How to Become a Cable Installer: Education and Career Guide

Learn how to become a cable installer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in cable installation.

Should I Become a Cable Installer?

A cable installer travels to customers' homes or businesses to install telecommunications equipment that broadcasts signals for services such as television, telephone and the Internet. Installations might take place in established residences or in new constructions. Safety precautions must be taken to prevent shocks and minor falls. Work in awkward and cramped positions is common. The following table contains essential qualifications needed to become a cable installer:

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required, though employers increasingly prefer a certificate or associate's degree
Degree Field Electronics repair or a related field
Certification Certain positions require certification, which is available through various professional organizations
Key Skills Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems, color vision, manual dexterity, strong customer service skills and bookkeeping skills, familiarity with workforce management software, ping tools and customer relationship management software, must be able to work with cable reels, shears, stripping tools and trenching machines
Salary $54,450 per year (Median salary from May, 2014)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings (October 2012), O*Net OnLine

Step 1: Meet the Education Requirements

While individuals can enter the cable installation field with only a high school diploma, employers are beginning to prefer candidates who have completed a postsecondary education program related to electronics. This is due to the growing complexity and rapid expansion of the telecommunications industry. Individuals may learn valuable skills by enrolling in a certificate or a 2-year associate's degree program in electronics technology or repair. A certificate in electronics repair, for example, teaches students about AC and DC circuits, applied mathematics and problem analysis.

Success Tip:

  • Learn about computers. Along with knowledge of cable equipment and installation procedures, these workers need to have proficiency in the closely-related computer technology field. Aspiring cable installer can get an edge over the competition by taking courses in computer science or familiarizing themselves with software and hardware on their own.

Step 2: Complete On-the-Job Training

After earning an education and securing an entry-level position, most cable installers complete on-the-job training that can last up to three months. During this training, they learn the specific practices and equipment utilized by their employing companies. Trainees complete lower-level tasks under the supervision of experienced technicians and, with experience, advance to more complex duties. Some employers also send employees to training programs administered by telecommunications technology organizations or equipment manufacturers.

Step 3: Continue to Learn

Since technology in this field changes rapidly, cable installers should seek continuing education opportunities to stay abreast of advancements. This can involve reading equipment manuals on one's own and pursuing supplementary training sessions through educational institutions or industry organizations. The SCTE offers a range of technical courses in topics like basic cable technology and cable networking. In fact, completion of such courses counts toward the continuing education required for SCTE certification maintenance.

Step 4: Earn certification

Cable installers who want to prove their knowledge, gain recognition for their skills or advance their career opportunities may consider earning certification. Additionally, some jurisdictions and employers require that these workers hold certification. Various organizations, such as the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), certify cable installers. The SCTE, for example, awards the Broadband Premises Installer and Broadband Premises Technician credentials. Earning one of these certifications requires passage of a 50-question examination.

Success Tip:

  • Keep your certification current. To maintain their credentials, SCTE-certified cable installers must earn 12 recertification units every three years. These units can be earned by participating in approved events, like workshops, conferences and chapter meetings.

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