG-IP, VOIP, SONET, and LANs and WANs on a daily basis.
You might become a second or third line support technician that specialises in telecommunications and network infrastructure. From here you could develop into a senior infrastructure or network engineer position. For more information on this line of work, check out the Networks and Technical Support subsectors now!
What does a telecommunications engineer do?
Some telecommunications engineers focus their efforts on the design and development of new telecommunications devices and network hardware. Here, you’ll be conducting research and then using your advanced knowledge of computer science, electrical engineering and telecommunications software to develop new solutions or adapt existing technologies.
Telecommunications engineers tend to be the most senior members of the team. In order to attain this level of responsibility earlier on in your career, it may be important to obtain a relevant undergraduate degree in a subject such as computer science or electrical engineering. You can break into a junior technician role via an apprenticeship scheme or with a relevant BTEC, NVQ or HND.
The telecommunications industry isn’t going anywhere fast – or rather it is, as it’s constantly progressing and expanding. If you’ve got the skills and you want to get involved in an ever-changing and exciting field, there may be a job opening with your name on it.