A master’s degree in telecommunications engineering, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, can help you start or boost a career as a telecom engineer. To succeed in this occupation that emphasizes the design, development and implementation of the technologies used to transmit communications and data across a network, you need some cross-disciplinary skills. Some of the areas of study that matter most for telecom engineering students are mathematics, engineering technology and design, computers and electronics and specialized coursework in telecommunications systems.
Math skills are some of the most important abilities for telecommunications engineering students. To gain the math competencies you need for analyzing problems, arriving at mathematically sound solutions and troubleshooting technical difficulties with equipment, you need plenty of study in mathematics. Your focus on math should begin even before your college career does. Prospective students of telecommunications engineering are encouraged to complete high school classes in elementary through advanced algebra, trigonometry and plane geometry. It’s ideal to begin taking calculus courses as early as high school, but if not, a telecommunications engineering student will definitely encounter calculus when they reach the college level of study.
Math-heavy science courses, like chemistry and calculus-based physics, are also valuable for aspiring telecom engineers.
Engineering Technology and Design
Math skills are valuable in many capacities, but for engineers, it’s not enough to be able to understand mathematical and statistical analyses or solve the equations put in front of you. Engineers apply their knowledge of math and science principles to the purpose of designing solutions to real problems. To accomplish this, you must do well in the study of the fundamentals of engineering design. Design in telecom engineering has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with functionality. You must be able to put together a design that will address the problem in a way that is effective, efficient and cost-efficient. Your design goes beyond a mere idea and instead includes the precise specifications and materials of the parts needed to make it.
Telecom engineers also need the mechanical skills to assemble the components into a usable prototype that can be tested and refined.
Computers and Electronics
Computers play an important part in every discipline of engineering nowadays, but this technology is particularly crucial to the field of telecommunications engineering. After all, the telecommunications systems and networks that transmit data consist of hardware and software components. Telecommunication engineers should know the use, specifics and methods of creating hardware components like chips, processors, circuit boards and other types of electronics, according to O*NET.
Telecommunications engineers also need to know how to use and program software applications, which may require knowledge of computer programming languages like structured query language (SQL), VBScript, Perl and Java, O*NET reported.
Our list of important areas of study so far – math, engineering design and computers – could apply equally well to any branch of engineering. What makes telecommunications engineering unique is its focus on the technological transmission of data. A good amount of your studies will revolve around this specialized area of knowledge. You will learn the specifics of transmission and broadcasting as well as the control and operation of telecommunications systems.
Because different kinds of telecom systems exist, you may study wired and wireless systems, digital and analog signal processing and components like routers.
Although technical skills are crucial for telecom engineers, not all of the strengths that matter are what is commonly considered “hard skills.” “Soft skills” are important, too. Being able to communicate well in speech and in writing is essential for telecom engineers and for engineers in other areas of electrical, electronic and computer engineering.
When you design a telecommunications system or network, you will work with people from backgrounds outside of telecommunications engineering. A technician who is responsible for installing and repairing the systems you design understands the technical components of implementation but may not be familiar with the process of actually designing the network or equipment. The user of the telecommunications system may not know or care about how the technology actually works. When you work with the user of a system, that person will communicate their needs, problems and preferences in simple language. To assure the user that you are hearing their concerns, you should also make an effort to use accessible language rather than technical jargon.
Although classes in English composition, literature and public speaking may not seem very relevant to your future telecom engineering career, the communication skills you gain from this coursework can make you a much better telecommunications engineer.