Line Installers and Cable Splicers
Education and Training Requirements
You'll need math courses (especially algebra and trigonometry) to prepare for the technical nature of this career. While in high school you should also take any shop classes that will teach you the principles of electricity and how to work with it. In addition, you will benefit from taking any classes that deal with electricity at a vocational or technical college in your area. Other high school shop classes, such as Introduction to Machinery and Mechanical Systems, will give you the opportunity to work with tools and improve your hand-eye coordination. Science classes that involve lab work will also be beneficial. Take computer classes so that you will be able to use this tool in your professional life. Because you may be frequently interacting with customers, take English, speech, and other courses that will help you develop communication skills.
Many companies prefer to hire applicants with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Although specific educational courses are not required, you'll need certain qualifications. It is helpful to have some knowledge of the basic principles of electricity and the procedures involved in line installation; such information can be obtained through attending technical programs or having been a member of the armed forces.
Many employers prefer to hire applicants who have completed a trade school or technical program that offers classes in technology such as fiber optics. Training can also be obtained through special classes offered through trade associations. The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) offers seminars that provide hands-on, technical training. Other employers seek applicants who have earned an associate’s degree in telecommunications, electronics, or electricity. These programs offer courses in electronics, electricity, fiber optics, and microwave transmission.
In other companies, entry-level employees (especially those who work in the electrical industry) must complete a formal apprenticeship program combining classroom instruction with supervised on-the-job training. These programs often last up to three years and are administered by both the employer and the union representing the employees. The programs may involve computer-assisted instruction as well as hands-on experience with simulated environments. Those working for telephone and cable television companies receive several years of on-the-job training.
Other Education or Training
The Fiber Optic Association offers Fiber U, an online learning Web site that helps technicians prepare for certification exams or simply increase their level of knowledge. Some of its recent study programs focused on the basics of fiber optics, premises cabling, and fiber optic testing. The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, Electrical Training ALLIANCE, Telecommunications Industry Association, and Women in Cable Telecommunications also provide continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Though not a requirement for employment, certification demonstrates to employers that a line installer has achieved a certain level of technical training and has been proven qualified to perform certain functions. The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers offers several certification designations to applicants who show technical knowledge and practical skills by passing both multiple-choice and essay-based examinations. The Fiber Optic Association offers 13 different certifications, including certified fiber optic technician, certified premises cabling technician, and certified fiber optic specialist. The Electronics Technicians Association International offers several certifications in fiber optics. The Telecommunications Industry Association offers a certification program for technicians working in convergence technologies, and iNARTE offers certification for technicians employed in the telecommunications industry. The Electrical Training ALLIANCE—an organization that is sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association—offers certification for cable splicers and other professionals.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
There is no way to obtain direct experience installing, maintaining, and repairing the vast network of wires and cables that transmit electric power and voice, video, and Internet communications while in high school, but a solid background in mathematics, shop, and science will be helpful. Most line installers and cable splicers learn their skills via on-the-job training or an apprenticeship.
You'll need manual dexterity and to be in good physical shape. Much of your work will involve climbing poles and ladders, so you'll need to feel comfortable with heights. You also need to be strong in order to carry heavy equipment up poles and ladders. Also, because lines and cables are color coded, you should have the ability to distinguish such colors. You may have extensive contact with the public and need to be polite and courteous.
Employers may also give preemployment tests to applicants to determine verbal, mechanical, and mathematical aptitudes; some employers test applicants for such physical qualifications as stamina, balance, coordination, and strength. Workers who drive a company vehicle need a driver's license and a good driving record.