How to Become a Fiber Optics Technician
The future of the internet is fiber optic. The demand for bandwidth and internet access to remote areas continues to soar so will the need for qualified technicians to install these cables. However, you may be confused about how much technical proficiency and certifications are required to attain a position in this growing sector of the telecommunications industry. While a background in coaxial cabling may be a good start in this field, in many ways it is just like starting over with equipment that requires a greater degree of care and completely distinct standards of installation.
What Do Fiber Optics Technicians Do?
These professionals are responsible for the installation and repair of fiber optic cables, creating and maintaining high-speed communications. Job duties include laying cable lines, testing connections, and troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment. Challenges of this profession may include working with electronics and construction equipment in inclement weather as well as working at great heights or in confined spaces. It is not an entry-level position and requires a high degree of technical expertise and understanding of communications and signal flow.
A Growing Field With Limitless Opportunity
The largest telecommunications companies are currently in a state of aggressive expansion of fiber optic networks. Telecom giants such as AT&T and Comcast are in the midst of a virtual bonanza in their regional competitions while Google Fiber seeks to transform economically troubled areas into fully-connected "gig cities" to attract technical professionals and services. The possibilities are intriguing, but this translates to a once in a lifetime financial opportunity for those with the most qualified personnel.
Basic Qualifications For Fiber Optics Technicians
A fiber optics technician needs to possess the following qualifications
Technical knowledge of communications networks
Troubleshooting and mechanical skills
Fundamental knowledge of computers and associated electronic systems
Skill with a variety of hand tools and power tools
Ability to operate large equipment
May need to possess a commercial driver's license
Educational Requirements for Fiber Optics Technicians
While some opportunities exist for those with a high school diploma to learn this trade in an apprenticeship program or in the military, for those choose not to take this route, other paths exist. The most efficient way to enter this job field is a professional technical preparation course that focuses on getting students ready to attain the certifications required of all fiber optics technicians.
Certificate programs in broadband cable and technology can be completed relatively quickly. A typical program consists of around 25 credit hours, less than half of the requirement for an associates degree. These courses include practical demonstrations of necessary skills such as testing and maintenance of cables, introductions to standard principles of communications, and other technical skills required for successful installation of communications equipment.
The certifications earned from these programs include the following certificates:
Certified Fiber Optics Technician (FOT)
Certified Fiber Optics Designer (FOD)
Data Cabling Installer Certification (DCIC)
Certified Military Fiber Optics Installation Professional (MFOI)
Which certification is best for an employee depends upon the technical position that they are applying for but in general, a Certified Fiber Optics Technician (FOT) is a great entry certification for starting techs. It has a prerequisite of Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) FOI certification but is the fundamental building block of a career in a fiber optics installation and maintenance career. The course includes the certification exam on the last day of the course and is a streamlined way of attaining certification.
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