Every business needs communications technologies, like telephones, fax
machines and computers, to do their work. In today's modern office, these
devices are linked with each other.
Plus, there are more devices than ever, including laptop computers, pagers
and cellular phones. The Internet, telephone and video conferencing are creating
even more ways to communicate around town, and around the world.
Telecommunications managers plan and direct the use of these new technologies.
They are the link between the businesses that use telecommunications technologies
and the companies that provide them.
Telecommunications is a broad and growing field. What does it include?
Plenty. For example, on just one day on Yahoo's telecommunications news site,
headlines covered everything from demand for Internet stocks to advances in
computer network security to live jazz webcasts.
Some telecommunications managers work directly for phone companies or long-distance
carriers. They may manage a client's telecommunication needs on an on-call
or on-site basis.
On-site telecommunications managers typically work exclusively for one
large company or organization.
The telecommunications manager often acts as an expert shopper, pricing
out the best long-distance plan or service packages for their employers.
Price isn't the only consideration. "If you believe that price is the principal
deciding factor in communications today, then you probably also believe in
the Easter Bunny," says Paul Kirvan, editor of Communication News. "The name
of the game is service."
Giving good service means being able to understand a customer's needs.
A manager has to analyze and evaluate business needs and be able to recommend
"If you're talking to the president of a company, you need to know how
they think," says Tim Draper. He works for a telephone company. "And they
don't care about technology. They care about how it helps them."
This requires a good understanding of the technology -- but it doesn't
mean you have to know how to fix it yourself.
"You may not have all the technical knowledge, and you don't have to be
a hardware expert," says Jim Masters. He is president of the Association of
Independent Telecommunications Managers. "You just have to know where to find
it, and what the customer wants to do with it."
Some telecommunications managers are self-employed. Masters is an independent
telecommunications manager. He works on call with a number of small- to medium-sized
businesses to find the best long-distance package for their needs. In making
a choice, he has to strike a balance between price and reliability.
There's more to this job than providing telephone and long-distance services,
says Robert Gates. He is manager of the telecommunications department at Walla
Walla College in Washington.
"Surprisingly, providing telephone service is more than just providing
dial tone. We also maintain a campus-wide voice mail system, keep our switchboard
maintained and upgraded, install new telephones and offer training and assistance
when needed," he says.
Telecommunications managers in large corporations generally work in comfortable
offices. In smaller firms, where they may work alongside the people they supervise,
the office may be crowded and noisy. Independent telecommunications managers
often work out of a home office.
Most telecommunications managers aim for a 40-hour workweek, but overtime
is often required to resolve problems. People with special needs in the area
of mobility may still be able to do this job. For those with visual or hearing
needs, interaction with customers and clients will pose some challenges.
This is a fairly stressful job, due to the fast pace of change and the
many details a manager must oversee.
"If there is a necessary evil in telecommunications management, it is that
every detail must be managed in order for it to operate effectively and economically,"
says Richard Kuehn in an article in Business Communications Review. Telecommunications
managers need to be able to handle the pressure.
Plan and direct the use of telecommunications technologies, from
phones to the Internet