Telecommunications researchers are responsible for carrying out vital research and development work across all aspects of the telecommunications industry. These guys are integral to the development of new technologies. Without them, we wouldn’t have satellites, super-fast broadband, wireless routers, advanced VOIP systems or smartphones.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be tasked with collecting raw data and interpreting it using mathematical, analytical and statistical tools and techniques. Furthermore, you’ll be preparing research reports for publication, presenting your research findings to your peers and keeping up to date on the latest inventions and developments in the telecoms industry.
Some telecommunications researchers are employed by commercial companies like BT, Orange and Siemens, while others work in an academic capacity.
Salary & benefits
Salaries for junior academic researchers range between £12,000 and £20,000 per annum, while senior academics can earn between £20,000 and £50,000 a year.
Telecom researchers engaged in commercial research and development will receive higher salaries, with entry-level employees earning around £20,000 to £30,000 and researchers with over five years’ experience earning up to £60,000.
Work is mainly lab-based and tends to involve being on duty for around eight to ten hours on a daily basis. Weekend or holiday work may be required from time to time, especially when research deadlines are looming.
If you work in an academic environment, you might be required to travel around from time to time to attend research events and conferences.
While an undergraduate degree in telecommunications engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, computer science, I.T. or another quantitative subject, such as mathematics or statistics, is the basic requirement for employment in the commercial sector, academic researchers will also need to have a relevant postgraduate qualification for entry-level positions.
Training & progression
Commercial companies often train telecommunications researchers through structured programmes or mentoring schemes, where senior professionals supervise junior employees as they gain experience ‘on-the-job’. Some academic institutions may also support researchers through the completion of relevant PhD courses.
Career progression is dependent on specialist expertise, overall experience and academic background. Researchers working in academia may take on term-based contracts in specific research areas or begin teaching roles.
Commercial telecom researchers, on the other hand, can move into project and programme management, training and development, or take up specialist research roles, i.e. focusing on digital media or satellite communications.