Mataaro Whitiwhiti Kōrero
Telecommunications engineers design, test and build telecommunications networks and systems.
Telecommunications engineers with up to five years’ experience usually earn
$45K-$60K per year
Senior telecommunications engineers with over five years’ experience usually earn
$60K-$130K per year
Source: Futureintech and Trade Me, 2017.
Pay for telecommunications engineers varies depending on responsibility, experience and area of specialisation.
- Telecommunications engineers with up to five years' experience usually earn between $45,000 and $60,000 a year.
- Those with more than five years' experience usually earn between $60,000 and $90,000.
- Senior telecommunications specialists can earn up to $130,000.
Sources: Futureintech, 2017; and Trade Me, 'Salary Guide', March 2017.
(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' needs
- design and update telecommunications equipment and systems
- test and repair equipment
- make sure equipment meets regulations
- build and test prototypes of new equipment
- give advice on suitable materials and costs
- prepare and present reports and proposals
- supervise the installation and use of telecommunications equipment
- provide training for users of new equipment.
Skills and knowledge
Telecommunications engineers need:
- knowledge of electronics, communication systems and mechanics
- up-to-date knowledge of engineering methods, technology and industry trends
- an understanding of telecommunication rules and standards
- design skills, and skill in interpreting drawings and designs.
- work regular business hours, and often have to also work evenings and weekends, and be on call
- work in offices and laboratories, and inside and outside on work sites
- may travel locally.
What's the job really like?
Getting the best value for the customer
Telecommunications engineer Jonathon Exley says that his job revolves around creativity. "You've got a problem to solve and you need to decide how you can do that so you get the best value for the customer. It's a matter of having a whole bunch of ideas, and working through them to find the best solution."
These problems tend to revolve around how to make the network Jonathon works with do what his customers want it to do. "A customer might want a voice network around a whole lot of sites in New Zealand and we'll work out how they can do that. They might use part of our network or we could recommend that they buy certain types of equipment."
Interest in the job is key
Jonathon adds that a keen interest in the industry is also important for people looking at working in the field.
"You've got to be interested and willing to communicate. We hired someone recently from a group of engineering graduates, and the reason we hired him was that he was the most motivated. He contacted us first and was obviously really keen. It's not so much the technical ability people have, like what marks they have got in their exams; it's more their interest in the job and willingness to do the work."
To become a telecommunications engineer you need to have a tertiary qualification, such as a 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.
- Engineering NZ website - information about cadetships in engineering
- NZ Army website - information about becoming a systems engineer
A minimum of NCEA Level 2 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include physics, maths with calculus, digital technologies and English.
Telecommunications engineers need to be:
- logical 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.
There is a technical way of thinking that you need to be able to see things as a system and see how parts fit together and interact.
Useful experience for telecommunications engineers includes work in:
Telecommunications engineers need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).
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 growing due to:
- increased use of internet and mobile technology
- government investment in high-speed broadband.
However, only 1,200 people work as telecommunications engineers in New Zealand, which is not enough to meet demand.
As a result, telecommunications engineer appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term and Canterbury skill shortage lists. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled telecommunications engineers from overseas to work in New Zealand, and to work on the rebuild in Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
Types of employers varied
Telecommunications engineers work for a range of organisations, including:
- telecommunications companies
- equipment manufacturers
- technical service companies.
- Futureintech website, accessed August 2017, (www.futureintech.org.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Canterbury Skill Shortage List', accessed August 2017, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', accessed August 2017, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission), 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative', January 2016, (www.mbie.govt.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 management.
Last updated 31 August 2018