How to Become a

Telecommunications Engineer

The complete career guide to be a Telecommunications Engineer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $102,390
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -1.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute
  • Problem Solving
    Career Attribute

Telecommunications engineers design and implement technology used in large communications systems, such as computer networking systems, wired and wireless phone communication, and internet transmission systems. They may design for both infrastructure systems and intra-office systems.

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What is a Telecommunications Engineer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in telecommunications engineer roles:

  • Design plans for large telecommunications systems for cable, internet, and phone companies
  • Design plans for business offices or large corporations for efficient networking and access to wireless internet systems
  • Plan and install telecommunications equipment, such as copper wires, coaxial cables, and optical fibers

A Day in the Life

Telecommunications engineers are the individuals responsible for the availability of wireless internet, cable television, and mobile phone networks. They plan, design, and install the components required to transmit signals and data used for these systems of communication and infrastructure. Some telecommunications engineers work for cable companies, internet companies, and phone providers and plan for enhancements and installation of major telecommunications systems throughout the U.S.

Other telecommunications engineers focus more on establishing telecom systems at a smaller scale. These engineers plan for telecom system installation for business offices or major corporations. They handle the planning and oversee the installation of wireless and wired internet access systems, multi-line phone systems, and both on-site and remote networking systems that allow technology-dependent business to conduct their work without experiencing access or latency issues.

Telecommunications engineers work with a variety of types of equipment to perform their roles. They may plan for major equipment installations of radio towers, cable lines, or satellites, or they may plan for the installation of small telecom components like copper wires, coaxial cables, and optical fibers. Telecommunications engineers play an important role in ensuring wide access to the technologies and data that are used to conduct both our business and our lives all over the world.

Typical Work Schedule

Most telecommunications engineering roles are full-time positions. While many telecom engineers may conduct their work during normal business hours, others may need to work evening, overnight, and/or weekend shifts to troubleshoot and repair issues with telecom systems whenever they occur.

Telecommunications Engineering Specializations

  • Network engineers specialize in designing and maintaining computer networking systems. They design and install networking systems and conduct routine maintenance at data centers.
  • Telecommunications equipment engineers are responsible for the design of hardware used in telecommunications, such as routers, modems, receivers, switches, and multiplexers.
  • Outside plant engineers (OSPs) are responsible for connecting various telecommunication distribution points with central distribution points. For example, OSPs may be in charge of installing cable lines from a distribution center to various points around a service area.

Typical Employers

Telecommunications engineers are most commonly hired to work for telecom utility providers, such as cable providers, mobile phone providers, satellite TV providers, and landline phone companies. However, they may also work for engineering companies, federal, state, and local governments, or individual businesses or corporations.

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How To Become a Telecommunications Engineer

The minimum requirement for finding work as a telecommunications engineer is earning a bachelor’s degree. The type of degree pursued is somewhat flexible as long as it’s within the field of engineering. Some telecommunications engineers pursue mechanical engineering degrees, some electrical engineering degrees, and other choose to focus specifically on telecom by pursuing a specialized telecommunications engineering degree.

Coursework in radio-frequency technology and electronics engineering are crucial to success in a role as a telecommunications engineer. After graduation, aspiring telecom engineers may choose to pursue licensing as an engineer. The first step in becoming licensed is to take a Fundamentals of Engineering exam. If you’re able to pass this exam, you can qualify to be placed in an internship or apprenticeship program, training under an experienced telecommunications engineer.

To become fully licensed as an engineer, you’ll need to accrue a number of years of professional experience and pass a Professional Engineering exam. When these two requirements are successfully completed, you’ll be able to become a licensed engineer in your state. While licensing is not an absolute requirement for finding work as a telecommunications engineer, it can be helpful for being more competitive for open roles, and can help you qualify for higher-paying positions.

Telecommunications Engineer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Telecommunications Engineer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Telecommunications Engineer's can make an average annual salary of $102,390, or $49 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $77,490 or $37 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #63 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Telecommunications Engineer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Telecommunications Engineers

  • 6.7%   Doctorate
  • 25.6%   Masters
  • 49.1%   Bachelors
  • 8.4%   Associates
  • 7%   College
  • 3%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Telecommunications Engineer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -1,900 jobs for a total of 135,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -1.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #645 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Telecommunications Engineers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Federal government, excluding postal service 17,800 -1,700 -2%
Wired telecommunications carriers 16,900 -2,700 -3%
Engineering services 15,000 1,700 2%

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