What Is Fiber Optics Engineering? (Plus How You Can Build Your Career)

In our global world, fibre optics engineers are the unsung heroes, facilitating our connectivity and ensuring communication systems run smoothly. Essentially, they are responsible for the design, installation, maintenance and troubleshooting of fibre optic cables – vital for efficiently transmitting data over long distances.

BMR Solutions provide technical staff for employment within a wide range of manufacturing and engineering companies at all job levels – from shopfloor to senior management. In this blog, we discuss the role of fibre optic engineer so you can decide whether it might be the right position for you.

What is a fiber optic engineer?

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Work environment for fiber optic engineering

The work environment for fiber optic engineering is not that of a traditional office setting. Here are some key aspects of the fiber optic engineering work environment:

Location

Many fiber optic technicians maintain, repair and protect miles of fiber optic cables within their area. For several positions in the fiber optics field, traveling is a consistent requirement for the job. One major aspect of fiber optics positions is protecting fiber optic cables during construction. If a construction crew is digging and disrupts or damages a fiber optic cable, it can cause disconnection for many people and is often time consuming and costly to repair. Its because of this that fiber optic technicians always encourage construction managers to consult with them before beginning projects.

Schedule

Though a person working in fiber optic engineering can have varying schedules, one example schedule could be working five days a week and being on call a few weekends a month. Many fiber optic technicians and engineers work during the day. In addition, some positions in the fiber optics field may require travel or extra work at a moments notice, depending on the situation.

Team

There are many positions in the fiber optics field, and those professionals who serve in these various roles may work together to ensure fiber optic cables are well-maintained and working correctly. In smaller areas, fiber optic technicians may understand and operate all aspects of fiber optic work, but in larger areas, technicians may specialize. One kind of fiber optic technician is a tester, or a person who specializes in testing and evaluating equipment to ensure its operating as it should.

There are also fusion splicers, who specialize in joining different cables together by using the application of heat. Fusion splicers are skilled in fusing the cables so the fusion doesnt disrupt the information passing through. There are also fiber optic technicians who focus on installation and repairs. This can be challenging because it requires individuals to operate heavy machinery and safely use cumbersome equipment.

Challenges

Because many fiber optics engineers spend time outside installing, repairing and providing maintenance for cables, they must often brave weather like rain, wind and cold. If you want to work with fiber optic cables in the field, you might be well-suited for the job if you enjoy being outside. Some fiber optic engineers climb poles to install cables, requiring bravery, safety compliance and composure under pressure.

What is fiber optic engineering?

Fiber optic engineering is the process of designing, installing and maintaining the fiber optic cables that support phone and internet communication. Fiber optic cables are cables made with glass fibers. Those cables transmit information by converting messages into light pulses that travel through the cables to their destination. Fiber optic cables transmit information much faster than traditional options, and because of this, many traditional options are being replaced with fiber optics. This rapid change increases demand for individuals who can design, install and maintain fiber optic systems.

How to build a fiber optic engineering career

You can follow these steps to build your career in the fiber optics field:

1. Determine which position in fiber optics is best for you

Before building your career in the fiber optics field, you want to make sure its right for you. If you enjoy working with your hands, learning about technology and are passionate about safety and improvement, the fiber optics field might be for you. There are many positions to choose from, like fiber optic fusion splicer or fiber optic design engineer. Different positions involve varying degrees of field work and education requirements.

2. Obtain the required education

Depending on what position in the fiber optics field youre interested in, youll need varying degrees of education. If you want to be a technician who mainly installs and repairs cables, you likely only need your high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on where you live and the opportunities available, you may choose to enroll in trade school or gain your fiber optics training on the job.

If you want to develop, plan and create schematics for communications networks, you may want to become a fiber optic designer rather than a technician. To be a fiber optic design engineer, you need a bachelors degree in electrical engineering or another related field like telecommunications. Depending on the company you wish to work for, you may need more experience or a masters degree.

3. Complete the appropriate certifications

Different companies may have different expectations for the certificates they require you to have. Some companies may pay for you to attend the certification classes, but if you want to show initiative and dedication to the field, you may also consider becoming certified before applying for positions. There are many certifications applicable to the fiber optics field, including certifications that focus on safety, technical abilities and specific equipment and techniques. Here are some certifications you may need in the fiber optics field:

4. Apply for fiber optics positions

Once you have earned the required education and certification, search online for positions in the fiber optics field. Because it is a growing industry, there are many opportunities. Some individuals appreciate the fiber optics field for its job security.

5. Engage in continuous learning

As a fiber optics specialist, its important that you continue to learn about how the field is developing. There are constant improvements to fiber optic systems, and engaging in continuous learning allows you to stay informed and efficient in your position. To do this, you can find literature on fiber optics or attend conferences that focus on advancements in telecommunication.

Jobs related to fiber optic engineering

Here are some job titles in the fiber optics field:

Primary duties: Cable technicians repair, maintain and install cables for internet and television. They can work commercially or residentially to install feeder lines that provide telecommunications access to businesses and homes. A cable technician can work with tower cables and ground cables.

Primary duties: Fiber technicians work with fiber optic cables and systems. They troubleshoot, install, repair and maintain fiber optic cables and systems. A fiber technician performs routine inspections to ensure construction and other operations dont disrupt or damage the fiber optic system.

Primary duties: Installation technicians specialize in installations of electronic equipment and systems. They perform routine maintenance, test electrical systems and suggest upgrading or replacing non-functioning equipment. An installation technician assists with difficult installations such as those underground or underwater.

Primary duties: Tower technicians scale towers to install, repair and maintain the telecommunications equipment at the top. Tower climbing is a challenging but rewarding job for those who are skilled with electrical equipment and physically fit. Tower climbers brave extreme weather and heights to ensure telecommunications systems continue to function.

Primary duties: Splicers are technicians who specialize in using precise tools to cut fiber optic cables. A splicer cuts, tests and reconnects fiber optic wires without disrupting the information they transmit. Splicers are necessary to upgrading and maintaining fiber optics systems.

Primary duties: Telecommunications managers delegate responsibility for installing, maintaining and operating telecommunications equipment. The manager supervises installation and upgrading to ensure efficiency and compliancy with safety protocols. They spend more time in the office than technicians documenting issues, concerns and incidents regarding systems, maintenance and employees.

Primary duties: Electrical engineers can work on a broad range of electrical systems and equipment, including fiber optics but expanding to navigation systems, automobile technology, aircraft systems and motors. They design, implement and develop electrical components for many industries. Electrical engineers also consult for complex electrical projects.

Primary duties: Telecommunications engineers are specialists who install the equipment for fiber optics systems. Telecommunications engineers understand complex electrical and telecommunications processes like switching systems, information rerouting, phone transmitting and broadband data. Telecommunications engineers may also help to design telecommunications products like voice, information, video and messaging communications systems.

FAQ

Is fiber optics a good career?

Depending on the industry and the company, fiber optic engineers earn a good, stable salary with the median being around $55,000 a year. If you get in with a good company and the work is more complex and detailed, that figure will increase. There are tons of great benefits working with fiber.

What does a fiber design engineer do?

The Fiber Optic Design Engineer Specialist is responsible for conducting fiber optic detailed network design for middle mile and last mile fiber-based networks or Fiber to the Home projects. It requires an in-depth understanding of current fiber optic design standards and industry processes.

How do I become a fiber design engineer?

To become a fiber design engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in civil or optical engineering. In addition to your educational qualifications, you must have several years of experience with both inside and outside plant operations and a background in construction or project management.

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