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New ICA Survey Offers Updated Telecom Professional Profile.

The "typical" 1985 telecommunications professional is in a much better position than the 1981 version, in terms of compensation, levels of responsibility and a variety of other factors. That's a simplistic summary of a new survey of International Communications Association members recently completed by Coopers & Lybrand under the direction of the ICA Professional Standards Committee, which is chaired by Stephen Barnes of Bank of America. The specific findings of the survey also indicate some chainging patterns in the nature of the job when compared with a similar ICA study completed four years ago.

A composite picture of the highest-paid telecom professional would show someone with a vice president or director-level responsibility, who works in the natural resources and mining industry, is employed by a company spending more than $100 million annually for telecom, is based in New York City and works exclusively on datacomm projects.

As the earlier study, ICA's goal was to document today's telecom professional, in terms of salary and responsibility for supervision, management and budgets. Some 182 ICA member companies responded, providing information on 1,075 individual telecom professionals.

Capsulizing the results, the report said, "Present and future telecommunications professionals have, and will have, greater loyalty to their profession than to the organization for which they work. Accordingly, there will undoubtedly be more movement of telecommunications professionals between organizations ... Clearly, the challenge for telecommunications managers is to forecast and manage the appropriate staffing of their organizations."

The survey questionnaire had studied seven level of telecommunications positions--there management-oriented career paths and four technical ones. On the president or direct of telecommunications; Level 2--manager; and Level 3--supervisor. Technical positions included Level 2A--senior project technician; Level 3A--senior analyst; Level 4--analyst; and Level 5--junior analyst.

Both Data and Voice Projects

Not surprisingly, the Level 1's typically are responsible for the entire telecommunications department. Based on the survey, 41 percent oversee all voice and data communications projects, with the work content consisting of varying ratios of voice and data.

All levels have some international communications responsibility, with Level 1's reporting the highest percentage (70). Predictably, 99 percent of the Level 1's have supervisory responsibility.

Looking at the reporting relationships, the survey noted a trend toward closer relationships between data processing/MIS and telecom, as well as a rise in visibility and importance of the telecom function. It found that just under half (49.7 percent) of the responding telecom departments report to the DP/MIS area, 16.7 percent report to administration and 7.7 percent to finance, while 14 percent are part of the corporate staff and 11.9 percent fall into the "other category.

Naturally, Level 1's generally have easier access to the CEO/president of the company. Most (35.9 percent) have two organizational levels between them, although 3.4 percent report directly to the CEO/president. At the other end of the spectrum, nearly seven percent of the Level 1's have more than four organizational levels to contend with in order to get to top management.

As in other things in life, rank has its privileges, and compensations. Each level averages about a 29 percent difference in compensation. The survey also found that a Level 2 manager is paid about 25 percent more than a Level 2A senior project technician, even when they're organizationally equal. While companies traditionally have paid more for management responsibilities, the ICA survey points out, "This may change as the importance of the technical professional becomes recognized."

The chart at the top of page 27 shows the average base salaries level for both 1984 and 1985, reflecting an average increase of 8.5 percent last year. The 1985 salaries for a level 1 ranged from a minimum of $35,500 to a maximum of $134,000, dropping to $23,000 and $97,000, respectively, for a Level 2.

More than three-quarters of the surveyed companies offer incentive compensation programs. Some 65 percent of all those responding received additional compensation in 1984. Cash incentives were the most-popular form (37 percent), followed by profit sharing (21 percent) and stock options (11 percent).

Looking at their backgrounds, the survey found that 89 percent have some college education, 55 percent have at least a four-year degree and 29 percent have a graduate-level education. Four percent of the level 1's even have a doctoral degree.

Business was the top educational specialty (39 percent), with engineering (14 percent) and liberal arts (13 percent) representing distant runners-up. Only eight percent of the respondents have specialties in telecommunications, and seven percent in data processing. ICA expects some shifts in these figures as more colleges and universities offer telecom-related programs.

Two-thirds of all respondents obtained their telecommunications training on the job, while telephone companies provided 17 percent of the training and the military seven percent.

As might be expected, the higher the level, the greater the number of years of professional experience. The Level 1's averaged 14.3 years, dropping to 2.4 years for Level 5's.

Pointing to trends in the fast-changing industry, the survey notes, "Since the fastest-growing area in the industry is data communications, an increasing percentage of management and technical time probably will be devoted to this area." It also points out, "The telecommunications function will most likely continue to increase in visibility and in importance in the organization. That may be accompanied by a greater number of Level 1's reporting at a higher level, greater budgets and more integration with strategy and business decisions."

There's much more information in the 72-page report, which is available for $100 from the ICA, 12750 Merit Drive, Suite 710, LB-89, Dallas, Texas 75251.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1986
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