What Is Optical Network Management?

While ever-growing technology relies more and more on the use of optical networks, there is a need for jobs in network management. Read on to learn more about the fiber optics world and what the job outlook is for optical network management careers. Schools offering Computer Networking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Description

Optical networking, a component of telecommunications, involves the use of fiber optic cables to transmit and receive information over computers, televisions and telephones. Management of these optical networks includes installing, repairing or overseeing their operations.

Available job titles in this field include network administrator, network systems engineer, fiber optic technician and fiber optic installation technician. Common tasks performed in these careers include testing and installing fiber optic cables as well as repairing broken cables.

Important Facts About Optical Network Management

Network Administrators and Engineers Telecommunications Equipment Installer/Repairer
Similar Occupations Computer hardware engineer, computer programmer, database administrator, software developer, information security analyst Office machine repairer, broadcast/sound engineering technician
Key Skills Analytical, communication, multi-tasking, interpersonal, and leadership skills Dexterity, mechanical, and troubleshooting skills
Work Environment Full-time, sometimes 40+ hours a week in many different industries Full-time, sometimes in an on-call position
On-the-Job Training Internships are offered Typically supervised by a senior technician

Network Administrator

If you work as a network administrator, you'd be involved with network installation, maintenance, optimization and troubleshooting. You'd also teach others how to use networking equipment and have some duties in network security.

Network Engineer

Network engineers, also called computer network architects, are responsible for designing networks for companies. This job involves choosing the right hardware, cables and layout for the organization, as well as actually building the network.

Telecommunications Equipment Installer and Repairer

Rather than installing the lines themselves, these professionals deal with installing, configuring and troubleshooting communications equipment, such as fiber optic cables, routers and switches. They may also show customers how to use the equipment. While some work in companies, others travel to clients to do work.

Education Requirements

Although completing a certificate or associate's degree program is generally sufficient to prepare you to work in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational requirements vary by position (www.bls.gov). Both network administrators and network engineers typically need a bachelor's degree, while telecommunications equipment installers and repairers need just a postsecondary non-degree award paired with on-the-job training.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in fiber optic technology can prepare you to work as a technician or in maintenance or repair. Generally, such programs provide you with knowledge about installation and repair of fiber optic cables. Sometimes, to graduate from these programs, you must pass written or oral exams. Coursework in these programs covers topics like fiber optic technology, optical systems testing, fiber optic cabling component standards and continuity testing.

Associate's Degree Programs

A two-year associate's degree program provides more in-depth instruction about the fiber optic industry. Credits earned in these programs may transfer to a four-year school. Much of your coursework in these programs is computer related and involves labs in which you work with fiber optic systems. Classes may include lecture and lab work in subjects like electric circuits and systems, data acquisition, fiber optic systems and devices, fiber optical networking, systems security and local area networks.

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes careers in fiber optical installation and repairs in the category of telecommunications line installers and repairers (www.bls.gov). The BLS expects careers in this field to grow approximately 8% during the 2016 through 2026 decade. In May 2018, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $58,280.

The BLS also reported estimate employment growths of 6% for network administrators, 6% for network engineers and 8% for telecommunications equipment installers and repairers between 2016 and 2026. In May 2018, median wages for these professionals were $82,050, $109,020, and $56,100, respectively.

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