What Does it Mean to Study Telecommunications?
When you are chatting on your cell phone as you drive to work, when you text your co-worker, when you are checking your voice mail, when you watch the evening news on television, or when you are surfing the Internet, you are utilizing telecommunications services. This is true any time an individual uses an electrical device to send a message of any kind.
The goal of telecommunications is to send a message from one point to another, without losing or altering any part of the message in the process. Four components are necessary to construct a telecommunications system: a transmitter, a channel, a line and a receiver. A transmitter is a device that codes the message into a signal. A channel then modifies and degrades the signal so that it may be connected to the line. A line, then, is the route the signal takes to get to the receiver. The receiver is equipped with a decoding ability that makes it possible to recover the original message. Once the signal is decoded by the receiver, the process is complete: the message has been transported from one point to another.
More and more, the options and methods for studying telecommunications are expanding to include distance learning. The development of online telecommunications degree programs has enabled more students to learn about this subject without having to relocate to a physical campus.
Students interested in telecommunications and other related careers have several technology degree options, ranging from certificate programs, to bachelor's degree programs, to master's degree programs. Thus, online telecommunications programs expand career opportunities for many future entry-level professionals, as well as more experienced telecommunications professionals hoping to advance their careers with distance education.
Furthermore, because the demand for better, advanced telecommunications systems increases as rapidly as the development of new technologies, it is not uncommon for telecommunications professionals to rely on distance learning to increase and advance their technical skills and update their training.
Online telecommunications programs make it possible for students to maintain commitments to full-time jobs while completing the requirements necessary to earn a degree. Pursuing a degree in telecommunications is also useful for pursuing many other related careers including computer programming, telecommunications systems managing, computer software engineering, and communication line and equipment installing.
Types of Telecommunications Degrees
There is a good chance that most of us utilize telecommunications services on a daily basis. As this need for qualified, well-trained telecommunications professionals increases, more schools develop academic degree programs to help students learn the technical skills they need to function in this competitive industry.
Furthermore, as Internet technology continues to advance and become more wholly accessible, more telecommunications schools offer such degree programs online. Students participate in online sessions, attend web seminars with classmates, and perform interactive tutorials virtually. Online telecommunications students who enroll in distance learning degree programs enjoy a unique opportunity to tailor their own academic schedule and course load to complement existing commitments and lifestyles.
Certificates in Telecommunications
Telecommunications certificate programs offer worthwhile options to students who desire introductory coursework and training. Certificate programs are designed for students who hope to develop the skills necessary to obtain entry-level positions in the telecommunications industry. Online certificate programs encourage students to learn and develop a working knowledge of telecommunications systems, technical skills, engineering, and other related skills.
By gaining basic knowledge and developing key skills, certificate recipients can enjoy various opportunities for employment in this field. Additionally, pursuing a certificate is an appealing option because it allows students to gauge personal interest and skill without committing to a lengthier, more intense degree program. Depending on the particular school or program, a student who obtains a telecommunications certificate may be allowed to transfer this coursework towards an advanced degree if he chooses to continue his education.
Associate Degrees in Telecommunications
Earning an associate of applied science degree (AAS) generally takes one or two academic years, depending on the particular program. Compared to certificate programs, AAS degree programs delve deeper into the core skills and theories utilized in the telecommunications industry, and may also include more general education courses as well. AAS students gain basic knowledge and develop a firm grasp on telecommunications systems, technologies, and innovations.
Similar to certificate programs, many telecommunications schools allow students to apply credits earned in an AAS program towards a bachelor's program. This option presents students with a convenient way to space out the pursuit of continued education if desired.
Bachelor's Degrees in Telecommunications
Earning a bachelor's of science (BS) degree can be both intense and challenging. BS telecommunications programs can help students to learn about telecommunications fundamentals, technology applications, industry principles, management training, engineering and communications. In most cases, they place particular emphasis on a student's ability to understand complex technology and to develop proficiency in industry applications.
Students who choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in telecommunications should be ready to commit to approximately four years of academic study.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Telecommunications?
There are a variety of careers available for telecommunications systems professionals.
Telecommunications Systems Managers
Telecommunications systems managers develop, modify, and monitor the various different telecommunications systems. Telecommunications systems exist to gather and transmit data quickly, and enable users to manage the functions of electronic equipment on their own. Telecommunications systems managers have to keep up with the constantly improving and changing technology and create plans to implement the latest technology on existing systems. Additionally, systems managers coordinate and supervise the efforts of teams of engineers and systems analysts. Telecommunications systems managers find the skills developed in pursuit of telecommunications degrees applicable and necessary to appropriately address the requirements of managing telecommunications systems.
Line installers are responsible for the installation of new lines, and they do this by constructing utility poles, towers, and underground trenches to carry the wires and cables necessary to operate communications equipment such as telephones and televisions. After the construction phase is complete, line installers attach and mount cables to poles, towers and other similar devices. In addition to these responsibilities, duties also include setting up services for customers and installing home and business network equipment. Much of this work requires intense physical labor as well as knowledge of telecommunications technology.
Customer Service Representative
Customer service specialists and providers assist new and existing telecommunications customers with various aspects of their accounts, including repair, installation, billing, and selecting appropriate telecommunications services. Customer service representatives communicate with customers in many different ways, including in person, over the telephone, through written and e-mail correspondence, and by fax.
Often, a customer service specialist is the consumer's primary telephone and cable service provider contact. Because this is true, customer service professionals must be friendly, helpful, and able to understand the needs and concerns of consumers. Additionally, successful customer service professionals employed in the telecommunications industry benefit from an educational background specific to the industry.
Computer Software Engineers
Computer software engineers develop and build new computer software technology. Such technology is often crucial to the innovation and growth of telecommunications.
The work of a computer programmer involves writing, applying and testing computer programs. To put it simply, "programs" are simply instructions that computers can follow in order to perform a task. Computer programmers create and use programs in order to "teach" computers how to solve problems and accomplish goals for various industries, among them telecommunications.
Telecommunications Licensing and Certification
Although most states do not require telecommunications professionals to obtain a license, many professionals in this field choose to fulfill the requirements necessary to earn certifications offered by professional associations. In any profession, certifications designate commitment, close ties to the field, and a level of achievement, education, and skill mastery.
There are multiple telecommunications-related certifications, and each is specific to a particular area of the industry. For example, certification programs exist for engineers, line installers, customer service specialists and other professional groups employed by the telecommunications field. Thus, students pursuing careers in a focused area of telecommunications may find specific associations and certification bodies that specialize in smaller facets of the industry.
Students hoping to earn employment in telecommunications should consider combining available certifications in the field with continued technical education if they want to make the most of their employment options. For more information about certifications available for telecommunications-related professions, consult the associations featured below.
Professional Associations and Related Certification Bodies
- Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE)
- Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers Computer Society
- National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA)
- Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
- BICSI: A Telecommunications Association
- National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
- Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association