Communication Equipment Operator Career Information and Job Description
The majority of communications equipment operators are employed as switchboard operators for an array of different institutions like hospitals, business support services, and employment services. Switchboard operators run private branch exchange (PBX) or voiceover Internet protocol (VoIP) switchboards utilized distribute incoming, outgoing, and interoffice to relay incoming, outgoing, and interoffice calls, typically for one company. In addition to these responsibilities they also take care of some clerical tasks such as giving out information, handling messages, and receiving visitors. Advancements in technology have helped simplify and automate many of the duties performed by switchboard operators. Modern automated systems relay incoming calls to the desired extension and automated voice mail programs handle messages without the need of an operator.
A few communications equipment operators are employed as telephone operators and they aid customers in making phone calls. For the most part calls are put through automatically, but at times the aide of an operator is necessary. Those employed as central office operators aid customers in making local and long-distance telephone calls. Directory assistance operators serve customers by providing them with info like phone numbers or area codes.
After dialing “0,” callers are connected with workers known as central office operators, or local, long-distance, or call completion operators. For the most part these types of operators are employed by telephone companies and a lot of their tasks have become automated. Today callers are able to complete international, credit card, and collect calls without the help of an operator. Other duties previously done by operators have become automated as well, like billing third parties or tracking the cost of a call.
The services of central office operators are still required for some things, such as making person-to-person calls or interrupting busy lines when an urgent situation requires such action. Central office operators also assist callers in times of natural disaster with emergency contact numbers. Additionally, they help those who are confused or having trouble with automated programs. If a caller is having trouble with an automated system, the operator monitoring the system might assist the caller.
Directory assistance operators will give callers requested info like telephone numbers or area codes. Most directory assistance operators are employed by telephone companies; increasingly, they are also employed by firms which offer business services. Most of the work done by directory assistance operators is now carried out by automated systems. The systems provide callers with menus and options and can even make the connecting call for the caller. Directory assistance operators might observe the calls taken by the automated systems. The operator will listen to a recording of the customer’s call and then input information into electronic directories to retrieve the desired number. In addition, directory assistance operators also help customers who are having problems with the system.
Additional communications equipment operators might be those who operate satellite communications equipment, telegraph equipment, and other communications devices.
Communication Equipment Operator Training and Job Qualifications
Communications equipment operators are trained on the job. In bigger telecommunications firms, entry-level central office and directory assistance operators might be taught in classes as well as get on the job training that can take several weeks. Less training is typically provided by the smaller telecommunication firms. Operators might be assigned to experienced workers who can provide them with on the job instruction. Switchboard operators might be trained informally in a short amount of time, occasionally by the manufacturer of the switchboard equipment.
New employees are instructed how to operate equipment and learn the procedures designed achieve the optimal level of efficiency. They receive orientation of the company policies, especially the desired degree of customer service. As trainees respond to customer requests, instructors will monitor both the timeliness and quality of their responses. Even after training is completed, supervisors will monitor recently hired workers.
Typically a high school diploma is needed to be employed in an operator position. Potential employees should possess clear speech and good reading, hearing, spelling, and numerical skills. Applicants must also be computer literate and be able to type proficiently, and familiarity with a foreign language can be useful since the population of the nation is becoming more and more divers. Those looking for employment might be required to pass a basic test covering language and math skills. The majorities of companies place special importance on customer service and thus look for applicants that are naturally courteous and can work fast at the same time.
With a year or two of experience, communications equipment operators might be promoted to new positions. Often times they take on new clerical positions within the company as their experience is pertinent to such an occupation, and they may work as customer service representatives, dispatchers, and receptionists.
Communication Equipment Operator Job and Employment Opportunities
Through 2012, the employment of communications equipment operators is expected to fall as a result of new labor-saving communications technologies, a shift of jobs to foreign countries, and consolidation of telephone operator jobs into fewer spots, frequently staffed by business support or employment services companies. Almost all the new openings will be caused by workers who stop working or move to new occupations.
Developments in communications innovations—particularly voice recognition programs that are accessible and easy to utilize—will continue adversely affect the need for switchboard operators. Voice recognition technology grants automated telephone systems the ability to recognize human speech inputs. Callers can speak directly to the system, and then the system can interpret the input and make the connecting call. Since voice recognition systems do avoid physically punching in numbers like touch tone systems they are easier to use. Voice recognition systems constantly improving and increasing their abilities as they are able to comprehend a wider variety of vocabulary and grammatical structures; however, many firms still must hire operators so that callers who encounter problems can be assisted by a human being.
Electronic communication via the internet or e-mail introduces substitutes to telephone communication and does not require operators. Internet directory assistance services are effectively reducing the demand for directory assistance operators. Currently, local telephone companies have the most reliable telephone directories; however, internet services can feed customers information like addresses and maps. As the services of telephones and computers come together, the ease and convenience of using an internet directory will reduce the demand for telephone operators.
The demand for operators will also decline as telephone companies consolidate. Telephone companies are expected to hire out operator jobs, most likely to offshore companies, and consolidate jobs as communication technology advancements are made and long distance rates fall. There will be fewer locations that employ operators, and these operators will assist bigger customer bases.
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