Communications equipment operators receive their training on the job. At large telecommunications companies, entry-level central office and directory assistance operators may receive both classroom and on-the-job instruction that can last several weeks. At small telecommunications companies, operators usually receive shorter, less formal training. These operators may be paired with experienced personnel who provide hands-on instruction. Switchboard operators also may receive short-term, informal training, sometimes provided by the manufacturer of their switchboard equipment.
New employees are trained in the operation of their equipment and in procedures designed to maximize efficiency. They are familiarized with company policies, including the expected level of customer service. Instructors monitor both the time and quality of trainees’ responses to customer requests. Supervisors may continue to monitor new employees closely after they complete their initial training session.
Employers generally require a high school diploma for operator positions. Applicants should have clear speech, good hearing, and strong reading, spelling, and numerical skills. Computer literacy and typing skills also are important, and familiarity with a foreign language is helpful because of the increasing diversity of the population. Candidates for positions may be required to take an examination covering basic language and math skills. Most companies emphasize customer service and seek operators who will remain courteous to customers while working at a fast pace.
After 1 or 2 years on the job, Communications equipment operators may advance to other positions within a company. Many enter clerical occupations in which their operator experience is valuable, such as customer service representative
, and receptionist
. (See the Handbook statements on these occupations.) Operators interested in more technical work may take training classes and advance into positions having to do with installing and repairing equipment. (See the Handbook statements on radio and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers
, and line installers and repairers
.) Promotion to supervisory positions also is possible.