What Does a Fiber Optics Technician or Cable Technician Do?
Not every worker makes information more accessible, but a fiber optics technician certainly does.
A fiber optics technician — also called a cable technician, cable installer or telecommunications technician — designs, installs, operates, maintains and repairs telecommunication networks for high-speed internet, television and telephone services. This involves different types of cables used to transfer data, primarily fiber optic cables but also copper cables. (Fiber optics technology uses sheathed glass threads to transmit light.)
Technicians design cabling systems that connect the network, and they also run the cables. Some technicians specialize in installing the cable while others specialize in troubleshooting.
Technology is constantly changing, and this career is on the cutting edge of that trend. If you’re interested in a career that requires only one or two years of training for a substantial paycheck, keep reading to learn more.
- Install telecommunication cables, including in trenches and difficult-to-reach places
- Inspect and repair fiber optic cables and other types of cables
- Protect optical fiber from the elements and keep clean
- Create networking plans, including layout, installation and testing
- Troubleshoot lines and networking equipment
- Check signal strength across all elements of the network
Becoming a Fiber Optics Technician: FAQs
What are the requirements to become a fiber optic technician?
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent for entry-level positions. Technical schools and community colleges offer one- and two-year programs focusing on electronics, telecommunications and computer technology.
Course topics include electricity, fiber installation standards and fiber optic theory. Hands-on learning for optics installers includes fusion, splicing and terminating of cables as well as optical loss testing. Longer training programs may also include courses in microwave transmission.
Some companies provide manufacturer-specific training, which consists of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Industry groups, trade unions and schools frequently provide opportunities for continuing education.
Are there any other additional qualifications?
A commercial driver’s license may be required because technicians often drive work vehicles.
Certification is available from several associations, including the Fiber Optic Association (FOA). Although not required, certifications and continued education can be a smart way to let employers know you serious about learning and advancing in the industry.
Some common certifications include Fiber Optics Installer (FOI), Fiber Optics Technician (FOTC), Certified Network Cable Installer (CNCI), Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT) and BICSI Technician (BICSI) certification. Other options include manufacturer-specific certifications, such as Panduit certifications for installers.
Where do fiber optic technicians and cable technicians work?
Just about everyone needs to be connected, which is why telecommunications technicians work everywhere. They set up systems that serve residential and business customers, including schools and hospitals. They may work for utilities, telecommunication companies or construction companies.
If your cable or internet service has ever gone down, you know that fiber optic and cable technicians also answer emergency calls. They work indoors and outdoors to make sure the problem is solved. Frequently, they use a bucket truck to reach the cables, but all fiber optics and cable technicians must be able to climb the poles where the lines are typically attached.
Is there a demand for this line of work?
As communities grow, so does the need for fiber optics technicians.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Successful fiber optics technicians and cable technicians share these traits:
- Good at troubleshooting
- Adept at creating plans or layouts and executing them
- Good with hand tools
- Enjoy working outdoors
- Not bothered by heights or confined spaces
- Safety-conscious, especially around high-voltage lines
- Good communication skills to work with customers and team members
- Interest and knowledge in technology