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How to Become a Cable Installer

Cable installers are responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of residential and business cabling for internet and television services. They lay ground cable that connects to neighborhoods and commercial districts, install feeder lines to homes and businesses, provide cable access, and set up equipment for customers. Cable installers also set up home routers, modems, and other cabled devices and explain to customers how they work. They might be required to dig and set ground cables, examine the lines when cable outages occur, work on telephone poles, troubleshoot any problems with the cable system, and repair or replace faulty equipment.

Are you reliable and organized? Do you have a friendly manner and enjoy working outside in different weather conditions, meeting new people, and have basic knowledge of electrical systems? You might be right for a career as a cable installer where you can put your high-quality customer services skills to work.

Sample job description

We’re searching for an experienced cable installer to join our team and help take our company to new heights. Cable systems installers are primarily responsible for the maintenance of cable/wire communications systems, communication security devices, and other associated equipment. This equipment needs to consistently work. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience installing data and voice cable systems for residential television systems, home routers, and other cabled devices.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Install, maintain, and repair cable TV and internet systems
  • String and pull up cables between poles and underground as necessary to provide the strongest signal in the best position
  • Install cable racks, j-hooks, inner duct, and other related structures in support of cable systems
  • Inspect cable lines to ensure the system is working correctly
  • Troubleshoot issues with network communication
  • Repair cable, related poles, and towers to resolve cable issues
  • Test signal strength and connection using test equipment
  • Maintain company vehicles, reporting any damage or needed repairs
  • Follow all driving and safety laws in a company vehicle

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Relevant work experience as cable technician or apprentice

Required skills and qualifications

  • Good computer, network, and electronics skills
  • Excellent problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to visually distinguish colors.
  • Dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
  • Mechanically inclined.
  • Solid customer service skills.
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Familiar with AC and DC circuits.

Preferred qualifications

  • Previous cable installation experience
  • Willing to work weekends
  • Associate’s degree in electronics, computer science, or a related field

Typical work environment

Cable installers spend much of their time out in the field. They drive a company vehicle from one location to another, which might be a residence or a place of business. On any given day, they might have to work in tight spaces, crawl spaces, at high elevations, such as on telephone poles, and work in other hazardous conditions. They also spend some time in service centers and climate-controlled offices reviewing service orders. 

Typical hours

Cable installers typically work normal hours of 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. They must also be available to work late if needed and to work on weekends. 

Available certifications

Cable installers work in a variety of industries, and many institutions provide certifications that can help them expand their knowledge and add to their skill sets.  

  • Certified Network Cable Installer (CNCI). The CNCI has become the preferred certification in the industry for network cable installation. The program offers both technical knowledge and practical activities for copper and fiber component installation. Certification proves your knowledge and skill in network cable installation using current national and international industry standards and industry best practices. You’ll learn cabling media types, network topologies, LAN Hardware, PCs, switches, routers, how to interpret drawings, cable installation and termination, and networks, among other things. There are no prerequisites for the program.
  • BICSI Cabling Installation Certifications. Building Industry Consulting Service International offers several cabling installation certifications that validate your installation knowledge and experience. The BICSI Installer 1 certificate requires no experience. The BICSI Installer 2, Copper, requires 1 year of experience. For the BICSI Installer 2, Optical Fiber, you’ll need two years of verifiable ICT installation experience. The BICSI Technician certificate requires 3 years of verifiable ICT installation experience. Choose whichever certificate program is right for you, whether you are new to the industry or a 20-year veteran. 
  • Fiber Optics Installer (FOIC). The FOIC is accredited by the International Certification Accreditation Council and demonstrates your understanding and expertise in optical fiber installation, connection, splicing, and testing. A Fiber Optic Installer designation means you are proficient at the installation of connectors on various types of fiber optic cables using multiple types of connectors, and can perform mechanical and fusion splicing. To maintain certification, individuals are required to keep up with current technology and recertify on an annual basis.

Career path

The steps to becoming a cable installer start with earning a high school diploma or a GED. You must also have a valid driver’s license. Earning an associate’s degree in electronics, computer science, or a related field is beneficial. Cable companies typically provide on-the-job training. You might also find internships with some cable companies to gain experience. For career advancement, cable installers can achieve certifications, such as the Certificate in Electronics Repair from a technical school or other institution.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 49-2022

2020 Employment195,800
Projected Employment in 2030193,600
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 1% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift2,200 decrease

With many consumers ditching cable TV and opting for web-based, over-the-top (OTT) alternatives, cable companies are looking for ways to grow and expand and keep the customers they have. Some are accomplishing this by offering additional OTT services to cable services, such as Amazon Prime, HBO NOW, Hulu, and Netflix. 

Underground cables have been installed the same way for the last 20 years or more. Cable installers dig a trench and lay the cables in. New technologies are being developed to provide an added protective barrier for underground cables using conduits or pipes. An example is encasing cables in concrete to prevent cable damages and shield energized lines from potential hazards from construction.

Since cables can be easily nicked or cut by accident, enhanced protection can result in fewer outages, which amounts to cost savings of cable replacement and fewer consumer complaints about service interruptions. Specialized pipes with enhanced mechanical, physical, thermal, moisture, and chemical properties can greatly minimize the impact from harsh environmental elements, accidental dig-ins, future utility repairs, or collapsing of structures above ground during severe weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, or wildfires.