Updated December 2022
When we pick up our phones, power up our computers, or turn on our TVs, we usually just expect that they will connect to a network that lets them share information. But without the efforts of network cabling specialists, none of that would be possible.
Network cabling specialists are the skilled pros who set up and maintain the structured cabling systems that allow for the transmission of video, voice, and data.
Interested in a career in this field? Wondering what it takes to become a network cabling specialist?
Here are five steps you can take to get started.
1. BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT NETWORK CABLING SPECIALISTS DO
The first step is to make sure you really understand the role.
Network cabling specialists build and manage low-voltage communication systems in all kinds of buildings. They install, test, maintain, and repair the telecommunications infrastructure that supports internet, telephone, satellite, and cable TV services.
The cabling systems they work with can also support things like Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting, security cameras, and building access controls.
As a network cabling specialist, you can expect to be responsible for tasks like:
☑️ Interpreting blueprints, installation diagrams, and manuals
☑️ Identifying a building’s grounding and bonding system
☑️ Selecting wiring closets
☑️ Installing jacks, wallboard adapters, and outlet boxes
☑️ Selecting the appropriate type of cable (coaxial, fibre optic, etc.)
☑️ Mounting, pulling, terminating, and splicing cables
☑️ Testing cables
☑️ Troubleshooting issues
☑️ Maintaining good client relations
2. RESEARCH DEMAND FOR NETWORK CABLING SPECIALISTS IN YOUR AREA
Before you commit to any career, it’s wise to find out if jobs are readily available where you live. So what does the outlook for network cabling specialists look like?
The Government of Canada Job Bank expects demand for telecommunications line and cable workers to remain steady both in Toronto and throughout Ontario.
It says continued population growth coupled with the increased use of higher-bandwidth applications should create opportunities in this field.
Plus, as more people work from home, demand for faster residential internet services is likely to grow.
According to Ontario government estimates, as many as 1,000 network cabling jobs should open up across the province between 2021 and 2025.
3. EXPLORE NETWORK CABLING CAREER OPTIONS
Think about where you’d like to end up. Network cabling specialists can find opportunities with:
☑️ Construction firms
☑️ Telecommunications carriers
☑️ Data centre networks
☑️ Electric power utilities
☑️ IT firms and electrical product companies
Because network cabling is so closely related to electrical work, some specialists pursue training in both trades (more on that next). That effectively doubles your job options.
4. CHOOSE A TRAINING PROGRAM
There are two routes you can take to a network cabling career.
1) You can complete network cabling training in 24 weeks. It focuses on practical skills, such as how to:
☑️ Follow network design documentation
☑️ Work with different types of cable
☑️ Pull, route, mount, strip, and terminate cables
☑️ Install cables, jacks, outlet boxes, and wall plates
☑️ Use testing equipment
☑️ Stay safe on the job
2) The other option is to take a program that combines network cabling and electrical work. This type of cabling specialist course takes 42 weeks to complete.
Coursework includes all of the above plus training in laying out, installing, testing, troubleshooting, and repairing electrical wiring and components.
5. DECIDE WHETHER TO PURSUE CERTIFICATION
In Ontario, network cabling specialist is what’s known as a voluntary trade.
That means you don’t have to become certified to work in this field. You can go straight to work after completing your cabling technician course.
However, some employers will only hire network cabling specialists who have their Certificate of Qualification. To get your C of Q, you need to complete an apprenticeship. This takes about 2.5 years and involves 4,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and 600 hours of in-class learning.
Once you successfully finish all that, you must pass an exam.
The bottom line: Certification is optional, but it can open more doors, so consider your options carefully.
INTERESTED IN BECOMING A NETWORK CABLING SPECIALIST?
Quality training is the foundation of any network cabling career.
Herzing College offers a Network Cabling Technician program that can get you career-ready in just 24 weeks.
Or you can make yourself even more valuable to employers by developing skills in the electrical trade as well, through our 42-week Combined Electrician and Network Cabling program. Graduates can go straight into the network cabling job market or begin an apprenticeship to work towards certification.
Both programs are available in both Toronto and Cambridge.
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