How to Become a Cable Television (CATV) Technician

Aug 03, 2018

Learn how to become a cable television (CATV) technician. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career as a CATV technician.

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  • 0:04 CATV Technician Career Info
  • 1:23 Get Training
  • 2:08 Complete Apprenticeship
  • 2:40 Earn Certification
  • 3:19 Continue Education

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CATV Technician Career Info

A cable television (CATV) technician installs, repairs and troubleshoots cable company products, such as cable, telephone and Internet services. The job is physically demanding and requires climbing telephone poles, lifting objects or fitting into confined spaces. Outdoor work is often required.

Employers typically prefer to hire technicians with at least a high school diploma and a valid driver's license. Voluntary certification is available but isn't necessary for entry-level positions. These technicians should have visual acuity, physical strength, stamina, troubleshooting skills and proficiency with complex diagnostic equipment and tools to fix sophisticated electrical systems.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities in the field will be slower than average compared to other occupations over the 2014-2024 decade. In 2015, the BLS found that telecommunications equipment installers and repairers earned a median annual salary of $54,570.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Degree not required, but formal postsecondary training is helpful
Degree Fields Telecommunications or a related field
Certification Voluntary certification is available from the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee and the Fiber Optic Association
Experience One to two years of experience beneficial or sometimes required
Key Skills Visual acuity, physical strength, stamina and troubleshooting skills; proficiency with ping tools, complex diagnostic equipment, tools to fix sophisticated electrical systems and workforce and customer relationship management software
Salary (2015) $54,570 per year (Median salary for all telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online, Multiple job posts from October 2012

Step 1: Get Training

Employers look for prospective cable television technicians who have skills in mathematics, writing and reading. Students might want to consider taking some postsecondary courses in these subjects, in addition to ones that cover electrical systems, fiber optics and electronics. Prospective technicians can enroll in certificate programs in telecommunications, electronics or electricity.

Success Tip:

  • Consider completing a telecommunications certificate program. A certificate program in telecommunications usually takes about a semester to complete and covers what you'll need to know as a CATV technician. Course options may include splicing fiber optics, cable splicing and locating cable faults.

Step 2: Complete Apprenticeship

Individuals may choose to enter a telecommunications apprenticeship program instead of or in addition to attending a college program. An apprenticeship program offers classroom training in areas such as fiber optics, safety, audio and electrical theory. The apprentice also receives paid, on-the-job training and shadows an experienced technician while performing supervised duties. Apprenticeships are offered through colleges, cable companies or professional organizations.

Step 3: Earn Certification

Although it isn't mandatory, certification for cable television technicians is available from several associations. The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee provides a cable splicing certification for telecommunications installers and repairers. To earn certification, an individual needs to have two years of work experience in the field, and then pass the written and practical exams. In addition, the Fiber Optic Association offers various professional certifications, such as the Certified Fiber Optic Technician and Certified Fiber Optic Specialist designations.

Step 4: Continue Education

Stay up-to-date with the latest technological developments to maintain your credentials. To keep certification current, you must renew it every couple of years. The duration of your valid Certified Fiber Optic Technician and Certified Fiber Optic Specialist designations varies between certifications.

Once again, a cable television (CATV) technician does not necessarily need a degree but might complete some postsecondary courses in telecommunication, or an apprenticeship, before going on to get hands on experience in the field.

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