Over the last few years, Ontario has seen rising demand for network cabling specialists. These are the tradespeople who install structured cable and data communication networks in buildings.
A network cabling specialist installs, tests, and repairs a variety of communications infrastructures, including fiber optic, coaxial and other types of cable systems. They can also install the network hardware to support data, voice and video applications.
Ontario’s healthy construction industry, plus rising demand for internet service and fiber-optic networks, is creating jobs in this field.
In general, Ontario’s growing population means greater need for communications networks—and there aren’t enough cabling specialists to meet that need.
Bottom line: It’s a good time to start a career in network cabling. So, what does it take to get started? What training, certifications, and skills do you need to become a network cabling specialist in Ontario?
Here is your quick guide to the network cabling trade.
Network Cabling Specialist Training: What Are Your Options?
Several colleges in Ontario offer Network Cabling Specialist training. Some are designed to prepare you for an apprenticeship and certification, while others lead straight into the workforce.
You have a choice whether or not to get certified, so this may be a factor when selecting your program (more on certification later in the post).
At Herzing, our program runs for 24 weeks. Students are ready to enter the trade immediately after graduation. Click below for a quick overview of what’s covered in the courses.
What Skills Will You Learn In School?
A good Network Cabling Specialist program offers a balance of classroom theory and hands-on training in a workshop environment.
For example, to start a career in this field, you must grasp certain theoretical concepts like:
- Basic electrical and signal transmission theory
- Current industry standards for cable installation
- History and evolution of network cabling
- How to prepare price estimates for cabling projects
- How to conduct site surveys and prepare bid proposals
- How to interpret blueprints and drawings
- Job safety for network cabling specialists
Practical skills are also important. Employers are looking for cabling specialists who can complete hands-on tasks like:
- Pull and route cables throughout a building
- Terminate cables and install jacks and wall plates
- Strip, cut and trim cables
- Use diagnostic tools such as testers, meters and sensors
- Troubleshoot cabling problems
- Maintain and repair structured cable and data networks
Quality training will include all these skills. Any program you choose should be taught by an experienced network cabling professional with a solid track record in the trade.
You want to make sure you graduate with a skillset today’s employers are actually looking for. An experienced instructor knows what companies want and will help you compete for good positions.
If you want to become a network cabling specialist, you will need to earn some safety certifications. Many postings for network cabling jobs list safety training as a mandatory requirement.
For example, employers often list fall prevention, working at heights, and aerial lift training as essential prerequisites for getting hired.
For this reason, it’s wise to choose Network Cabling Specialist training that includes industry-standard safety training. You want to graduate with certifications like:
- Working at Heights
- Elevating Work Platforms
- Lockout & Tag Safety
- Scaffold Users’ Hazard Awareness
- Confined Spaces Hazard Awareness
Getting Certified as a Network Cabling Specialist
People often get confused about certification requirements for network cabling specialists. For now, this is classified as a “voluntary” trade in Ontario. What does that mean?
It means you don’t have to get certified to become a network cabling specialist. It is not compulsory to complete an apprenticeship, take an exam, and earn a Certificate of Qualification (like electricians, plumbers, HVAC mechanics, and others must do).
However, there is an option to become a certified network cabling specialist. Some employers prefer to hire certified technicians, so earning this credential can give you an edge.
If you decide to go this route, the requirements are:
- 4000 hours of apprenticeship
- 600 hours of in-class training
- Pass a certification exam
In total, it will take you about 2.5 years to complete the certification process. Not a bad deal, compared to 5 years for electricians and plumbers!
Network Cabling Careers
Network cabling specialists have several different career options, and go by a few different names. For example, job postings for cabling specialists often list the following positions and job titles:
- Network Cabling Technician
- Computer IT Technician
- CATV Technician
- Telecommunication Contractor
- Fiber Optic Technician
In terms of employers, there are various types of companies that hire network cabling specialists. You can find job opportunities with:
- Telecommunications carriers
- Construction firms
- Network installation companies
- Data center networks
- Internet providers
- IT firms and electrical product companies
Our graduates have been hired by companies like Bell Technical Solutions, Rycom, and Activo. Many of today’s telecommunications companies are very high-tech. This is a quickly evolving field that goes far beyond traditional voice and data systems.
Companies are offering next-generation network cabling solutions that integrate a wide range of features, such as:
- Building automation systems (BAS)
- Energy management
- Lighting control
- Voice and data networks
- Unified communications
- HVAC control
- Audio/visual communications
- Data analytics
These are the kinds of “smart building” communication systems and technologies you will help install and repair as a network cabling specialist.
How to get started
If you want to become a network cabling specialist, your first priority is finding a trade school that fits your needs. We recommend booking admissions appointments at each school you’re considering.
Talk with an Advisor about the program, compare tuition costs, and get help understanding your financial aid options.
In addition to OSAP, there are special training grants for the skilled trades, which can help cover the cost of your tuition (money you don’t have to pay back!)
A good Advisor can walk you through the details, and even help you fill out the application for funding.
Plus, they can explain things like class schedules and career support, so you can figure out which program offers the biggest benefits.
Get started by exploring the Network Cabling Specialist program offered at Herzing College Skilled Trades. Training is available at our Toronto and Cambridge locations.
Click below to view the program and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We’re here to help.
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