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Communications Equipment Operators Job Description, Career as a Communications Equipment Operators, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High School Diploma

Salary: Median— $10.88 per hour

Employment Outlook: Fair

Communications equipment operators are usually deployed as switchboard operators in a wide range of businesses. They work with technologies like private branch exchange and voice over internet protocol to transfer calls to and from the office. They are also often required to perform receptionist functions such as handling caller questions and introducing visitors.

Even though many telecommunications functions are now automated, communications equipment operators are present to help callers and customers who do not know where to direct their queries. Communications equipment operators working for telephone companies help customers in making their calls. Telephone company operators can be classified in two basic types based on their core duties: Central office operators deal with connecting long distance and local calls, whereas directory assistance operators help customers with finding phone numbers, area codes, and other questions.

Communications equipment operators can also operate a variety of other communications equipments such as satellite communications systems and telegraph equipment. They also work for military agencies as radio officers. They can also work for the air force or navy as military electronic and communications equipment operators. They are required to transmit and receive information according to military protocols as well as handle classified data related to military activities.

Education and Training Requirements

Communications equipment operators require a high school diploma to be eligible for the job. They receive on-the-job training courses and short-term classes on how to operate specific equipment.

Entry-level operators generally receive training and classes either at the office itself or from specialized institutions. Some newly recruited operators can even be paired with experienced operators who provide training to them while on the job. The training programs provide them with the general policies followed by the organization, as well as how to respond to specific queries.

Communications equipment operators for the military agencies are provided intensive training on how to operate sophisticated and sensitive instruments, as well as the protocols to be followed while working. They are inducted only after successfully completing their training period.

Applicants are also required to be computer literate. Familiarity with foreign languages is an advantage. Mathematical skills are also prerequisite for certain positions.

Getting the Job

Job vacancies for communications equipment operators are usually listed in the classified sections of leading newspapers. Organizations also post there requirements in employment journals as well as on internet employment portals.

Applicants seeking to enter military service as communications equipment operators must apply directly to the military. They may be required to undergo entrance tests and physical tests before being accepted for training.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With one or two years’ experience, a communications equipment operator can advance to other related positions in an organization. A switchboard operator can opt for clerical positions like a receptionist or dispatcher. If they show potential, they may also be promoted to the level of customer service representative.

Those with an interest in technical aspects of the job can undergo specific technical training programs related to installation and repair of equipments. Some operators can also rise to supervisory roles in an organization after gaining adequate experience.

With the advent of automated systems and labor saving techniques, it is expected that the employment rate for communications equipment operators will decline rapidly. However, job prospects are expected to remain good. Job openings are regular due to the need to replace operators leaving workforce.

Working Conditions

Communications equipment operators usually work in a pleasant and well lit environment. They have to work for long periods of time in front of workstations and may experience physical discomfort to some extent. However, most employers provide the employees with specialized equipment and consoles that help to reduce such incidents.

The work schedule for operators is hectic and they have to handle a large number of calls during peak hours. Since institutions such as hospitals require telephone operators to be available around the clock, communications equipment operators are required to work in varied shifts. Overtime work may also happen depending upon the workload faced by them.

Where to Go for More Information

U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210.

U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave SE
Washington, DC 20590.

Earnings and Benefits

The median hourly earnings for a communications equipment operator in May 2006 were $10.88. An operator can expect to get paid from $9.14 to $13.29 per hour depending upon the level of expertise and organization they work for. Operators working in physician offices receive some of the highest hourly wages in the field.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications