Modern Careers: Why You Should Become a Telephone Technician
So you want to become a telephone technician, do you? While many people mistakenly believe this is an old, dead, profession, the reality is that the modern telephone technician is a high-tech engineer responsible for installation of complex PBX phone systems. They make good money too, but not without extensive education and training. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
A telephone service tech’s job is primarily the installation and maintenance of phone systems and networks. As a technician, your job usually consists of driving out to customers’ businesses or individuals’ homes, installing drop lines, maintaining crossover boxes, and installing and maintaining switchboard systems.
You may also be responsible for installing new lines inside the home or an office and connecting it to the main company line outside.
To work in this industry, you need some education, but the requirements often vary from employer to employer. Some employers require their workers get special certifications in electronics. Others require only a high school diploma and the employer then provides on-the-job training. Almost all employers will require you to pass a mechanical-dexterity and ability test. This test will assess your ability to work in a variety of environments, use your hands effectively, and complete work with a minimum amount of efficacy and within a specific tolerance.
You must have good eyesight and you absolutely cannot be color-blind. Degrees may be 2 years, with more advanced degrees being 4 years, but this is rare. Mostly, you can complete basic on-the-job training within a few months, though it may take up to a year or more to master advanced skillsets.
You will also need company-specific education concerning internal infrastructure design. Typically, this kind of education is provided by the company when you’re hired. Most companies will either send you to special training and educational “bootcamps” or they will train you on-site.
Training consists of line installation and maintenance, installation of terminal boxes, installation of interior lines and connections, and maintenance of whole phone systems. It’s typical for the company to assign you a senior technician that you shadow for a period of time. Once you learn the basics of the job, you’re left on your own.
What is hosted PBX? Companies, like Broad Connect Telecom, that offer hosted PBX services to businesses, sometimes require additional training over and above normal telephone line installation. That’s because PBX, both traditional and virtual hosted systems, are complex telephone systems that must handle multiple incoming phone calls, route them to the proper extension or directory, and provide advanced prompts for prospects and clients.
These systems also often require ongoing IT maintenance, and you may be required to work with the IT team within the company to help sort out issues as they arise or perform periodic maintenance on the phone system.
The Salary and Benefits
Now for the money – everyone loves getting paid, and PBX technicians make some of the highest salaries in the country, depending on where you live. It’s true that if you’re an entry-level technician, the pay isn’t all that great, just $20,000 or perhaps a little more. But, if you’re doing complex installs in Boston, for example, you can easily earn $70,000 or more annually.
Chicago is another great place to work, with salaries averaging $60,000 for technicians. Atlanta and Dallas both have some of the lowest-paying salaries in the phone technician industry, coming in at $56,000 and $44,000, respectively.
Benefits depend on the company, but generally include health insurance and retirement packages (a 401(k)).
The Future Of The Profession
While employment opportunities throughout 2014 are expected to decline, the long-term outlook for the profession is good, given that traditional phone systems are giving way to VoIP systems, virtual PBX, on-demand video, and upgraded fiber optic networks.
For example, Google Fiber is an up and coming fiber optics division of tech giant Google. As the company expands its operations, it will need technicians to build and maintain its infrastructure. It’s jobs like these that will propel the industry forward.
Also, maintenance on fiber optics and modules powering these infrastructures will mean more jobs for technicians that can work outside in the field on commercial properties. Unfortunately, for the technician looking to do basic installs, the market is slimming down.
Prewired buildings are everywhere nowadays, and the future of the profession is moving toward higher-end services. Fortunately this all means more training and of course higher pay.
As the Social Media Marketing Director at BroadConnect Telecom, Jason Stephen Ali is at the forefront of the latest tech and breaking developments in VoIP, SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX Technologies. Jason avidly spreads BroadConnects breaking news and creates valuable business to business connections across the net. He is known by his peers as a mobile tech aficionado; and That Guy who regularly carries around 4 mobile phones.