Should I Become a Cable and Fiber Optic Technician?
Cable and fiber optic technicians install and fix telecommunication cables, including fiber optic cables. Their job duties may include inspecting and testing cable equipment, identifying malfunctioning equipment and laying cable lines. This profession has some inherent dangers, such as working in confined spaces or sometimes extreme weather. Some night and weekend hours may be required as well.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; optional apprenticeships and certificate programs are available|
|Degree Field||Broadband cable, broadband technology|
|Certification||Voluntary certification available; may be offered by an apprenticeship|
|Key Skills||Technical, trouble-shooting and mechanical skills; knowledge of computers and electronics; ability to use a variety of tools, such as signal generators, stripping tools and trenching machines; may require use of some spreadsheet software programs|
|Additional Requirements||Physical strength and stamina, color vision, commercial driver's license|
|Salary||$54,430 (2014 average salary for all telecommunications line installers and repairers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arapahoe Community College and North Seattle Community College, National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, Myfuture.com (U.S. Department of Defense), O*Net OnLine
Step 1: Complete a Cable and Fiber Optic Technician Apprenticeship Program
Aspiring cable and fiber optic technicians may participate in an apprenticeship program to learn about the trade. An apprenticeship usually consists of both classroom instruction and on-the-job training. The apprentice's employer provides both of these, and participants are paid for their training time. Eligibility requirements for apprenticeship participation usually include being 17-18 years old, possessing a high school diploma and passing pre-employment drug testing.
Apprenticeship programs are offered through state agencies as well as through private organizations, though they may not be available everywhere. Programs can take 3-5 years to complete and include 480-900 hours of classroom instruction, along with 7,000-8,000 hours of on-the-job training. Some programs allow participants to earn certifications, such as Journeyman Wireman.
- Develop communication skills. Cable and fiber optic technicians may need to work with other technicians or the general public. Developing communication skills can make these interactions easier, faster and more successful.
Step 2: Earn Certification
Certifications are available from the Fiber Optic Association and Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers. Examples of available certifications include the Certified Fiber Optic Technician, Certified Premises Cabling Technician, Broadband Premises Expert and Internet Protocol Engineering Professional. Earning these certifications usually requires passing an exam.
Step 3: Consider Earning a Certificate
Community colleges typically offer certificate programs in broadband cable or technology. These programs consist of about 25 credit hours of study in courses like testing and maintenance, system technician, introduction to broadband and interpersonal communication for the workplace. A certificate could increase the chances of being noticed by a potential employer.