With a master’s in telecom engineering, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, you might work as a telecom engineer in any number of different areas. Telecommunications engineering is a fairly broad area of work – and study – that encompasses the technologies used to transmit data and communications. A telecom engineer can specialize in working in certain components of a telecommunications system or with certain types of data. Other areas of specialization in telecommunications engineering include networking, communication systems and management and administration.
Specializing by Components
Do you imagine yourself working with the software aspects of telecommunications engineering, like software applications that make it possible for users to send information? Or are you more interested in the hardware, the physical components of telecommunications systems? Although you should have some familiarity with both aspects of telecommunications systems if you want to be a telecom engineer, you may find that you prefer working on one type of component more than the other.
If you enjoy the hands-on work of putting together electronics components, a role that focuses on the software side of the field might miss the mark. On the other hand, if you are a brilliant programmer, the hardware aspects of telecommunications engineering may feel like a distraction from the part where you really excel.
Telecom engineers should have at least some knowledge of both the hardware and software aspects of telecommunications systems. You may start your career as a generalist but gravitate more toward one type of component based on your interests and strengths.
Specializing by Data Type
Some telecommunications engineers focus specifically on video and audio signal processing. This is the technology used to send images, sounds and moving images with sound along a cable or fiberoptic network, a radio broadcast or a wired or wireless Internet connection, for example. If you specialize in designing, implementing and operating telecommunications systems that send a certain type of information, you might need specialized knowledge of multimedia systems and compression in multimedia engineering.
Today, multimedia communications are commonplace in forms like cable television broadcasts and streaming over the Internet, while there was a time when the most advanced aspects of telecommunications only allowed you to transmit audio.
Specializing in Networking
Network design and operation is an important aspect of telecommunications engineering. Some master’s in telecommunications engineering programs offer formal concentrations in this area of specialization. Telecom engineering students specializing in networking will study computer communication networks and the concepts and practices of network management and security. The specialized curriculum required for a concentration in networking may include studies of distributed and real-time systems, computer systems architecture and higher layer protocols pertaining to the Internet and Internetworking. Students also learn about the principles of broadband connections, the use of high-performance routers and switches and methods of analyzing the performance of telecommunication networks.
Some of the networks you may find in the telecommunications field include landline phone networks, mobile networks, cable broadcasting networks and the Internet.
Specializing in Communication Systems
Communication, the passing along of data and ideas, is the point of telecom systems. If you choose to focus your studies on communication systems, you should expect to take classes in the principles of the communication theory – meaning the technical transmission of information, not the reasons why people communicate and the language they use – as well as the principles of digital communication specifically.
When deepening your knowledge of communication systems used in the telecommunications industry, you might also delve into the specifics of wireless communications systems.
Specializing in Management and Administration
Managing a telecommunications system network is a big task. Experience working in telecommunications is typically required for an opportunity to work as a telecommunications engineering manager or administrator. However, completing formal coursework in the topic of telecommunications management and administration can also help you on your way to a career as a network manager. Some of the classes you might take to pursue a concentration in management and administration in the course of earning your master’s degree include the policies and regulations of telecommunications, management of computer and information systems and networks management and security.
Generally, a telecom engineering manager fulfills a role more closely related to the design of a telecommunications system than that of a non-engineering occupation like network administrator.