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Cable Contractor: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Cable contractors install and maintain network lines for telecommunications companies. Educational requirements are minimal, though college courses in telecommunications technology exist to prepare for a position in the cable workforce.

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Cable Contractor Job Description

Cable contractors set up and repair cable and other communications lines that provide telecommunications customers with services, such as Internet and television. They test cables and network devices to ensure unimpeded connectivity. They work with a variety of materials, including fiber-optic cables, which may require splicing and other skilled work. They may work in residential settings, offices, or with outdoor communications equipment.

Job Duties of a Cable Contractor

Cable contractors service customer needs on behalf of their employers by setting up and traveling to appointments. They work with both cable lines and communications equipment supplied by cable companies. They must be familiar with the set up and configuration of devices, such as modems and cable boxes, so customers can access the services they've paid for. They also install accessories, such as line amplifiers, to give customers the best possible connectivity.

Cable contractors might have to string lines of cable from utility poles, trenches, or towers to residential buildings. In doing this, they have to make sure cables remain unbroken and are safely positioned. They might have to splice lines of cable together to increase their length and verify cable positions do not interfere with their transmission power.

Requirements for Cable Contractors

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers hire cable contractors who've earned at least a high school diploma (www.bls.gov). Recommended high school preparation courses for cable contractors include physics, electronics, and communications. Mechanical aptitude is required for the job, as are communication and customer service skills.

Though typically not required, cable contractors can study telecommunications technology at the collegiate level. Both certificate and degree programs are available at universities, community colleges, and technical institutes. Certificate programs include courses in electricity, data, and networking, training students for entry-level technician positions. Associate's and bachelor's degrees in telecommunications and networking prepare graduates for jobs in the industry that require greater skills, such as those working with fiber optics, local area networks, and wide area networks.

Experience Requirements

The BLS reported that cable contractors typically learn their skills through on-the-job training. This hands-on experience could last up to several years, although it might be supplemented with classroom education. In addition, equipment manufacturers or unions may offer courses to help or update professionals working in the field.

Work Requirements

Cable contractors must travel to customer and work sites, requiring a good driving record. Additionally, to meet customer demand, residential service calls might need to be made during evening and weekend hours. Some companies supply equipment and vehicles to cable repair and installation contractors, though workers may be required to furnish their own tools and transportation.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by telecommunications line installers and repairers was $51,410 in May 2012. The employment of all line installers and repairers is expected to grow by 13% between 2010 and 2020, per the BLS; those working in the field of telecommunications may expect job opportunities to increase by about 14% during the same time frame.

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