Fueled by consistent growth in the telecom industry, the demand for highly skilled workers like Tower Technicians continues to increase, creating a promising career path for those seeking a rewarding and fast-paced profession.
The work is service-oriented, demands teamwork, persistence, highly technical skills, a commitment to safety, and the ability to pivot quickly in stressful situations. It’s no surprise, then, that many veterans and military service members find telecom to be a good career fit. According to the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA):
“Service in the military builds a variety of skills that translate well into careers in the telecom industry – communication, problem-solving, teamwork and perseverance, to name a few. Likewise, the wireless industry offers meaningful jobs that are a good fit for veterans, from climbing towers to designing networks and leading projects, teams, and companies.”
U.S. Army veteran and Tilson CEO Josh Broder agrees:
“Veterans feel that this is a place they can transition to a new career. The team-orientation – the idea that we are responsible for each other’s success and that the mission is bigger than us – is familiar and comfortable. These are people who have served and who have a strong impulse to serve again.”
Tilson is proud to be a veteran-led organization with many military and veteran team members, providing support such as paid military leave, participation in job placement programs such as DOD SkillBridge, and ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve). We value the contributions of our military and veteran team members to support our mission to build America’s information infrastructure.
Michael Cataudella was recently promoted to Tower Foreman in Tilson’s Las Cruces, New Mexico office, where he is responsible for daily planning, construction upgrades, and safety on Tilson’s tower sites. He is also a U.S. Army veteran currently serving as a Construction Equipment Mechanic in the Army Reserves. Michael’s career path in telecom started as a U.S. Army Artillery Section Chief, where he became interested in tower climbing through an Airstreams course. Airstreams is a training program that provides transitioning service members with civilian job training that is specifically designed to complement their MOS (military occupational specialty).
“I think Airstreams, along with a lot of other credentialing courses the Army provides on the way out, is great way to get veterans right into the workforce,” says Michael. “You get a great familiarization with safety, climbing, and using various climbing and rescue equipment. You get into the field with a really good idea of what you will be doing.”
After completing the Airstreams program, Michael joined the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) at Tilson. This program is a one-year full-time program which offers real-life, on-the-job training. “You cannot just go through a book,” says Michael. “You must have real-life experiences and know the difference from what is on paper and what you are going to encounter.”
As part of TIRAP, each participant is assigned a mentor to guide them and facilitate personal and professional growth. Regarding the mentorship program, Michael said, “You can sit down and go through the steps to see what you have done and what is left to do in order to reach the next level.” This structured approach allows TIRAP participants to easily see where they need to improve before being promoted to the next level.
Training during TIRAP includes ground installation of antennas, site audits, maintenance tasks, troubleshooting, and more. The position supports the build and maintenance of cell towers, small cells, outdoor distributed antenna system (oDAS), and other wireless equipment and structures.
With years of experience through the TIRAP and Airstream programs as well as his military experience, Michael quickly became a leader in the field. After starting at Tilson in 2018 through TIRAP, Michael worked his way through the Tower Tech ranks, and was finally promoted to Tower Foreman this past year.
Ryan Roegge, Market Manager at Tilson and Michael’s manager, said that he is an exemplary leader because, “Michael leads by example and is always willing to go the extra mile, never asking something of someone he wouldn’t do himself. He consistently has a great attitude and I have never once heard him gripe or complain.”
An important aspect of Michael’s training to become a Foreman was being taught to prioritize safety. Michael said, “Tilson has always come off to me as putting safety above all things. It is also very nice to have a safety team that you can call at any time about anything, and they will help you figure something out.” Tilson’s safety team works closely with new team members to establish career-long skills in safety best-practices to ensure accident prevention and zero workplace injuries.
When asked what advice he would give to potential tower professionals and who should apply, Michael says:
“If you apply yourself and learn the job, the opportunities to advance are always there. A good candidate is someone that is hungry to learn something new. Staying physically fit makes this job much easier and safer for everyone. Someone with the type of attitude that is always learning and growing, no matter how much experience or knowledge they already have. In this industry, there is a lot of room to learn and grow.”
Some industry estimates believe careers in wireless construction will exceed over 25,000 new jobs in the next several years. With over a dozen open tower tech positions across the country, Tilson is a great place to explore and join like-minded individuals committed to building America’s information infrastructure. If you are interested in starting your career as a Tower Tech or learning more about this in-demand career field, visit our careers page to apply or reach out to our recruiting team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.