Certificate programs include hands-on courses related to electronics maintenance and circuits. Graduates of these three-semester or less programs may go on to careers as network cabling specialists or installers.
Associate degree programs in networking technology also include courses in computer network cabling. Courses topics may include network security, electronics, and network operating systems. After completing this two-year program, students may consider careers as network technicians, network cabling installers or computer technicians.
Both programs will require students to have a high school diploma or GED to enroll.
Network Cabling Technician Certificate
Network cabling certificate programs prepare students for careers installing and repairing telecommunications cables and fiber optics. They typically combine a theoretical foundation of the telecommunications field with practical skill development on fiber-optic and copper-based networks. Because these jobs can include physically demanding tasks, such as digging trenches and lifting cables, students should be in good physical health.
Students learn about computer systems and electricity in order to support information technology professionals while collaborating on large projects. Course topics generally include:
- Alternating current
- Direct current
- Circuit theory
- Electrical maintenance
- Network topology
- Technical math
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Associate of Science in Networking Technology
These programs prepare students for careers designing, installing, and maintaining networking systems for including computer networks. Since industry professionals are required to terminate lines underground and repair damage after storms, these preparatory programs are hands-on in nature.
Programs train students to build, test, maintain, and operate networking systems in the telecommunications field. Course offerings include topics such as:
- Cabling systems
- Network security
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 106,360 line installation and repair professionals working in the telecommunications field as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Professionals working in the field should feel comfortable working in confined spaces or while physically elevated, though non-field service jobs are also available. Certificate holders can find work with Internet service providers, telephone companies and manufacturers who specialize in communications equipment. Job options include:
- Customer service representatives
- Installation technicians
- Network cabling specialists
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS employment forecast for 2014 to 2024 showed that telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, excluding line installers, were projected to experience a 4% decrease in job opportunities, much slower than average. Employment of line installers and repairers was expected to grow by 6% in that same time period. As of May 2015 the median annual salary for telecommunications line installers and repairers was $52,920.
Continuing Education Information
Bachelor's and master's degrees in information technology are available to students interested in managerial careers. Some schools offer online education and some have specifically designed programs to suit the needs of budding network administrators.
Certificate and associate programs exist in network cabling and network technology fields, respectively, teaching students the skills needed to safely and efficiently install, repair, or replace network cables and lines. Bachelor's and master's degree are available for students wishing to pursue higher education and greater job opportunities.