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Detailed Guide for

Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers in San Diego County

May also be called: Cable Pullers; Cable Splicers; Cable Technicians; Fiber Optic Technicians; Line Installer-Repairers; Lineworkers; Outside Plant Technicians; Premises Technicians

What Would I Do?

Every time you download an online video, access a social networking site, watch cable television at home, or use a landline telephone at work you are connecting to complex networks of lines and cables that connect people with the outside world. Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers are some of the people who make these networks possible.

Line Installers and Repairers install, maintain, and repair the lines and cables used by telephone, Internet and cable companies. These companies provide services such as cable television, Internet access, and other communications networks. These services require a variety of different types of cables, such as copper wires and fiber optic cables. Unlike copper wire that can carry electrical signals, fiber optic cables are made of glass or plastic and transmit signals using light. As telecommunication companies continue to provide larger amounts of bandwidth and expand broadband access to their customers, fiber optic cables are the preferred method of data transmission. Working with fiber optics requires special skills, such as splicing and terminating optical cables.

Line Installers are workers who install new cable. They may work for construction contractors or telecommunications companies. They generally start a new job by digging trenches or erecting poles which will carry the cables. They use a variety of construction equipment, including digger derricks, which are trucks equipped with augers and cranes used to dig holes in the ground and set poles in place. Line Installers also use trenchers, cable plows, and borers, which are used to cut openings in the earth for the laying of underground conduits or cables. Once the infrastructure is in place, Line Installers install cable onto poles, through conduit, and directly in trenches to the demarcation point where the outside cables are terminated. Some Line Installers run cables inside of buildings or connect a series of buildings on the same premises which may involve installing conduit or cable trays, as well as racks for equipment or other network hardware. During and after installation is completed, cables are tested to ensure the installation was done properly.

Line Repairers work for utilities and telecommunications companies that maintain existing lines. Maintenance needs are identified through remote monitoring equipment and customer reports of service outages. Many of these workers, sometimes called Line Installer-Repairers, have installation duties in addition to their repair duties. When a problem is reported, Line Repairers must identify its cause and fix it. This usually involves knowledge of telecommunications technology and the use of special testing equipment. Workers may also replace cables that are aging, outdated, or damaged. Storms and other natural disasters, as well as rodents gnawing through unprotected cables, can cause extensive damage to networks of lines. When a connection goes out, Line Repairers must work quickly to restore service to customers. In order to work on poles, workers usually use bucket trucks to elevate themselves to the top of a structure, although all Lineworkers must be adept at climbing poles when necessary. Workers use special safety equipment to keep them from falling when climbing utility poles.

Tools and Technology

Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers use test equipment specific to copper and fiber optic networks as well as a variety of tools in the course of their work including cable cutting, stripping, and splicing tools. They also use shears, tampers, saws, levels, screwdrivers, cable reels, bucket trucks, derricks, and trenching machines. In addition, they use customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software programs.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Inspect and test lines and cables, recording and analyzing test results, to assess transmission characteristics and locate faults and malfunctions.Quality Control Analysis
Splice cables, using hand tools, epoxy, or mechanical equipment.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Measure signal strength at utility poles, using electronic test equipment.Telecommunications
Set up service for customers, installing, connecting, testing, and adjusting equipment.Installation
Access specific areas to string lines and install terminal boxes, auxiliary equipment, and appliances, using bucket trucks, or by climbing poles and ladders or entering tunnels, trenches, or crawl spaces.Multilimb Coordination
String cables between structures and lines from poles, towers, or trenches and pull lines to proper tension.Manual Dexterity
Lay underground cable directly in trenches, or string it through conduits running through trenches.Extent Flexibility
Use a variety of construction equipment to complete installations, including digger derricks, trenchers, and cable plows.Equipment Selection
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

The work of Line Installers and Repairers can be physically demanding. Lineworkers should be comfortable working at great heights while maintaining balance in addition to using their upper body strength. They should be able to work within confined spaces, such as underground tunnels, while stooping or kneeling. The ability to lift a minimum of 50 pounds and easily identify differences between color-specific wires are additional physical requirements of the job. A California driver license is often necessary since the job requires workers to drive utility vehicles and travel long distances. Some Installers are independent contractors who travel from job site to job site.

Constructing and maintaining both ground and aerial infrastructure is typically done year-round, outdoors, and in various weather conditions. Line Installers and Repairers typically work a 40-hour workweek. They may be required to work overtime or on weekends in cases of emergency such as aerial line damage caused by extreme weather. During an emergency repair, physical and mental fatigue may occur due to long work hours and sustained activity.

Line Installers and Repairers must follow safety procedures to minimize potential hazards. In accordance with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), they wear safety equipment when entering utility holes and descending into trenches. To prevent injuries from working on poles, they must use fall-protection equipment. They must also follow proper safety guidelines when using equipment and operating heavy machinery. Many employers provide tools and uniforms, but it is not uncommon for workers to purchase their own.

Many workers and apprentices belong to unions such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America.

Will This Job Fit Me?

For those who enjoy being outside, working closely with others in a team, and completing projects, the job of Telecommunications Line Installer and Repairer may be rewarding. This work would appeal to those who like practical, hands-on tasks, problem solving, and using a variety of tools and equipment.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers in California is $66,223 annually, or $31.84 hourly. The median wage for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers in San Diego County is $66,304 annually, or $31.88 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$44,439$66,223$74,890
San Diego County$53,005$66,304$74,627
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Line Installers and Repairers may expect to receive paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave, as well as health insurance and pension options. Some employers pay for education and training. The type of benefit package is determined by company policy or union contract. Self-employed contractors are responsible for their own health insurance and pension plan costs.

What is the Job Outlook?

Broadband Internet access is expanding for households and businesses, and telecommunications companies are attempting to provide customers with both telephone and cable broadband technologies by replacing copper wire with fiber optic cables. Installers and Repairers may be needed to build new infrastructure as well as provide maintenance and repair. The majority of job openings will occur due to the need to replace workers who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers are expected to increase by 22.2 percent, or 3,500 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

In San Diego County, the number of Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers are expected to increase by 27.7 percent, or 530 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
15,80019,3003,50022.23,900
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
1,9102,44053027.7470
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 350 new job openings per year is expected for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers, plus an additional 390 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 730 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 52 new job openings per year is expected for Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers, plus an additional 47 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 99 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
350390730
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
524799
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education

Most employers prefer to hire an applicant with a high school diploma or equivalent. Vocational training and more advanced two-year associate degree programs in telecommunications, communications, or information technology (IT) provide Line Installers and Repairers with classroom instruction and technical knowledge of the equipment and technology used in the field. The Fiber Optic Association (FOA) offers a listing of schools that offer training in fiber optics and premises cabling on their website and a section with advice on finding jobs.

Experience

Entry-level positions require little or no experience. Line Installers generally enter the field through temporary help agencies or formal union-sponsored apprenticeship programs. Beginning workers typically start as helpers, assisting more experienced Line Installers and Repairers. Advancement to Line Repairer requires several years of on-the-job training and some classroom experience. Some employers recommend two years or more experience for advanced fiber optic installation and repair.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in fiber optic telecommunications should take courses in algebra, trigonometry, applied physics, and English.

Apprenticeship

Union-sponsored apprenticeship programs generally require a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. Typically, apprenticeship workers are employed to receive pay during normal work hours and attend program courses during the evening. Apprenticeship programs may last 6-18 months or longer. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the Communications Workers of America Web site.

Continuing Education

While continuing education is not currently a requirement, most Telecommunications Line Installer-Repairers keep up to date with the latest developments in the field. Training may be offered by equipment manufacturers on their specific products, and professional associations help improve workers' knowledge and skills.

Licensing and Certification

A license is required for Telecommunication Line Installers and Repairers who advance to become general contractors.

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations Web site states that certification is not required for persons performing work for licensed low voltage systems employers. However employers usually require a certification for splicing and terminating fiber optics when the worker has limited experience in the field. Many employers include different types of certification as part of on-the-job training. Some certification programs and equipment manufacturers work with companies to offer one-year certificates that emphasize hands-on field work with copper wiring and fiber optics. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Wired Telecommunications Carriers 49.9%
Building Equipment Contractors 24.9%
Utility System Construction 9.3%
Employment Services 4.4%
Cable and Other Subscription Programming 2.6%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings provide local job leads. Check with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) about hiring procedures and apprenticeship programs in the local area. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers.

  • Cable & Satellite Television
  • Data Communication Services
  • Internet Service Providers (ISP)
  • Telecommunication Services
  • Telephone Companies

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Increased skills make a Telecommunications Line Installer and Repairer more valuable to the employer. Long-term on-the-job experience may lead to specialty and supervisory positions. Some corporate telecommunications companies may provide opportunities to work in administration, sales, or union representation. Some of the job skills are transferable to wireless and electrical equipment installation and repair. However, additional certification and training may be necessary.

Some Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers become independent contractors. To advance, these workers should be able to identify and estimate the quantity of materials needed to properly complete a job. In addition, they must be able to accurately estimate how long a job should take to complete and what it will cost. Low voltage systems contractors must be licensed by the California Contractors State Licensing Board.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Construction LaborersGuide
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial EquipmentProfile
Electrical Power-Line Installers and RepairersGuide
Helpers--ElectriciansProfile
Helpers--Installation, Maintenance, and Repair WorkersProfile
Signal and Track Switch RepairersProfile
Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line InstallersProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification49-9052
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers49-9052.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)REC
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Communications Systems Installation and Repair Technology 470103
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Telecommunications Technology093430