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Salary, Wages, Pay: Communications Equipment Operators




Median hourly earnings of switchboard operators, including answering service, were $10.19 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.41 and $12.27. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.13, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $14.59. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of switchboard operators in 2002 are given in the following tabulation:

General medical and surgical hospitals $10.20
Offices of physicians 10.20
Traveler accommodation 9.69
Employment services 9.43
Business support services 8.37

Median hourly earnings of telephone operators in 2002 were $13.75. The middle 50 percent earned between $9.86 and $18.35. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.09, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.80.

Some telephone operators working at telephone companies are members of the Communications Workers of America or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. For these operators, union contracts govern wage rates, wage increases, and the time required to advance from one pay step to the next. It normally takes 4 years to rise from the lowest paying nonsupervisory operator position to the highest. Contracts call for extra pay for work beyond the normal 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 hours a day or 5 days a week, for Sunday and holiday work, and for bilingual positions. A pay differential also is guaranteed for night work and split shifts. Many contracts provide for a 1-week vacation after 6 months of service, 2 weeks after 1 year, 3 weeks after 7 years, 4 weeks after 15 years, and 5 weeks after 25 years. Holidays range from 9 to 11 days a year.

Median hourly earnings of communication equipment operators, all other, in 2002 were $15.21. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.79 and $17.90. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.36, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.82.