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How to become a telecommunications engineer

Steps to becoming a telecommunications engineer

With 5G standards in the works and an estimated 20.8 billion connected IoT devices in use by 2020, telecommunications engineers have never been needed more. Now that you know what telecommunications engineering is, it is time to find out how to become one.

Going to college is a requirement for many jobs, and certainly opens up doors within telecommunications engineering. And because the discipline covers so much ground, workers in the field usually come out of a number of broader degree programs. Here are some of the programs usually associated with jobs in telecom engineering, according to Academic Invest:

  • Computer science
  • Database engineering
  • Electronic and communication engineering
  • Electronic engineering
  • Information technology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Telecommunications

That wide range of speciality knowledge shows just how important it is for businesses in the telecom industry to employ engineers that work on both the hardware and software side of things. Some universities have their own telecommunications engineering programs. For example, the University of Sydney offers a program in this discipline within its electrical engineering degree, and the University of Texas at Dallas offers a bachelor of science in telecommunications engineering.

telecommunications engineer2
The University of Texas at Dallas

It is important to note that telecommunications engineering does not require a postgraduate degree, though it could help your status in the future. The profession may, however, require licenses or certificates, and some employers may require a Professional Engineer (PE) designation. Here are the steps to receiving a PE license:

  • Earn a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited engineering program;
  • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam;
  • Complete four years of progressive engineering experience under a PE;
  • Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

Whether that designation is needed or not, being a “professional engineer” could potentially bring on more opportunity and income in the future.

What will you be doing?

In the Industrial IoT 5G article “What is Telecommunications Engineering,” we went over what telecommunications engineering is, and what an engineer might do in the discipline. Here are several more duties for the job, provided by Academic Invest:

  • Carrying out site surveys;
  • Providing technical guidance to colleagues and customers;
  • Find creative solutions to problems identified in network designs;
  • Analyze and interpret data;
  • Travel to meet suppliers, customers and colleagues;
  • Test designs.

These job requirements show a successful telecom engineer  is analytical with strong mathematics knowledge, a problem solver and an effective communicator.

In what sectors might you be working?

Telecom engineers are needed in just about every industry thanks to increased reliance on the internet and ability to communicate in a globalized economy. Here are some specific areas telecommunication engineers find themselves working in, according to the University of Sydney:

  • Telecom providers such as Telstra, Optus Unwired, Vodafone, AAPT and vendors like Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, NEC
  • Computer companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Google
  • Telecom security, standards and regulations
  • Network management
  • Telecom research and application of that research in CSIRO, NICTA and universities
  • Multimedia and IT companies
  • Design of equipment and telecom devices
  • Military and defense applications

The payoff

Telecommunications engineering is no exception to the high annual income of engineering professionals.

Payscale gives specific statistics on income for telecommunications engineers based on their years of experience.

Source: PayScale

The median salary level for Americans working in the related Electrical and Electronics Engineers group, as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $95,230 per year, according to 2015 statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Computer architects earn $100,240 per year, and the profession has a projected nine percent job growth between 2014 and 2024.

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