If you’ve ever signed up for the Internet or cable services, you’ve likely come across the term fiber optics. What does it really mean, and does it impact performance? Fiber optics are the staple of modern telecommunication. These thin, flexible wires send light signals to one another to deliver information to consumers. These lines are about as thin as a human hair and transmit signals at the speed of light. A fiber optics technician installs and maintains these incredible structures, ensuring that we all stay connected to the world around us.
What Does a Fiber Optics Technician Do?
A certified fiber optics technician installs and services fiber optic systems in communities, homes, and commercial buildings. They can work on connecting services in residential properties as well as large-scale facilities like hospitals and universities. Everyone needs to be connected to the Internet, and when connectivity slows, it can be critical for business. This is where a fiber optics technician comes into play.
In addition to installing fiber optics systems, a fiber optics technician also repairs faulty wires and their electrical components. In their daily jobs, a fiber optic technician may:
- Consult with new clients about problems they’re experiencing and offer solutions
- Install fiber optic wires and set up connections to Internet and cable networks
- Troubleshoot and repair any damages
- Resolve common problems with excellent customer service
- Run Internet speed tests to ensure a client’s connection is functioning at optimum capacity
- Measure cable connections to diagnose and optimize performance.
There are two main types of fiber optic technicians: premises and outside plant. A premises fiber optic technician works mostly inside, installing and repairing systems in homes and buildings. Outdoor plant technicians are situated outdoors, and they often climb utility poles to work on cables. Exterior wires are meant to withstand the harshness of the elements, but they can fall, tear or be damaged by inclement weather. Because they are hosted outside, they’re also more likely to wear out sooner and require more routine maintenance.
One of the benefits of becoming a fiber optics technician is the choice of working environment. If you like working with customers and moving around frequently, then premises installation and servicing might be right for you. Someone who enjoys more physical labor and wants to work with more complex systems could enjoy being an outside plant technician.
How Do You Become a Fiber Optics Technician?
Regardless of what type of fiber optics technician you want to become, you must first complete high school and graduate from a fiber optics training program. These programs prepare you for one of the fiber optic certifications necessary to work in the field. There are five internationally recognized certifications for fiber optics technicians. All of these are governed and regulated by the Fiber Optic Association (FOA).
CFOT Certified Fiber Optic Technician
This is the standard certification for any aspiring fiber optics tech. As the premiere accreditation credential, CFOT will enable you to work in all general fiber optic services.
CPCT Certified Premises Cabling Technician
The CPCT certification is for anyone who wishes to work on premises cable networks. With this certification, you can work as a designer, installer, and operator of any premises cable system.
CFOS/H Certified Fiber Optics Specialist
Someone with CFOS/H certification can work in general fiber optics, but they are experts in installing Fiber to the Home (FTTH) or optical LANs (OLANs). These Internet specialists are the go-to for residential Internet fiber optic installations and repairs.
CFOS/S Certified Fiber Optics Specialist
The “S” in CFOS/S stands for splicing. This certification allows someone to work as an outside fiber optic plant technician. Their work focuses on preparing, arranging, installing, and splicing various interconnected wires.
CFOS/T Certified Fiber Optics Technician
If you enjoy diagnostics, then this certification may be the right choice for you. The “T” in this certification denotes testing expertise; someone with this credential can perform comprehensive tests and diagnostic analyses on a variety of fiber optic networks.
What Do You Learn in a Fiber Optics Technician Program?
Before you can become certified, you must first learn all the techniques, equipment and skills required to be a fiber optics technician. Our school’s Fiber Optics for Professionals (FFP) program prepares you to take the five FOA certifications and become skilled technicians and specialists.
No prior knowledge is required to begin studying. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED. If you meet these criteria, then you are ready to begin the exciting process of learning all about fiber optics. From cable preparation techniques, like patch panel or splice closure, to reflection testing and diagnostics procedures, our courses give you a well-rounded skill set for fiber optics.
Below are a few of the subjects you will learn throughout your fiber optics professional training.
Basics of Fiber Optic Technology
How do fiber optics work? In FO 101, you are introduced to basic optical theory and principles of lightwave technology. You learn the basics of fiber optics applications and proper lab safety that will serve you throughout the rest of the program. Labs give you a controlled environment to test your skills and get feedback from expert instructors.
FTTx Applications and Uses
Fiber to the x (FTTx) describes the general architecture of a fiber-based network. You learn all about how FTTx has evolved since its inception, modern applications, and types of FTTx structures.
Through hands-on lab experiments and exercises, you will explore the technician aspects of FTTx networks and work with different components such as splitters and wavelength division multiplexers. The design, hardware and specialized safety protocols are all introduced in a sequential order to help you build confidence as you work through exercises.
Premises Cable Installation Basics
In CPCT 110, you learn the equipment, tools, and techniques necessary for installing wired Ethernet and wireless internet connections. Wi-Fi fuels modern society, so a fiber optics technician must know how to install connections and diagnose common connectivity issues.
You will learn how to install cables and wireless access points in accordance with industry standards. You will also draw upon basic fiber optics knowledge and begin to put your skills to the test as you work through cable installation labs.
Advanced Fiber Optics
FFP 104 and 105 are advanced training courses that help you master specialized techniques in cable splitting and splicing. You will learn how to work with various types of splicing equipment and hardware such as an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR). As you build upon what you have learned, you will be able to hone particular skill sets and prepare to become certified as a fiber optics technician.
Want to Learn More?
Now that you know what a fiber optics technician does, it is time to learn more about ATA College. The Fiber Optics for Professionals (FFP) program prepares you to be competent in Fiber Optics technology through classroom training and practical hands-on application. You will learn cable preparation (patch panel or splice closure), fusion splicing, optical loss, reflection testing, and Optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) operations. You will also have the opportunity to test for five certifications from the Fiber Optics Association (FOA).
Contact us today to learn more about fiber optics technician career opportunities offered at ATA College.