Fiber optic cables must be fused in such a way that no interruption in the transfer of telecommunications data occurs. Telecommunications companies rely on splicing technicians to install and maintain fiber optic cables. On-the-job training is common, but some people complete certificate programs or take relevant vocational courses to prepare for this work.
Fiber optic splicing technicians are also known as telecommunications line installers and repairers. They can specialize in fiber optic cables, which are used in phone, television and data networks. Linemen splice and terminate fiber optic cables while maintaining fiber optic networks. Linemen are required to have a high school diploma or GED at minimum before receiving on-the-job training, though formal education programs in the field are also available.
|Required Education||A high school diploma and on-the-job training OR a certificate or postsecondary coursework in electronics, fiber optics or telecommunications technology|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||1% (for telecommunications line repairers and installers)|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$52,920 (for telecommunications line repairers and installers)|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Duties of Fiber Optic Linemen
Fiber optic cables, which are commonly made of glass and transmit signals using light, are utilized by the telecommunications industry to carry phone, television and Internet data, and are handled by line installers and repairers. These technicians specialize in splicing and terminating fiber optic cables to expand telecommunications networks into new areas or to replace existing lines. They also troubleshoot and perform maintenance to resolve signal problems.
The installation process involves stringing cable between elevated towers and poles or laying lines underground. Fiber optic linemen use construction equipment, such as plows, trenchers, borers and winches to dig trenches, either to lay underground cable or to install poles. Linemen also install terminal boxes, insulation, and other auxiliary equipment, such as signal amplifiers and repeaters. Installation also includes stringing wire throughout a home or commercial building. Once installed, linemen test the line's signal strength.
Linemen performing maintenance and repair work examine lines and use electrical equipment to test for damage. They may troubleshoot a line to locate a fault and splice in new line to replace damaged cable.
Requirements to Become a Fiber Optic Installer and Repairer
Telecommunications and utilities companies provide on-the-job training and require applicants to have a high school diploma or a GED. Though not required, certificate programs or post-secondary coursework in electronics, fiber optics and telecommunications technology can enhance employment opportunities.
Fiber optic installation and repair demands physical fitness, with some companies requiring employees handle loads of up to 50 lbs. or more. Workers may need to become proficient with construction equipment and work in both confined and elevated spaces, such as crawl spaces and catwalks. Proficiency with hand tools, including cable jacket strippers, crimpers and diagnostic equipment is essential.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that telecommunications line installers and repairers, including those who specialize in fiber optic splicing, earned a median annual salary of $52,920 as of May 2015. This group of workers is projected to increase by 1% over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.
Although there will be slow growth in the percentage of available positions for fiber optic technicians, this does not necessarily mean that the job market will be unfavorable. However, holding an associate's degree or completing an apprenticeship may help prove to employers that an applicant has the qualifications and skills for the job.