What Do Communications Equipment Operators Do?
In our increasingly high-tech world, communications equipment operators are a much appreciated human link between callers and the people they want to reach or the information they need. Many of these professionals work as switchboard and answering service operators, dispatchers, directory assistance providers. If you enjoy working with the public and speaking with people by phone, there may be a job waiting for you in this industry.
Communications Equipment Operators Skills and Abilities
No matter what position you wish to occupy as a communications equipment operator, there are certain similar prerequisites:
- A clear speaking voice
- A patient, understanding attitude
- Accuracy with numbers and written information
A caller can tell whether you are engaged in the telephone conversation, so you should always be professional and attentive as you deal with the public. Callers will represent many backgrounds and nationalities, and it would be a big plus if you happen to speak more than one language.
Communications Equipment Operators Duties
Switchboard and answering service employees are responsible for understanding and using telephone business systems equipment to handle incoming, outgoing and interoffice phone calls. They may relay information and record messages. They may also serve as company “gatekeepers” when necessary.Telephone and directory assistance operators access alphabetical, geographical or other directory information for callers. They might also help callers with billing questions and provide credits or refunds relative to bad connections or numbers that have been dialed incorrectly. Their patience and calm demeanor will come into play on those occasions when they must assist children or disabled persons who need to place phone calls.Dispatchers may be needed by a number of organizations, such as police and fire departments, emergency medical transportation companies or state and national parks. In general, duties will include:
- Operation and monitoring of technical communications equipment
- Simultaneous monitoring of a range of frequencies
- Ability to adapt to a variety of situations
- Speaking over the telephone quickly but succinctly so as to be clearly understood
- Writing rapidly and legibly
- Handling emergency situations calmly and effectively
Communications Equipment Operators Tools and Technology
Communications equipment operators normally work in clean, modern, well-lighted office areas. In addition to phone systems and switchboards, they are usually required to understand and use certain computer programs for purposes such as email or bookkeeping. Depending on the position, operators must know how to access and use company information useful to callers, or directories of various kinds.
Education and Training for Communications Equipment Operators
Statistics show that 31.4% of the applicants for positions as communications equipment operators have earned a high school diploma, and 33.1% have some college, although no degree. Prior experience is usually not required, although certain types of jobs—as emergency dispatchers, for example—may require six months to a year of previous experience working within the organization. Once hired, you will receive short-term training for your new job.
Communications Equipment Operators Salary
The median hourly wage for communications equipment operators nationwide is $19.27, which translates to $40,100 per year. At the high end of the pay scale, workers earn $28.72 per hour or $59,700 annually, while at the low end, hourly pay is $12.64 or $26,300 annually.
Communications Equipment Operators Jobs by Geography
Many jobs for communications equipment operators are located on the east coast where there are large metropolitan areas, such as the New York-New Jersey combination. Another such concentration is found in the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland area, mainly because of the high percentage of government jobs available. At a high end of $66,200 annually, this is also one of the best-paying areas for communications equipment workers. Another high-paying metro locality is the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Illinois, area where the highest annual salary is listed at $76,200.