Telecom Industry Provides Careers

By James LaVallee

Ten years ago, no one had heard of surfing the Web, modems were not commonplace and only high-powered business professionals had phones in their cars. Today, organizations have World Wide Web sites, businesses and many homes have modems, and most people have cellular phones. New and ever-changing technologies are equipping business with the ability to communicate anywhere in real time. As a result, a whole new career field telecommunications management is booming.

Telecommunications is defined as the transmission of voice, data, video or other information from one location to another, whether those sites are in the same building or a world away. Telecommunications is a strategic asset that, if managed well, will provide a company with distinct competitive advantages. Whatever the distance, businesses are relying heavily on communication networks, which are becoming increasingly complex. Consequently, employees with advanced technical skills are needed to manage these systems.

In an effort to meet this growing demand for employees who have the technology and management skills specifically for the telecommunications industry, Keller Graduate School of Management -- located throughout California -- is one of the few educational institutions in the state that actually offer a master's degree program in telecommunications management.

"The accelerating pace of advances in telecommunications technology and the continued deregulation of the industry have produced unprecedented changes in the workplace," said Amita Suhrid, telecommunications program manager, Keller Graduate School. "These changes have resulted in a tremendous demand for professionals with up-to-date skills and knowledge of the new telecommunications opportunities."

According to a Network World survey of more than 600 telecommunications managers, there is a growing need for employees to have both managerial and technical expertise. So what skills are employers in this evolving field seeking? The Network World article said " technical experience is not enough; we need someone who also understands business applications and the user perspective, and we need to "encourage employees to take courses in business as well as technical areas to make them more well-rounded." The survey also indicated that a master's degree was a requirement for more than 45 percent of all upper level telecommunications management positions, for more than 20 percent of middle management positions and 12 to 15 percent of all senior level network operations positions.

Whether employees work for large companies or small businesses, they need a broad range of real-world business skills to be successful. The Keller curriculum focuses on the technology and management skills vital to career advancement within the telecommunications field.

The coursework provides a perspective on managerial decision making and the management of a business in a technological environment. It also includes a focus on telecommunications technologies, which enables students to understand and evaluate telecommunications applications and alternatives, and equip them to oversee the management of telecommunications networks.

"Once students complete the telecommunications program, graduates will have the expertise to plan, develop and manage the complex communications systems that enable them to help their companies compete successfully in the 21st Century," Suhrid says.

As the field of telecommunications management continues to expand, the need to well-qualified professionals will also increase. Keller Graduate School is providing students in California with the necessary well-rounded education that will help today's telecommunications experts gain the necessary technical and managerial skills needed to fulfill the job market demands.

As one of the largest part-time, evening graduate schools in the nation, Keller has 31 educational centers nationwide, including sites in Pomona, Long Beach, Irvine, San Diego and Fremont. Besides telecommunications management, the school offers master's degree programs in business administration, project management, human resource management, accounting and financial management, and information systems management.

Critical to this practitioner orientation is the Keller instructional staff. For example, telecommunications faculty members are local full-time telecommunications business professionals who bring their expertise into the classroom. Instructors have at least seven to 10 years of professional experience, as well as an advanced degree.

The school has taken its mission of "service to working" a step further by offering courses via Internet-based distance learning instruction. This allows students to participate in the telecommunications management program or the other curricula from virtually any location. Distance learning students receive the same solid education but it is enhanced by interactive information technology, including computer-mediated e-mail, videotapes, syllabi on the Internet and "threaded conversations," in which students participate in class dialogue by adding on to responses posted by other students.

James LaVallee is Director of Operations-West Keller Graduate School of Management. For further information about telecommunications management courses, call 800/988-0102 or visit the web site at www.keller.edu.

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