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Communications Equipment Mechanics

At a Glance

  • Work with switches, switchboards, cable, radio, and other equipment
  • May work at customers' homes or businesses
  • Work both indoors and outdoors
  • Sometimes climb poles and towers
  • May work nights, weekends, and holidays
  • Most have a certificate or associate degree in electronics

Career summary

Communications equipment mechanics set up and maintain equipment that transmits signals to carry information.

Depending on their job duties, communications equipment mechanics may also be called telecommunications technicians or telephone installers and repairers. More specific job titles include central office technicians, PBX installers or repairers, station installers and repairers, or radio mechanics.

#Some titles from 3166 rest from NWOIS narrative

# review 3/25/19 lh

Communications equipment mechanics do many tasks, often depending on their specialization and where they work. The following are specific types of mechanics.

Central office technicians

Central office technicians set up and maintain switches, cables, and other equipment. They work in central offices of telephone networks and Internet connections. New switches are self-monitoring and they alert repairers to malfunctions. Some switches allow repairers to diagnose and fix central office problems from a remote location.

PBX installers and repairers

PBX installers set up private branch exchange (PBX) switchboards. PBXs relay incoming, outgoing, and interoffice calls.

Installers set up equipment and connect it to power lines. They install frames and supports. They also install power systems, alarms, and phone sets. They test the connections to be sure there is enough power. They run tests to verify that the new equipment works properly.

PBX repairers figure out if the problem is in the PBX system or in the phone lines. They use small hand tools such as pliers or screwdrivers to fix equipment. They replace defective components such as fuses or wiring.

Radio mechanics

Radio mechanics install and maintain equipment that transmits and receives radio waves. Equipment is either on radio towers or in mobile units. Mechanics check equipment for faulty components or loose or broken wires. They use hand tools and electrical measuring devices to test radio functions.

Station installers and repairers

Station installers and repairers work at customers' homes or businesses. They install phone, Internet, and cable television services. They often set up modems and other computer hardware and software.

Repairers test customers' lines if there is a problem. If repair work is in the outside service lines, repairers request help from the service center.

Related careers

This career is part of the Arts, Audio/Visual Technology, and Communications cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to communications equipment mechanics.

Common work activities

Communications equipment mechanics perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, communications equipment mechanics:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Communications equipment mechanics frequently:

It is important for communications equipment mechanics to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for communications equipment mechanics to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Communications equipment mechanics need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a communications equipment mechanic, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Many communications equipment mechanics learn their skills through formal training programs. Professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer training in electronics or communications. In these programs you learn to use hand tools and repair electronic equipment. Courses on fiber optic technology are also available. Some communications mechanics have an associate degree.

On-the-job training

Communications equipment mechanics learn additional skills on the job from an experienced worker. On-the-job training typically includes a combination of formal classroom training and informal hands-on experience. This type of training can last anywhere from a few months to one year.

Large companies may send mechanics to outside training sessions. This keeps you informed of new equipment and how to service it. As networks have become more complex, the knowledge mechanics need has also increased.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to become electronic instrument and equipment repairers. This occupation includes communications equipment. Training lasts from eight to 40 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Washington apprenticeships

Some repairers prepare for this occupation through an apprenticeship program.

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

#Added apprenticeship contact info since L&I listed some apprenticeships on its website for SOC 49-2022.00 3/8/10 & 3/28/16 cj. Info ok 2/19/18 cj.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers seek applicants with training in electronics. Military experience with communications equipment is highly valued by many employers.

Employers look for mechanics who are able to work without close supervision. Some mechanics have contact with customers. For these positions, employers look for applicants with a pleasant personality and a neat appearance. Good communication skills are also important.

Communications equipment mechanics must be able to see the difference between colors. This is because wires are color-coded. They must be able to hear differences in the various tones on phone systems. For jobs that require them to climb poles or towers, mechanics must be in good physical shape.

Many companies have skill or aptitude tests which applicants must pass. A valid driver's license and a good driving record are essential.

Many jobs are filled internally through a job-bidding process based on skills.


The ability to talk with customers is important. Technical training and the ability to keep up with technological changes are helpful. Classroom training or work experience in electrical, electronic, or mechanical fields may improve employment chances. Learn about digital telephony.

Costs to workers

Some workers may have to purchase work boots. Workers are usually required to join a union (most are members of the Communications Workers of America). Dues vary depending on the area, but they are often the equivalent of two hours of the worker's wages per month.


Some mechanics must be certified to perform certain tasks or to work on specific equipment. Certification requirements vary by employer and specialization.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Radio, cellular, and tower equipment installers and repairers (SOC 49-2021)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $23.32 $27.60 $34.49 $39.00 $44.43
Monthly $4,041 $4,783 $5,977 $6,759 $7,700
Yearly $48,500 $57,410 $71,740 $81,110 $92,410
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $23.00 $27.53 $33.34 $38.53 $41.19
Monthly $3,986 $4,771 $5,778 $6,677 $7,138
Yearly $47,846 $57,257 $69,347 $80,147 $85,689
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $34.91 $38.62 $41.66 $45.89 $48.44
Monthly $6,050 $6,693 $7,220 $7,953 $8,395
Yearly $72,617 $80,328 $86,661 $95,462 $100,743
    Vancouver Hourly $21.25 $29.73 $36.30 $40.26 $45.95
Monthly $3,683 $5,152 $6,291 $6,977 $7,963
Yearly $44,195 $61,837 $75,503 $83,741 $95,559
United States Hourly $15.15 $19.52 $26.39 $33.94 $41.52
Monthly $2,625 $3,383 $4,573 $5,882 $7,195
Yearly $31,520 $40,600 $54,890 $70,590 $86,350

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers (SOC 49-2022)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $18.23 $26.14 $32.22 $36.49 $39.56
Monthly $3,159 $4,530 $5,584 $6,324 $6,856
Yearly $37,920 $54,380 $67,020 $75,900 $82,290
    Bellingham Hourly $20.33 $23.27 $30.70 $36.98 $45.45
Monthly $3,523 $4,033 $5,320 $6,409 $7,876
Yearly $42,277 $48,388 $63,867 $76,928 $94,538
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $24.02 $28.37 $33.56 $37.13 $39.32
Monthly $4,163 $4,917 $5,816 $6,435 $6,814
Yearly $49,943 $59,021 $69,798 $77,236 $81,782
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $16.61 $27.99 $34.22 $37.93 $44.00
Monthly $2,879 $4,851 $5,930 $6,573 $7,625
Yearly $34,542 $58,211 $71,174 $78,894 $91,519
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $29.99 $32.16 $34.50 $36.85 $38.27
Monthly $5,197 $5,573 $5,979 $6,386 $6,632
Yearly $62,385 $66,883 $71,769 $76,656 $79,587
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $24.72 $28.18 $33.09 $37.38 $41.45
Monthly $4,284 $4,884 $5,734 $6,478 $7,183
Yearly $51,437 $58,603 $68,841 $77,736 $86,211
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $18.07 $26.69 $32.66 $36.89 $39.70
Monthly $3,132 $4,625 $5,660 $6,393 $6,880
Yearly $37,581 $55,520 $67,927 $76,732 $82,572
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $18.37 $24.03 $28.29 $36.13 $46.16
Monthly $3,184 $4,164 $4,903 $6,261 $8,000
Yearly $38,219 $49,985 $58,836 $75,156 $96,007
    Vancouver Hourly $17.79 $23.66 $31.52 $36.19 $39.02
Monthly $3,083 $4,100 $5,462 $6,272 $6,762
Yearly $36,991 $49,214 $65,558 $75,274 $81,153
    Walla Walla Hourly $31.41 $33.14 $35.53 $37.92 $39.35
Monthly $5,443 $5,743 $6,157 $6,572 $6,819
Yearly $65,325 $68,936 $73,905 $78,875 $81,856
    Wenatchee Hourly $19.81 $27.47 $34.14 $37.57 $39.84
Monthly $3,433 $4,761 $5,916 $6,511 $6,904
Yearly $41,217 $57,128 $71,030 $78,146 $82,859
    Yakima Hourly $16.66 $19.17 $22.67 $28.65 $37.58
Monthly $2,887 $3,322 $3,929 $4,965 $6,513
Yearly $34,649 $39,886 $47,150 $59,601 $78,155
United States Hourly $15.59 $20.38 $26.97 $34.51 $39.84
Monthly $2,702 $3,532 $4,674 $5,981 $6,904
Yearly $32,440 $42,400 $56,100 $71,780 $82,860

(1) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages for communications equipment mechanics vary by specialty. Wages also vary by employer and area of the country. In addition, many communications equipment mechanics belong to unions. Union members tend to earn higher wages than non-union employees.

Benefits vary by employer. Most full-time communications equipment mechanics receive typical benefits. These include vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Radio Mechanics (SOC 49-2021)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 400 3.8% 16.1% 45
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 10 10.0% 13.4% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 15 0.0% 15.2% 1
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 25 8.0% 14.1% 3
    King County 216 2.8% 19.6% 24
    Snohomish County 27 0.0% 12.4% 3
    Spokane County 63 6.3% 13.9% 7
United States 14,200 2.8% 5.2% 1,600

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line Installers (SOC 49-2022)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 5,184 3.6% 16.1% 587
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 159 1.9% 13.4% 17
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 66 0.0% 8.6% 7
    Benton and Franklin Counties 118 0.8% 15.0% 12
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 111 11.7% 11.9% 14
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 363 -10.5% 15.2% 27
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 99 8.1% 14.1% 12
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 71 1.4% 14.6% 7
    King County 2,036 6.1% 19.6% 244
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 75 0.0% 13.8% 7
    Pierce County 620 4.4% 15.2% 70
    Snohomish County 1,008 -0.2% 12.4% 103
    Spokane County 357 4.5% 13.9% 41
United States 232,900 -5.6% 5.2% 23,600

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for communications equipment mechanics is expected to decline. Even though there is an increase in Internet and cell phone technology, the equipment is more advanced and does not require a lot of repairs.

Employment of station installers and repairers is also expected to decline. However, use of the Internet and cable services may increase the number of jobs over the next few years.

Despite a decrease in the number of jobs, openings will occur as current workers retire or leave this occupation for other reasons. People who have an associate degree in telecommunications technology will have the best job prospects.

Other resources

Communications Workers of America (external link)
501 - 3rd Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Computing Technology Industry Association (external link)
3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Electronics Technicians Association, International (external link)
5 Depot Street
Greencastle, IN 46135
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
iNARTE - International Association for Radio, Telecommunications, and Electromagnetics (external link)
PO Box 602
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0602
International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers (external link)
2701 Dryden Road
Dayton, OH 45439
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (external link)
P. O. Box 378
Hillsboro, TX 76645
US Telecom Association (external link)
601 New Jersey Avenue, NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20001


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters