How to Become a Telecommunications Manager
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Telecommunications managers make it possible to communicate from great distances. Nearly every industry relies on these professionals, who design radio, wire, and electromagnetic systems. This job requires strong interpersonal communication skills and an eye for detail.
People who pursue this career normally major in computer science or a related field. During their studies, they may complete internships for tech companies. These professionals may start their careers as installers before earning the credentials to become managers. Continue reading to learn more about how to become a telecommunications manager.
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What Does a Telecommunications Manager Do?
Telecommunications managers design layout plans for communication networks. They constantly look for new ways to improve networks and adapt to technological advancements. Some people refer to this position as telecommunications cycle management.
Early in their career, telecommunications managers often perform installation and repair work. After learning how the equipment and systems function, they often then move into more of a director role. With this career change, professionals manage other installers and provide them with feedback and troubleshooting assistance. Telecommunications managers design the plans that the installers implement.
Telecommunication Manager Responsibilities
- Design secure telecommunications networks for transporting electrical signals or electromagnetic waves.
- Troubleshoot equipment issues and oversee the installation process.
- Communicate client needs to telecommunications equipment installers and perform quality control tasks.
Telecommunication Management Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
What Are the Steps to Become a Telecommunication Manager?
Succeeding as a telecommunications manager often requires formal education and on-the-job training. The next section outlines the common steps people take before launching into this career. Keep in mind you can take multiple paths to become a telecommunications manager.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science or Electrical Engineering
Enrolling in a bachelor's program is usually the first step most aspiring telecommunications managers take. Not every school offers a telecommunications major. However, related majors like electrical engineering or computer science prepare learners to enter this field. Employers typically value any degree that covers information technology topics.
College courses teach learners valuable hard and soft skills for the workplace. Learners discover how to troubleshoot telecommunications equipment and explain issues to clients. During their studies, learners can take advantage of resources at career centers, like mock interviews.
A bachelor's degree takes about four years to finish. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), learners spent an average of $25,910 per year on undergrad tuition, fees, and room and board in 2020-2021.
Step 2: Get an Entry-Level Telecommunications Job
Most entry-level telecommunications jobs only require a bachelor's degree. Some employers may hire college students for part-time equipment installation roles. To land a job right after college, learners should apply for several jobs during their final semester of studies. Completing internships may also help aspiring professionals find a job quickly.
Recent graduates typically pursue entry-level jobs in the telecommunications management field, such as telecommunications equipment installers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals earned between $36,360 and $82,660 in May 2021.
When looking for a quality entry-level job, learners should focus on roles with opportunities for mentorships and advancement. Most telecommunications professionals work in entry-level roles for 1-3 years before they apply for a management position or begin working towards a bachelor's degree.
Step 3: Earn Your Master's Degree
According to NCES, graduate students spent an average of $19,749 on their studies for the 2020-2021 school year. To pay for this expense, some learners must go into debt. People who want to avoid student loan payments can seek grad school alternatives like certificate or bootcamp programs.
Step 4: Get a Job as a Telecommunications Manager
After earning an advanced degree or gathering enough on-the-job experience, individuals can start applying for advanced jobs as telecommunications managers. People should decide which industry niche they want to pursue and look for a job that aligns with their interests.
A telecommunications degree prepares learners for many types of high-paying computer and information technology jobs. For example, the BLS found that network and computer systems administrators earned a median income of $80,600 in May 2021. This is nearly twice the average salary for all other occupations, which measures $45,760.
Step 5: Consider Continuing Education or Specialization
Professional telecommunications managers may increase their earning potential by pursuing continuing education. Earning a doctorate in a specialization may increase earning potential. According to Payscale June 2022 data, professionals with a doctorate in computer science earn an average of $131,000.
Common specializations include:
- Corporate networks
- Wireless network access
- Radio broadcasting
- Computer network architecture
However, aspiring lifelong learners can further their education in other ways. For example, they can join professional networking organizations for telecommunications professionals. These groups often host conferences and publish informative newsletters and journals.
What to Know Before Becoming a Telecommunications Manager
When it comes to selecting the right telecommunications degree, accreditation matters. When a school or program receives accreditation, it means it regularly receives quality assessments from agencies that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) oversees. Both on-campus and online programs can earn accreditation. You can look up a school or program's accreditation status on the ED's website. The Computing Accreditation Commission serves as the top accrediting agency for computer-related programs.
Factors besides tuition influence the true cost of college. When comparing costs between online and on-campus programs, pay attention to costs like campus facility fees. Some online programs still charge fees for in-person services. Other hidden costs can add up, but some schools offer more scholarships to offset these costs.
NCES offers information on how much room and board add to expenses. In 2020-2021, undergraduate students at four-year schools spent an average of about $16,618 on tuition and fees. They spent an average of $7,013 on dorm room charges and $5,403 on board.
Telecommunications managers with a master's degree may earn more than those with a bachelor's degree. According to Payscale May 2022 data, these professionals with a master's degree in telecommunications engineering earn an average income of $106,000. Payscale reports that people with a bachelor of science in computer science earn an average of $89,000 as of August 2022. The BLS also provides data on how salary varies by state, with professionals in Alaska earning the most in May 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Telecommunications Manager
What qualifications do you need to become a telecommunications manager?
Aspiring telecommunication managers often begin their career with a bachelor's degree in computer science or electrical engineering. Most telecommunications management positions only require a bachelor's degree. However, a more advanced degree may prepare these professionals for more advanced or high-paying roles. This management position also typically requires 1-2 years of job experience as an equipment installer.
Telecommunications management also requires a training period. After gaining on-the-job experience, telecommunications managers start to complete unsupervised work. Eventually, they begin to supervise telecommunications equipment installers.
What is the fastest way to become a telecommunications manager?
To become a telecommunications manager fast, learners can earn an accelerated degree. Accelerated bachelor's degrees can take 2.5-3 years to complete. Self-paced online programs may also take less time to complete than on-campus programs. To get a head start on their work experience, students can complete an internship at a local telecommunications company.
People who pick up on new tasks quickly may advance to management roles faster. After even just a few months of experience working as an equipment repairer or installer, professionals can start applying for management roles.
Can I become a telecommunications manager without a degree?
According to the BLS, telecommunication equipment installers typically need at least an associate degree or certificate. This degree or certificate often focuses on electronics, telecommunications, or computer networking. Computer network architects often need at least a bachelor's degree to practice.
However, some telecommunications managers may advance to their role with just a high school diploma and on-the-job training. These professionals often pursue education outside of the classroom. Professional organizations like the Telecommunications Industry Association offer informative webinars and publications.
Can I become a telecommunications manager with an online degree?
Yes. As long as the degree comes from an accredited school, most employers view an online degree as the same quality as an in-person degree. Most programs cover the same curriculum in online and in-person formats. In fact, earning an online degree shows future employers that the job candidate works well without constant supervision.
Earning an online degree may provide students with schedule flexibility. During the time they would spend in a seated course or commuting to class, learners could gain experience by completing an internship or part-time job at a telecommunications company.
How much money can I make as a telecommunications manager?
According to August 2022 Payscale data, telecommunications managers earn an average income of about $79,420 per year. However, telecommunications managers with more than 20 years of experience earn an average of $96,220 annually. These professionals with 1-4 years of experience earn $72,890 per year.
Certain factors influence the earning potential of telecommunications managers. For example, location impacts pay. According to the BLS, Californian computer network architects earned a mean wage of $129,240 in 2021. The same professionals in Texas earned a mean wage of $115,840.