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A switch technician is a telecommunications professional who installs, repairs, and maintains telephone switching equipment. To work in this field, it is usually necessary to have an associate's degree in a technical field, along with work experience. Pay scales vary by region and employer, and may include access to benefits like pensions and health care plans, along with union membership in some workplaces.
Telephone switching is a key part of placing phone calls and running telecommunications systems like DSL. In order to place a call, it is necessary to route it through a switching system to get it to the right person. The switch technician is responsible for the switching equipment, and must be able to service it with minimal customer interruption. This job typically requires travel throughout a service area, along with on-call work to address problems during off hours.
When installing equipment, the switch technician may need to be able to fabricate or service components in a shop or at the job site. It can be necessary to climb phone poles to service the equipment there, using tools packed in a truck. Technicians try to pack for every eventuality so they do not need to return to the service yard to collect additional tools, as this can be costly. When problems arise with equipment, the switch technician tests and repairs it, and may make note of the need for future upgrades or other system adjustments.
This job also requires monitoring and maintenance of telephone equipment. Switch technicians must check on equipment, run tests to make sure it is working properly, and routinely replace or adjust components. They also need to monitor the system for signs of errors, so they can correct them before they become a problem. The goal is to identify any issues before customers notice them, to provide streamlined service without interruptions. If it does become necessary to temporarily suspend service, customers need to receive a notification informing them about the planned outage.
A switch technician who works during off-peak hours and responds to emergency calls can receive bonus pay. Phone companies rely on their line crews and other technicians to handle outages in response to bad weather and other conditions, and may provide bonuses when people work in hazardous weather. Switch technicians can also go into overtime on projects and are entitled to bonus pay for any overtime hours they work, whether they are responding to emergencies or handling routine work that takes longer than expected.
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