Telecommunications managers plan and direct the use of evolving communications
technologies and make sure they're reliably connected to each other. These
managers are the link between the businesses that use telecommunications technologies
and the companies that provide them.
"My main responsibilities are handling all help desk [questions] that come
in to the telecommunications help desk, answer the help desk telephone line,
complete any adds, moves, and changes to the lines within the building, maintain
the call accounting database, input work orders, generate monthly billing,
[and] order necessary equipment as needed," says Janay Doctor. She's a telecommunications
manager in Philadelphia.
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. This is the case for Laura Geery-Larson, vice-president
of telecommunications for the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
"You need to understand how the phone companies provision circuits and
how they integrate into the equipment," says Geery-Larson. "They are very
elementary [technical skills]. I mean, you need to understand how wiring infrastructure
[works]. You need to learn how use your tools -- screwdrivers, punch tools,
things like that."
The telecommunications manager often acts as an expert shopper, pricing
out the best long-distance and Internet packages for their employers.
Price isn't the only consideration. Good service is essential to avoiding
downtime and lost revenues.
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
solutions. This requires a good understanding of the technology -- but it
doesn't mean you have to know how to fix it yourself. At the same time, telecommunications
managers increasingly have IT backgrounds as companies are using Internet-based
communications solutions rather than traditional phone lines.
With the merging of IT and telecom, large organizations are increasingly
making telecom one of the responsibilities of a senior-level officer within
"What we're seeing these days is a chief operations officer or a chief
technology officer who would have the mandate for both the telecom, the voice
side of the house, and data, the IT side of the house, and then [they] have
business unit managers reporting to them," says telecommunications consultant
Some telecommunications managers are self-employed (such as Glover). They
act as consultants to businesses and organizations of all sizes.
Often, choosing a telecommunications solution is about finding the right
balance between price and reliability. Telecommunications managers must work
overtime when problems arise. People with special needs in the area of movement
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.
Geery-Larson says demand for telecommunications managers is probably going
down, at least in their traditional role.
"I think it's decreasing, absolutely," says Geery-Larson. "Because everything
is the Web and computers and a lot of companies [have] installed voice-over-IP
systems (VoIP, Internet-based communications), just to alleviate costs. Not
that those systems work any better -- some don't. That's where your process
as to how you evaluate different things and what you need for your business
comes into play."
Doctor also sees a shrinking demand.
"I think that the demand for telecommunications managers is definitely
decreasing," says Doctor. "There are a lot of other tools and systems that
are coming out, and a lot of companies are upgrading from the traditional
PBX to VoIP or systems that are handled remotely." PBX stands for private
branch exchange, a telephone exchange that serves a particular business or
One reason that demand for telecommunications managers might be decreasing
is that telecommunications in large organizations is increasingly handled
by a senior-level officer such as a chief operations officer or a chief technology
officer, says John Glover.