In order to communicate and spread information, society relies heavily on telecommunications networks. However, this telecommunications technology is useless without properly functioning equipment. Installing and repairing telecommunications equipment are highly trained switch technicians, who install equipment whenever needed and perform regular service calls to check for issues.
Switch technicians install equipment that is used to operate a variety of equipment and devices associated with telephone switching. Telephone switching is the act of connecting calls between two different telephone operators. These technicians are also responsible for upgrading equipment. These technicians usually need to install, maintain and repair equipment without interfering with the activities of customers, according to Finezi Inc. They must also test the equipment to ensure that the equipment functions properly. Daily logs must be written so technicians can report to upper management. The switch technician must also keep track of the inventory equipment and report when equipment needs to be stocked.
Switch technicians sometimes work at heights, which puts them at risk of falling. They also work with electrical equipment, which can expose them to electrical shocks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of injury for switch technicians and other telecommunications workers is higher than average. This position requires that the technician put herself in uncomfortable positions such as stooping and leaning, sometimes for a long period of time.
The minimum education required of a switch technician is an associate degree in a technical field, according to Finezi Inc. In some cases, the switch technician is expected to have previous experience working with switch equipment, according to PDS Tech. Switch technicians must have good mechanical aptitude and be able to analyze and troubleshoot problems that occur with the equipment that the technician is servicing. The switch technician must also have good interpersonal and communication skills to explain to upper management and clients what he did with the equipment. The switch technician also sometimes has to take instructions from the customer regarding where the switch equipment will be installed. These technicians are also expected to be able to work alone without supervision. Some switch technicians must upgrade computer software, so they must have some computer aptitude.
The need for radio and telecommunications installers such as switch technicians is not expected to grow at all between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lack of growth in this industry is due to advances in technology that reduce the amount of maintenance that needs to be done.
The median annual earnings for switch technicians in 2009 were $55,560. The highest 10 percent earned more than $71,650, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,430.