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A Career as a Communication Equipment Operator

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Job Summary

In the United States, communication is vital in day to day life. Due to the change in technology, the demand for employees who are able to operate different communication equipment has been on the rise. Communications equipment operators are a central part in the diversity of businesses.

Nature of Work

A communication equipment operator in the United States is employed as a switchboard operator. However, there are a few who are employed as telephone operators and directory assistance operators. Telephone operators are central office operators who assist clients who under special circumstances make long distance or local calls. Similarly, there are also other communication equipment operators who are known as directory assistance operators who assist clients with information like area codes, addresses, business listings or telephone numbers. Although most of the work of telephone operators and directory assistance operators have been automated, they are still important in many businesses especially telephone companies. With the automation of many of the telephone operator’s responsibilities, companies cannot do away with them completely. Most calls are put through automatically but in other cases, the input of a telephone operator may be necessary.

Making calls between human beings or interrupting busy communication lines in emergency situations are some of the examples where the input of a telephone operator may come in handy. Desperate times call for desperate measures and when in times of natural disasters, central office operators assist customers with emergency contact numbers. As technology was invented by man, having totally to do away with man is impossible. This is so because at times the automated programs have trouble, and it is the work of the telephone operator to see to it that it is up and running.

Similarly, just like the telephone operators, the directory assistance operator’s work has been automated. Many automated systems connect calls for the callers, but a directory assistance operator is needed to listen to recordings of the client’s call and input the information into directories which are electronic, in order to retrieve the required number or information. Callers who are also having problems with the automated systems are assisted by directory assistance operators.

There are other communication equipment operator jobs, like people who operate satellite communication equipment and telegraph equipment.


Switch board operator jobs are not very demanding in terms of qualifications. A high school diploma is more than enough for this job. Most employers in the communication equipment operator jobs industry offer training which is specifically meant to fit the requirements of the institution. This training requires a few classes and an informal on the job training is offered. The training normally lasts a few days to a few weeks. Switch board operators, like other public relation jobs, require people with skills on customer service. This also may require training, but it is upon the operator to ensure that the basic requirements like interpersonal skills are there. Knowledge on basic computer operation skills is required and is an added advantage. A great working experience coupled with hard work and determination offers communication equipment operators an opportunity to be promoted to other areas within the company like customer care, receptionists or even dispatchers.

Employment Outlook

As telephone operators merge, they are expected to outsource operator jobs mostly to offshore companies, therefore the demand for switch board operator jobs and all communication operator jobs are projected to decline very rapidly. The rapid decline would be mainly due to new technology and labor cutback in communication technologies which will ultimately translate to high returns to the employer. Telephone operator jobs will be hugely affected by the development of voice recognition programs.

This technology allows automated telephone systems to identify human speech inputs. It is highly advantageous because the system is easy to utilize. However, many companies need telephone operators to assist callers. Needless to mention, mobile phones have negatively impacted on the decline for both telephone and switch board operator jobs. Another communication equipment operator job that has been a contributor to the decline of the job is email and internet services, because it doesn’t require any input by operators. Information like addresses is easily accessible to clients thanks to the search engines available online.

Organizations like business support services, general medical and surgical hospitals, telecommunication resellers, government agencies and schools are perfect examples of the best places to work as a communication equipment operator.

Expected Earnings

The median hourly earnings of communication equipment operators depend mainly on the different institutions. Research carried out in 2006 shows that the lowest paying industry pays $9.55, which lies in the telecommunication resellers industry. The highest is the hospitals and physicians offices that pay up to $11.40 per hour. Others like the business support services and automobile dealers offer $9.60 and $10.04 for switch board operator jobs respectively.


Despite the fact that employment is declining rapidly, the prospects of the job should be good. This is because in the United States, a lot of high school graduates are in the communication equipment operator jobs market. Most of them leave and most of them are there to replace the ones who have left for other occupations and promotions. The switch board operator jobs market is already inflated and although technology is automating everything on the job market, it is imperative to note that jobs would always be there, although less, for communication equipment operators.
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Popular tags:

 high school diploma  communication  customers  United States  emergency  interpersonal skills  on the job training  businesses  public relations  callers

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