If you’re thinking about starting a trades career, you’re probably looking for a trade that matches your natural skills and interests—and has good employment prospects where you live.
You need to make sure your investment in trades training will pay off. And that means doing some research on which jobs are most in demand, and which of those trades are a good fit for you.
This week we’re spotlighting the network cabling field. This trade has seen stable employment in Ontario over the last several years, with positive outlooks for the future.
It’s also a “voluntary trade”, which means you don’t need to do an apprenticeship and get certified to work in the field.
Training for network cabling specialists is quick, there are several different job options out there, and you can even start your own business.
Is becoming a network cabling specialist right for you? Here’s what you need to know to make a smart decision.
What Exactly is a Network Cabling Specialist?
Network cabling specialists install, repair, and maintain telecommunication lines and cables. They work with various types and sizes of cables including single line, coaxial and fiber optic.
Network cabling specialists do installation and repair of internet, telephone lines, cable television, and satellite television. They are employed by several kinds of organizations, including:
- telecommunications carriers
- construction firms
- network installation companies
- data center networks
- internet providers
- IT firms and electrical product companies
What’s the Job Outlook for Network Cabling Specialists in Ontario?
The latest Government of Canada Career Outlook Report says demand for network cabling specialist has been stable in Ontario for the past several years.
The forecast calls for moderate employment growth, with a boost from increased demand for internet service, fiber-optic networks, and steady commercial and residential construction.
“The growing population, commercial base in Ontario, as well as increased federal investment in internet infrastructure, will add job openings for telecommunication and cable services.”
What’s Involved in Network Cabling Training?
Network cabling training is a relatively short program. At Herzing, our course takes just 24 weeks to complete. It’s broken down into 11 modules, covering the following theory and skills:
- Introduction to optical and wireless signals, and basic electrical theory
- Fiber-optic cables, connectors, and systems
- How to prepare and test cable connections
- Terminating cables, and installing jacks and wall plates
- Cabling rough-in (how to pull and route cable throughout a building)
- Small business management (basic accounting, marketing, and customer service)
- Doing estimates and takeoffs, materials pricelists, dealing with subcontractors and suppliers
- Conducting site surveys, estimating costs, preparing bid proposals
- Safety standards and practices for network cabling specialists
The training builds toward a major final project, where students use all the skills they’ve learned to complete a cabling installation independently.
You’ll also work with a career development specialist to prepare your resume, do mock interviews, and apply to network cabling jobs in your area.
Career development is a key part of the training process, to help students make a smooth transition into employment.
Network cabling student works on cable terminations and patch panels at Herzing College
Do you need to get certified to become a Network Cabling Specialist?
No. You do not need an apprenticeship and Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) to become a network cabling specialist in Ontario.
This is not a compulsory trade. It is what’s known as a voluntary trade. What does that mean? It means you can choose whether or not to get certified.
The Ontario College of Trades does have an apprenticeship and certification pathway for network cabling specialists. It involves:
- 4,000 hours of on-the-job work experience
- 600 hours of in-school training
- Approximately 2.5 years total (compared to 5 years for most skilled trades)
However, you can also just do the 24-week training program, and go straight to work in the industry.
So, why would someone bother to go through the apprenticeship and certification process? It can give you a bit of an edge when applying for some jobs.
Some companies use certification as a screening process when hiring network cabling specialists. They may give priority to applicants who have been certified, and are members of the Ontario College of Trades.
It all depends on the company. Having your C of Q won’t guarantee you a job...but it may help you stand out as an applicant. So, it’s something to consider, if you’re starting a career in this field.
What About Combined Electrician & Network Cabling Programs?
There’s another training option for people considering careers in network cabling. Some trades schools offer combined programs, which blend Network Cabling and Electrician training.
These fields are closely related. Students get a good grounding in both trades, and double their job options after graduation. Qualify to become a:
- construction electrician
- industrial electrician
- electrical contractor
- CATV technician
- computer IT technician
- network cabling specialist
- communications cabling technician
Wayne Rowley is the instructor for the Combined Electrician and Network Cabling program at Herzing College. He says this training is laser-focused on preparing students for real job sites.
“By the time they graduate, our students can do electrical and cabling tasks independently, their very first day on the job. They can wire boxes, hang lights, install breakers…This is the way the program was designed – to make the student valuable to the employer. The theory and the codes will come with experience. Companies hire our grads because they can actually do the work.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Combined program, click below to browse courses and get detailed information.
Next Steps: Is network cabling right you for?
Not sure if a career in network cabling is right for you? Can’t decide which training program to choose? Your best bet is to talk with an Admissions Advisor. Advisors are experts in matching students with the right trades programs.
They can help you figure out which program best suits your natural skills, map out a plan for financial aid, and answer any questions you have.
Chat live with an Admissions Advisor now. Or click below to explore the program in more detail.