How do I Become a Telecommunications Operator?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 March 2019
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The number of career options to become a telecommunications operator has decreased significantly since the mid-1970s. Today, opportunities are typically limited to emergency services, telecommunication firms, or the military. The primary role of a telecommunications operator is to determine who the caller wishes to speak with and make the connection.

When multi-line telephone systems were first introduced, telecommunications operator was an essential, administrative position. Callers would dial one primary number, and the operator would make the connection through a series of cables and switches to the appropriate party. Over time, technology was developed so that a telecommunications switch allowed callers to be automatically routed to the appropriate location, without human intervention.

This change revolutionized the telecommunications industry. As a result, telecommunication operators were no longer required, as callers could enter a telephone extension, speak with a receptionist who could transfer the call, or dial the number directly. The further development of electric voice recorders that allow callers to leave a message on a machine continued to shift tasks away from this role.

There is no formal post-secondary education designed specifically to become a telecommunications operator. Since most of the telecommunication operator positions are part of the emergency services team, courses are available as part of an emergency services training program. This 12- to 18-month program is available from a wide range of community and career colleges. Additional or specialized training is also provided by the employer or military, as required.


Experience is an important consideration for anyone who wants to become a telecommunications operator. Positions in telephone customer service, front line call center, or related emergency services support are all excellent sources of operator experience. This role requires excellent oral communication skills, ability to work under pressure, and excellent diction.

The career options for a telecommunication officer are quite limited, based on the increased use of technology and decreased demand for this role. There will continue to be a requirement for this skill set for emergency service and military outfits, but the tasks are often incorporated into other jobs. For example, an emergency services telephone operator is expected to manage incoming calls, route them, collect valuable data, and record the conversation.

Computer skills, along with fast, accurate typing and an outgoing personality are all very important for anyone who wants to become a telecommunications operator. Advancement positions require additional training in supervision, staff management, and related skills. Many people combine five to 10 years working experience with a degree in business administration or a related field. Together, these qualifications expand the career path to include office management and call center management.


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