Fiber Optic Training
one can know everything nor can any training course possibly cover all
aspects of fiber optics, all types of components and anyway the
technology is always advancing, making it important to continue gaining
knowledge from all available sources. Much of the technical knowledge
needed can be obtained from this website, but what about the skills
needed for working with fiber optic components for installation,
testing, troubleshooting and restoration? What kinds of training
necessary for success as a fiber optic contractor or installer and
where can you obtain that training?
The #1 Rule Of Fiber Optic Installation
Never, ever, try to install a new type of component or undertake a new type of application without proper training.
Not having the knowledge or skills related to that component or
application makes it virtually impossible to ensure success on the
first job and mistakes can be very expensive. Trust us on this one - we
have lots of examples of installations that went wrong!
Getting More Training
are many options for further training but first you need to figure out
what your needs are, what training should include and who can provide
appropriate training. As a general rule, all training in fiber optics
that is aimed at installers must include sufficient hands-on activities
with the relevant equipment, tools and components for the student to
develop skills appropriate for that activity.
optic techs with some experience can often learn how to install many
new component types or how to operate new equipment on their own. On
this website, there is tutorial information on most installation
subjects as well as "virtual hands-on" tutorials (VHO) on how it's
done, step-by-step. Most manufacturers have good instructions and often
tutorials online to help. Given proper tools and applications
information, the astute tech should be able to learn new processes in a
short time. The secret, of course, is to do this in a quiet, clean
office environment before trying it on a customer's site with them
looking over your shoulder!
Sometimes, it's better to take a
course. Many FOA-approved schools offer advanced or specialist courses
that provide several days of intensive training, furnishing tools,
equipment and supplies, as well as instructors who are familiar with
the processes being taught. Manufacturers also offer product specific
training, but one should try to get trained by applications engineers
not sales personnel who may not have the depth of knowledge needed to
adequately train installers.
Learning to install new components
are hundreds of different types of fiber optic components that
manufacturers have developed for specific applications or to simplify
the job of the installer. Many of these components are unique to that
manufacturer and may require special tools and installation processes.
Examples are prepolished/splice connectors like the Corning Unicam, 3M HotMelt connectors,
splice closures, all dielectric self-supporting cables, optical power
ground wire, prefabricated cabling systems, etc.
Generally, one should
go directly to the manufacturer for training like this unless an
independent trainer has been trained and is recommended by the
manufacturer and has the proper tools and components to teach the
processes required. Some manufacturers offer short introductory courses
on their new products which includes limited hands-on time, and such
training may be ideal for those interested in learning more about that
product before committing to purchasing all the tools and components
necessary to use it. Follow-on comprehensive training can be done after
making those purchases.
Learning to use new equipment
of the equipment necessary for fiber optic installation is complicated
and may be difficult to learn how to use without proper instruction on
the same piece of equipment. Examples are automated fusion splicers,
especially ribbon splicers, cable pulling or plowing equipment and
Some of these pieces of equipment are quite complex and have
peripheral products that must be used properly in conjunction with them
to achieve the expected results. Ribbon splicers, for example, use
ribbon strippers and cleavers, both of which are critical to achieving
consistently good splices. All automated splicers have unique
programming features so one needs to learn how to operate the splicer
unit itself as well as how to make splices using it.
also complicated devices and learning to use them has two parts -
learning how to operate the OTDR with all its options and interpreting
the data it takes in testing a fiber (the trace or signature as it is called).
While all OTDR manufacturers offer "automatic testing" options, one
cannot afford to trust them in all uses, as they can easily become
confused by artifacts like ghosts. The user should always manually
check the OTDR trace to ensure proper conclusions from test data.
needs to be done on the actual type and model of equipment of interest,
as different manuacturers products or different models from the same
manufacturer may have unique features. To be effective, the training
must include two phases - how to set up and operate the equipment
itself and how to complete the processes it is intended for.
Generally manufacturers offer training on these products and
independent trainers may use the same equipment or will be willing to
train you on your equipment if you have already purchased it.
Learning New Applications
point we make often is that there are many different applications for
fiber optics and there are substantial differences in how those
applications are designed, installed and tested. Outside plant techs,
for example, generally terminate by splicing on factory-made pigtails,
while premises techs terminate directly on fibers with adhesive/polish
or prepolish/splice connectors. Techs moving from one application to
another may require training as well as on the job training (OJT) to
understand the application and develop the appropriate skills.
Finding Appropriate Training
your interest, make sure the courses you take are appropriate for your
interests or you'll be wasting time and money. Here are some options to
Can you learn it yourself? Some of us just learn better on our own. Is information on the topic readily available, for example on the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide? Good videos can help too, especially with hands-on topics like cable pulling and termination.
Can you get the right tools and components to use in developing the
skills necessary? Is there someone you can call for assistance?
the manufacturer offer training? Does it cover what you need to know?
Does it offer lots of practice with the equipment and components? Will
you be certified as an approved installer for that manufacturer? That
can help in getting business from customers of that manufacturer.
independent trainers like the FOA-Approved Schools offer training in this area? Does it cover what
you need to know? Does the trainer have the latest version of the
equipment needed for training? Will they train you on your equipment?
Is the instructor experienced and well-versed on the products and
technology? Can the trainer offer manufacturer certification as well as
Where is the training being offered? Travel costs can add significantly to training costs.
FOA-Approved schools often offer other types of classes than just CFOT
certification classes. Check with your FOA school or the online list of FOA-Approved schools and see what you can find.