The telecommunications industry is responsible for a broad range of services used by Australians many times a day (such as landlines, mobile telephone services, the internet and pay television). The widespread take-up of high-speed digital transmission methods (such as fibre optic cabling) and reliance on mobile telecommunications services have resulted in rapid change and evolution in the industry. In addition, the Australian telecommunications industry has been heavily deregulated in recent years and traditional monopolies have been challenged.

The work

The two largest professional groups represented in the telecommunications sector are electronic and electrical engineers and information technology professionals. Newer specialists in the field include laser and fibre optic engineers, who undertake research and design for the complex equipment required for fibre optic data transmission. Software and computer systems engineers, marketing professionals, project managers and accountants also find work in this field.

The industry is expected to provide substantial employment opportunities in the future for skilled, technologically competent staff. Employment prospects are good, with the expansion of existing networks (including the possibility of a Federal Government-sponsored national broadband network) and the need for continued research and development resulting in increased opportunities for engineers.

Due to its central role in facilitating internet usage and rapid digital information exchange, the telecommunications industry has been dubbed the backbone of the so-called ‘new economy’. Recent growth in the use of telecommunications services for data transportation has been significant, with data transmission expected to provide an ever-increasing proportion of the revenue generated in the sector.

What you need

  • IT, Business, Information Systems, Engineering, Computing, Human Resources and Marketing degrees valued
  • Skills required vary with particular occupational groups
  • Ability to work in a highly competitive industry
  • Willingness to keep skills and knowledge up to date
  • Willingness to work irregular hours in some cases

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • All employed in industry: $39,900–$55,000

Specialised roles

  • Technical specialist: $40,000–$60,000
  • Telecommunications engineer: $46,500–$60,000

(Figures from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 93,000 employed in sector
  • 93% employed full time (telecommunications engineering)
  • Positive outlook (32% growth: telecommunication engineering professionals, 2008–09)