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Cable Inspector Jobs: Options and Requirements

Cable inspectors require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and necessary experience to see if this is the right career for you.

Cable inspectors may work as electrical power-line installers or telecommunications line installers. Both professions require only a high school diploma or GED. The median salary for an electrical power-line installer is about $66,000, while telecommunications line installers can expect to earn about $53,000.

Essential Information

Cable inspectors maintain power grids and telecommunications networks by testing, repairing, and replacing electrical and fiber-optic wiring. They are expected to have a high school diploma and complete an apprenticeship or training course.

Career Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers
Required Education High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements Apprenticeships are common entry points Certificate and associate's degree programs are available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%* 1%*
Median Salary (2015) $66,450* $52,920*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options for Cable Inspectors

Also called line repairers, cable technicians, and linemen, cable inspectors can generally be divided into two general fields: electrical wiring and telecommunications wiring. In both fields, line repairers maintain existing networks by monitoring with special equipment, performing visual inspections, troubleshooting to isolate malfunctions, and then repairing or replacing faulty lines and equipment. They may be required to string new lengths of cable through underground trenches, ducts, and between elevated poles and towers.

Electrical line repairers work with high-voltage power transmission lines. Duties include testing lines using voltage meters, insulating wires, and soldering connections. Electrical line repairers are also responsible for maintaining equipment along the power grid, such as voltage regulators, transformers, and switches.

Telecommunications line repairers inspect and maintain fiber-optic cable and low-voltage voice/data/video wires utilized by telephone companies, cable television, and Internet service providers. Regular duties include using signal generators and meters to test signal strength, stripping and splicing fiber-optic cable, replacing faulty wiring, and maintaining equipment, such as amplifiers and repeaters.

Requirements to Become a Cable Inspector

Employers generally require applicants who have earned a high school diploma or passed the GED test. Electrical line inspectors and repairers commonly complete formal apprenticeship programs, which combine classroom courses with on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced cable inspectors. Vocational schools, professional trade associations, and unions offer apprenticeships that last three to five years.

Community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs in telecommunications or electronics technology for individuals seeking work as a telecommunications cable inspector. Relevant coursework includes circuitry, networking principles, fiber optics, and wireless communications.

Both fields require physical fitness. Cable inspectors can work outdoors, indoors, at elevated heights, and in confined crawl spaces. Inspectors can be required to carry loads up to 100 lbs. and need to be familiar with all electrical safety regulations.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of electrical power-line installers and repairers is expected to grow by 11% between 2014-2024, while telecommunications line installers and repairers jobs are only expected to increase by 1%. In May 2015, the BLS reported median salaries of $66,450 for electrical power-line installers and repairers, and $52,920 for telecommunications line installers and repairers.

Cable inspectors require only a high school diploma or GED. They may be required to complete an apprenticeship, or can receive training through courses at a community college. The job outlook for electrical power-line installers is faster than the job market, while it is slower than the market for telecommunications line installers.

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