Mataaro Whitiwhiti Kōrero
Telecommunications engineers design, test and build telecommunications networks and systems.
Telecommunications engineers with up to three years’ experience usually earn
$60K-$65K per year
Telecommunications engineers with more than three years’ experience usually earn
$65K-$140K per year
Source: Hays and Potentia, 2020.
Pay for telecommunications engineers varies depending on experience and what type of work they do.
- Telecommunications engineers with up to three years' experience usually earn $60,000 to $65,000 a year.
- Those with three to seven years' experience usually earn $65,000 to $85,000.
- Telecommunications engineers or managers with over seven years' experience can earn up to $140,000.
Sources: Hays and Potentia, 2020.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Telecommunications engineers may do some or all of the following:
- analyse customers' telecommunications needs
- design and update telecommunications equipment and systems
- build and test prototypes of new equipment
- test and repair equipment
- make sure equipment meets regulations
- give advice on suitable equipment, such as computer servers, and costs
- supervise the installation and use of telecommunications equipment
- provide training for users of new equipment
- prepare and present reports and proposals.
Skills and knowledge
Telecommunications engineers need to have:
- knowledge of electronics, communication systems and mechanics
- knowledge of engineering methods, technology and industry trends
- understanding of telecommunications rules and standards
- design skills, and ability to interpret drawings and designs.
- usually work regular business hours, but may also work evenings and weekends, and be on call
- work in offices and laboratories, and inside or outside at work sites
- may work at heights, in confined spaces, and in dirty or dusty conditions
- may travel locally.
What's the job really like?
Network Design Engineer
How did you get into telecommunications engineering?
"I studied applied science at uni with a major in telecommunications and then did a Masters in computer science. After that I applied for a job with Alcatel-Lucent, now Nokia, and got in through their graduate programme.
"I always wanted to work in telecommunications. You can learn a lot and the positive impact you have on millions of people is great."
What do you enjoy most about your work?
"That it’s never boring. You get to use and learn about the latest technology all the time, and there are always lots of interesting problems to solve. You also get to work with the best people, so you learn a lot from them.
"It’s fantastic to help people by improving the way they communicate or access information."
What do you find most challenging about your work?
"Keeping up with technological advances and pushing the boundaries of what is possible."
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a telecommunications engineer?
"If you’re interested in the industry definitely go for it. Especially if you want to have a positive impact on society and want to learn new technologies."
To become a telecommunications engineer you need to have a certificate, diploma or degree in telecommunications, electrical and electronic engineering, or computer science.
Some employers offer cadetships, which allow you to study for a qualification while working.
The New Zealand Army offers training for recruits who want to become engineers specialising in telecommunications.
- Connexis ITO website - qualifications
- Engineering NZ website - information about study options in engineering
- Defence Careers website - information about becoming a systems engineer
NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include maths, physics and digital technologies.
Telecommunications engineers need to be:
- logical, critical thinkers
- good at problem solving and decision making
- good at spoken and written communication
- disciplined, patient and well organised
- able to make good judgements and work well under pressure.
Useful experience for telecommunications engineers includes:
- telecommunications work.
Telecommunications engineers need to:
- have normal colour vision to distinguish between different circuits and cables
- have steady hands
- be comfortable working in confined spaces or at heights.
Find out more about training
- Engineering New Zealand
- (04) 473 9444 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.engineeringnz.org
What are the chances of getting a job?
Shortage of telecommunications engineers in New Zealand
Demand for telecommunications engineers is strong due to:
- government investment to replace outdated emergency communications infrastructure
- government investment in high-speed broadband
- increased use of internet and mobile technology.
As a result, telecommunications engineer and telecommunications network engineer appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. Telecommunications engineer also appears on Immigration New Zealand's construction and infrastructure skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled telecommunications engineers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
According to the Census, 978 telecommunications engineers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Types of employers varied
Telecommunications engineers work for a range of organisations, including:
- telecommunications companies
- telecommunications equipment manufacturers
- technical service companies.
- Faafoi, K, 'NZ A Top 10 Connected Nation with Stage One of Ultra-Fast Broadband Roll-Out Completed', November 2019, (www.beehive.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Fast Broadband', accessed June 2020, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Scott, T, marketing manager, Connexis ITO, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2020.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Strang, B, 'Radio Network Used by Emergency Services Predicted to Fail by 2023', 18 June 2020, (www.rnz.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Telecommunications engineers may progress into managerial roles.
Last updated 22 November 2022