The telecommunications industry offers exciting opportunities for engineering professionals. A master’s degree in telecommunications engineering will allow you to contribute to the creation of critical infrastructure and essential communication systems.
Overview for an Online Master’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering
An online master’s degree program in telecommunications engineering gives you pragmatic experience in your discipline and increases your industry knowledge. With an online master’s degree, you may qualify for a role with a higher salary than those associated with jobs that only require a bachelor’s degree. Advanced training also prepares you for exciting work on complex projects. For example, you can help to build telecommunications systems, including the design and optimization of components used for communication.
Telecommunication involves multiple areas of study, such as the engineering services market, cloud engineering, managing data volumes and designing networks. Technical aspects of telecommunications include studying industry-applicable software and hardware. Engineers in the field of telecommunications must also be proficient with maintenance planning, legal requirements and restrictions, and research and reporting. Classes in telecommunications management are necessary for those wanting to manage teams.
Why earn an online master’s degree in telecommunications engineering?
Those pursuing a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering make a career choice that isn’t only about salary. It’s also about being a vital link between commerce and safety.
All countries have telecommunications needs for communication. A telecommunications engineer helps to create effective means of people speaking with each other for business, leisure, and safety. Telecommunications failures can prevent companies from functioning, delay vital first responder help, and lower the quality of life for everyone.
Master’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering Curriculum and Common Courses
Earning a master’s in telecommunication engineering online requires courses focused on math and technology. Students will study courses in creating networks for computers, telephones and televisions. Coursework combines knowledge of electrical engineering with business and information technology.
Students will learn how to design and build software programs for telecommunications. They’ll study technical capabilities such as internet modems and call waiting. These programs usually end with an internship or final project. Shared areas of study include:
- Advanced physics. These courses explore physics as it applies to telecommunications. Common topics include the use of electromagnetic waves in analog signals and quantum mechanics for digital signals.
- Computer networks. A graduate-level course on telecommunications typically focuses on wireless technology. Common topics include 5G networks, WiFi standards, Bluetooth technology, routing and switching and security.
- Fiber optics. These courses explore the transformative effect of fiber optic technology on modern telecommunication systems. They cover topics like bandwidth, amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, phase modulation and pulse modulation of fiber optics.
- Network engineering. Courses in network engineering focus on the design and optimization of systems and components used in communication. Topics include the theory and practical applications of telecommunication networks like LANs, MANs and WANs.
- Network security. These courses cover general topics in the network security domain such as access control, network structure, transmission methods and transportation formats. They also explore specific security measures such as authentication over private and public telecommunication networks.
- Telecommunications policy. Courses on telecommunications policy focus on the interaction of technology, economics and business strategy in developing network policies. They also provide students with an understanding of the social and economic impact of design decisions.
- Wireless communication systems. These courses explore the principles and protocols of wireless communication networks, including characteristics, models and mechanisms. They may also cover specific topics such as antennas, image processing, microelectronics and electromagnetics.
A master’s degree in telecommunications engineering goes into deeper levels for these topics. Depending on the student’s interests, other studies may involve global telecommunications, business management, strategy and innovation, operations and planning, and project management. Students may want to use their master’s degree to pursue higher education like a doctorate, for careers in academic settings like universities.
Students interested in a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering must have a background in math, such as graduate-level mathematics, numerical methods or statistics. Computer science is an essential part of a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering because it’s a necessary skill in many related industries. They also need to communicate effectively, so coursework in English and other languages, technical writing, and social skills are beneficial.
Accreditation for Master’s Programs in Telecommunications Engineering
Accreditation tells interested parties such as graduate boards and prospective employers that your education meets certain minimum standards. It’s generally a requirement for graduates in technical disciplines like telecommunications engineering, so you need to ensure that your degree will be accredited by the appropriate organizations.
Two types of educational accreditation exist, including institutional accreditation and program accreditation. Institutional accreditation focuses on the quality of the institution in general, without regard to any particular degree program. It includes a review of the faculty, facility, student body, budgeting practices and admissions procedures. Program accreditation examines the institution’s specific degree programs, including course content and degree requirements.
These two types of accreditation are granted by separate bodies. In the case of institutional accreditation, one body typically provides accreditation for all the institutions within a particular geographic area. For program accreditation, the accrediting body is usually a government agency or industry group specific to that discipline.
The Accreditation Board for Engineeringing and Technology (ABET) is one of the most important accrediting bodies for degree programs in telecommunications engineering. This nonprofit, non-governmental agency is responsible for accrediting degree programs in many technical disciplines that include engineering, engineering technology and computing. ABET has separate commissions for each of the disciplines, including the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission in the case of telecommunications engineering. In addition to program accreditation, ABET also provides students with a variety of resources throughout their academic careers.
Online Master’s Degree Programs in Telecommunications Engineering
Master’s degree programs in telecommunications are growing areas of study at many leading institutions, rather than niche academic programs. Graduate programs in this discipline often combine technical training in networks with the business and management aspects of telecommunications. They also provide students with a multidisciplinary curriculum that covers wireless networking, optical communications, computer network security and telecommunications regulations and policies. Completion of a graduate education in telecommunications engineering typically results in a Master of Science (MS) degree. The following institutions offer this degree:
1. Boston University: MS in Telecommunication
The MS in Telecommunication at Boston University’s (BU) Metropolitan College (MET) integrates areas of knowledge that include computer science, engineering and management, in addition to the legal aspects of telecommunications. It includes the challenges that telecommunication providers will face in implementing 5G networks to increase their revenue. The BU MET Telecommunication degree program also provides students with a comprehensive understanding of networking systems, services and technologies. In addition, it shows them how to manage complex telecommunication projects, including the comparison of networking and telecommunication products and services.
2. Florida International University: MS in Telecommunications and Networking
Florida International University (FIU) offers its MS in Telecommunications and Networking through its Knight Foundation School of Computing & Information Sciences. This program provides students with multiple paths for learning about real-time information networking in today’s global environment. These include strategies for implementing optical and wireless technologies as a means of increasing business opportunities. This degree program also offers multiple areas of specialization, including the design and installation of telecommunications systems such as computer, data, video and voice. Troubleshooting and data security are also options for specialization.
3. Pace University: MS in Telecommunication Systems and Networks
The MS program at Pace University includes extensive hands-on experience that allows them to apply their knowledge of telecommunications. The faculty also has years of industry experience, allowing them to effectively guide their students through their classes. These projects typically involve students working together to design innovations for this industry.
For example, the Applied Data and Networking Sciences Lab provides students with experience in using telecommunications equipment and access to the training programs for Cisco’s Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. Pace University’s partnership with Cisco allows them to provide this to students at no charge. CCNA certification is highly beneficial for telecommunications engineers, especially those seeking their first job.
4. Southern Methodist University: MS in Network Engineering
Southern Methodist University (SMU) offers its MS program in network engineering through its Lyle School of Engineering. This program emphasizes hands-on learning in state-of-the-art facilities that provides graduates with the ability to manage complex telecommunications systems, including ways to improve efficiency and profits. It’s primarily designed for students who want a career with large corporations, including telecommunications managers, regulatory agencies, service providers and equipment vendors.
5. University of Maryland: MS in Telecommunications
This program includes many courses in networking and wireless communications, with areas of study that include the design and optimization of cellular networks, satellite communications and 4G/5G wireless systems. Students also receive exposure to a variety of state-of-the-art wireless technologies. Students can choose concentrations such as cloud computing, Cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT), network performance optimization, software-defined networking (SDN), switch/router configuration and troubleshooting.
6. University of Nebraska: MS in Telecommunications Engineering
This program is primarily taught at the Peter Kiewit Institute of Information Science, Technology, and Engineering (PKI) in Omaha, about 50 minutes from the University of Nebraska’s (UN’s) Lincoln campus. However, students may take some of the courses in computer science and electrical engineering at the Lincoln campus. UN’s partnership with PKI provides students with unique opportunities for their education and career. PKI’s facilities include laboratories for optical, telecommunications and wireless studies, in addition to an IBM supercomputer and high-speed connections to AccessGrid and Internet2.
7. University of Pittsburgh: MS in Telecommunications
The Master of Science in Telecommunications (MST) program at the University of Pittsburgh explores the flow of information through networks, including those for phone services and the internet. These networks support a variety of functions that students may study, including business, education, healthcare, social interaction and transportation. The MST program is designed for telecommunications specialists who can design, build, manage and secure these networks, allowing them to be used by people, organizations and applications.
What can I do with a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering?
Telecommunications engineers can find work in many industries, including the military. These include the following:
Digital Telecommunications Engineer. Digital telecommunications engineers perform technical and professional analytical activities, and help to design equipment and systems to assist communication for industrial, commercial and scientific industries. They use technical knowledge to create designs to solve communication problems and improve telecommunication technologies such as fiber optic cables, phone systems, radio transmissions, internet transmitters and satellites.
Information Technology (IT) Manager. An IT manager is responsible for supervising, implementing and maintaining computing resources. IT managers also work to ensure the security and effective operation of computer systems, computer applications, hardware and software.
Junior Telecommunications Engineer. Junior telecommunications engineers provide technical project analysis services for mobile communication service stations. They’re part of support teams that answer to more senior staff.
Lecturer/Professor. A lecturer or professor works to teach others about telecommunications issues. Lecturers or professors often have doctorate degrees.
Network Manager. A network manager is also known as a system administrator. Network managers help establish system networks, work to administrate these systems and help to troubleshoot systems for employees, employers or other non-technical people.
Project Manager, Information Technology. An IT project manager is a professional who helps businesses and organizations with their IT planning and projects. Some roles include introducing new software solutions, scaling IT processes or migrating businesses to new cloud providers.
Systems Engineer. Systems engineers oversee systems and technical projects. They have operational tasks of costing, manufacturing, system testing, evaluating and disposal of unneeded technology. System engineers also must ensure systems and processes are efficient.
Telecommunications Analyst. Telecommunication analysts provide technical support for network design activities. They review, analyze and maintain telecommunications systems.
Telecommunications Network Engineer. Telecommunications network engineers design, implement and manage telecommunication networks such as data networks. They work to implement voice networks and video communication.
Telecommunications Specialist. A telecommunications specialist creates and installs computer technology for communication, such as video or data systems. They inspect, fix and maintain equipment as needed.
Telephony Engineer. Telephony engineers design and resolve network administration, installation and customization issues. They support network management, recommend network design patterns for connectivity and analyze their work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies telecommunications engineers as a type of electrical and electronics engineer. The total number of jobs for these occupations in the US was 303,800 in 2021, with an increase of 9,800 jobs expected between 2021 and 2031. This is a growth rate of about three percent, which is below the average of five percent for all occupations. The BLS also expects about 20,100 openings for electrical and electronics engineers each year during this decade. Most of those openings will result from workers transferring to different occupations or leaving the labor force entirely.
Telecommunications engineers design and install equipment used to transmit data for broadband, cable, wired phone and cellular phones. They also work with fiber optic and copper cables when building networks and switching systems. In addition, telecommunications engineers may install or coordinate the installation of hardware and software for a telecommunications system.
Glassdoor reports that the median base income for telecommunications engineers in the US is $76,170 per year as of April 2023, with a total median compensation of $89,813 per year. The total compensation for most telecommunications engineers is between $71,000 and $115,000 per year.
Network engineers build and maintain computer networks, including monitoring and administration. They also install, maintain and configure software for networks, including operating systems and applications. Additional duties of network engineers include planning, coordinating and implementing hardware and software to protect an organization’s IT infrastructure.
Glassdoor reports that the median base income for network engineers in the US is $82,171 per year as of April 2023, with a total median compensation of $89,288 per year. The total compensation for most network engineers is between $70,000 and $114,000 per year.
Wireless Communications Engineer
Wireless communication engineers specialize in the design, implementation and maintenance of wireless networks, typically those for cellular phones. They’re usually employed by wireless telecommunications companies.
Glassdoor reports that the median base income for wireless communications engineers in the US is $57,828 per year as of April 2023, with a total median compensation of $62,584 per year. The total compensation for most wireless communications engineers is between $50,000 and $79,000 per year.
Optical Communications Engineer
Optical communications engineers develop optical systems for commercial communication networks and also collect data and analyze field trials. They may apply optics concepts to develop applications for using light to transmit data. Optical engineers need an education that focuses on physics, geometry and optical communication systems.
Glassdoor reports that the median base income for optical communications engineers in the US is $56,664 per year as of April 2023, with a total median compensation of $61,185 per year. The total compensation for most optical communications engineers is between $49,000 and $77,000 per year.
Satellite Communications Engineer
A satellite communications engineer designs and supports hardware and software used to communicate with satellites. They must also track the satellite’s position and minimize the communications equipment’s latency. Satellite communications engineers also test systems in environments before installing them on a satellite.
ZipRecruiter reports that the average total compensation for satellite communications engineers is $112,869 per year as of April 2023. The total compensation for most of these engineers is between $71,500 and $150,000 per year.
How much do telecommunications engineers make?
Starting Salary for Telecommunications Engineers
Telecommunications engineers typically start out by designing or configuring communications systems for data, video and voice. OwlGuru.com reports that the average starting salary in 2021 for telecommunications engineers with little to no experience was between $74,800 and $92,440 per year. The bottom of this range was the salary for the bottom 10 percent of telecommunications engineers, while the top end was the salary for the bottom 25 percent.
Average Salary for a Master’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering
Salary.com provides salaries for telecommunications engineers as reported solely by employers. It shows that the median salary for a telecommunications engineer V (senior level) with an MS or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is between $144,877 and $155,153. In comparison, the median salary for a telecommunications engineer V with only a bachelor’s degree is between $143,484 and $153,770. Thirty percent of these engineers have a master’s degree, while 39 percent have a bachelor’s degree.
What’s the most a telecommunications engineer makes?
The top ten percent of all electrical engineers in terms of salary made more than $162,930 per year in May 2021, according to the BLS. The highest-paid industry for this occupation was research and development (R&D) in the physical, engineering and life sciences, where the median annual salary was $125,080. The top ten percent of electronics engineers earned over $166,890. The highest-paid industry for this occupation was the manufacture of navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments, where the median annual salary was $128,560.
Tips for Increasing Salary Potential
Increasing your salary potential as a telecommunications engineer is often a matter of acquiring the right skill sets. The most important skills to have for entry-level jobs is setting up and configuring network devices, so you need to be well-versed in network standards and protocols. The next step should be to specialize in a particular area, since specialists can usually command significantly higher salaries.
Network security is currently one of the hottest specialties for a telecommunications engineer. A professional certificate in cybersecurity can often open doors to new positions in this occupation. Cloud computing training is also becoming useful for designing, optimizing and managing networks, as more companies transition to the cloud. A Google Cloud Network Engineer Professional Certificate is therefore beneficial for many telecommunications engineers. Knowing the right programming languages can also make you a stronger candidate for many positions in this occupation. Strong choices for building networks include Python, Perl, Bash and Golang.
Continuing Education after a Master’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering
Continuing education after receiving your master’s degree in telecommunications engineering typically consists of advanced certifications and doctorate degrees.
Advanced certificates are often helpful for getting specialized telecommunications jobs, especially if your master’s degree didn’t involve much field work. The following certifications indicate general-purpose training that isn’t specific to any particular vendor:
- Certified Convergent Networking Technologies
- Certified Telecommunications Analyst (CTA)
- Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist (CTNS)
- Certified Telecommunications Subject Matter Expert
- Internet Protocol Engineering Professional (IPEP)
- Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD)
Employers may also require certificates for their proprietary equipment, applications and protocols.
In addition, some telecommunications engineers may benefit from a Professional Engineer (PE) license, especially those who actually build hardware. The qualification for this license includes a four-year degree in engineering, four years of progressive experience and passing scores on written and oral exams. A PE license also requires you to maintain your skills and retake the exams periodically.
Doctorate in Telecommunications Engineering
A doctorate program in telecommunications engineering typically focuses on researching new ways to improve communications technology. Its primary value for career advancement is to teach at the university level. It may also help you transition to other careers such as software engineering, for positions that require developing, repairing and testing networks. Other positions that may benefit from a doctorate degree in telecommunications engineering include network systems administration and business operations, especially for a company with telecommunications as a core competency.
Financial Aid Information
Graduate students will typically have multiple opportunities for financial aid available to them, especially those in highly technical programs like telecommunications. Financial aid may take the form of loans, scholarships and student aid. Both the educational institution and the federal government will typically offer these options, and some will be specific to telecommunications students. Each school should have its own financial aid department, which will have full details on the aid available to each student.
Lenders generally make decisions on students based on their financial situation, rather than the degree they’re pursuing. Both private companies and government programs offer loans, although they have some significant differences. Student loans from private lenders typically have a higher interest rate, but are also easier to qualify for. Government loans are more likely to be based on financial need, so they have eligibility criteria and require more documentation. Most lenders offer multiple repayment options to accommodate your educational and career plans.
Scholarships for graduate-level students are often known as fellowships. Telecommunications companies are one of the most common sources for fellowships in this discipline, which often carry conditions such as future employment or publishable research.
For example, TELUS offers its annual Graduate Fellowship on Telecommunications Policy to five students interested in conducting research on telecommunication policy. Each student receives up to $7,500 and is required to submit a research paper on some aspect of telecommunications policy. This research is independent, and the student is expected to develop expertise in this topic based on innovative approaches to policy development.
An internship is an opportunity to work alongside telecommunications professionals in a real-world environment, often in a government agency. For example, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is an agency of the US Department of Commerce that addresses telecommunication challenges such as allocating the wireless spectrum, strengthening protections for consumer privacy and maintaining the multi-stakeholder character of internet governance. NTIA offers multiple internships to telecommunications students, most of which are unpaid. However, interns may qualify for academic credit in some graduate programs. These internships are the best match for telecommunications students who want to specialize in public policy and international affairs.
How much does a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering cost?
Costs for graduate programs in engineering primarily depend on the educational institution. Expenses include tuition, supplies and other fees. According to a U.S. News and World Report, per-credit costs for an online telecommunications engineering degree range from $350 to $820, for a total cost between $11,000 and $31,000. Online degrees are often less expensive than attending brick-and-mortar universities, since all students usually pay the in-state tuition. In addition, online costs don’t involve student activity fees, residency fees and other added fees.
Is a master’s degree in telecommunications engineering worth it?
Once you obtain your bachelor’s degree in telecommunications, you’ll generally need to decide to enter the workforce or continue your education by getting a master’s degree. This decision requires you to consider the financial cost of the degree and the delay of at least a year in starting your career. Technical specialties such as network design are more likely to provide a financial benefit for a master’s degree, especially for fiber-optic and wireless networks. Furthermore, executive roles that require administrative and technical knowledge often require a master’s degree in telecommunications or a related discipline.
How long does it take to earn an online master’s degree in telecommunications engineering?
An online master’s degree in telecommunications typically requires at least 30 credits beyond your undergraduate degree. However, you may need a few more courses than that if your undergraduate degree isn’t in telecommunications. The primary variable in determining how long it will take to earn your master’s degree is therefore your course load. You can typically do it one calendar year if you take a full load every semester and don’t experience any scheduling conflicts. If you’re also working at the same time, you should expect it to take at least two years to get your master’s degree.
Is a master’s degree required to advance as a telecommunications engineer?
A master’s degree isn’t typically required for an entry-level job in telecommunications, but this can change as you advance in your career. Larger companies may prefer candidates with a graduate degree, especially if telecommunications is a major part of their business. A postgraduate education may also be beneficial if you plan to advance into executive management roles such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technical Officer (CTO), typically an MS in telecommunications or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Roles that involve emerging technologies in telecommunications are another possibility for using your master’s degree.
Are telecommunications engineers in demand?
The demand for telecommunications engineers varies considerably by geographic location and industry. For example, Zippia reports that Washington, DC has the highest demand for telecommunications engineers in the U.S. Large cities also have the extensive IT infrastructure needed to attract many of these engineers. It’s important to consider the cost of living when identifying the locations with the greatest demand, as they’re often the most expensive places to live. The high salaries that you may see listed for telecommunications engineers are frequently more reflective of the cost of living than the demand for these occupations.
What industries are hiring telecommunications engineers with a master’s degree?
Zippia reports that the industries hiring the most telecommunications engineers with master’s degrees are typically Fortune 500 corporations, regardless of their core business. Telecommunications firms and other high-tech companies are also in great need of these engineers at this time. Additional industries that are actively hiring telecommunications engineers with master’s degrees include the financial sector.
Is an online master’s degree in telecommunications engineering the same as an on-campus degree?
A minority of hiring managers and firms may have a preference for telecommunications engineers with an on-campus master’s degree, as opposed to an online degree. However, educational institutions don’t typically make this distinction on their diplomas or transcripts.