Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Spotlight: Telecommunications Installer/Technician
If you’re familiar with the IBEW, or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, chances are you think of the men and women responsible for electrical wiring. But did you know that the IBEW is the fastest-growing training organization for telecommunications installers and technicians?
Telecommunications installers and technicians work on low voltage systems like computer networks, security systems, telephones, audio/video systems, and smart buildings—installing, connecting, and terminating wiring and cabling systems to make the technology of our everyday lives and workplaces operate properly.
While the telecommunications apprenticeship track at IBEW Local 401’s Northern Nevada Electrical Training Center in Reno isn’t new—it was implemented in 2001—it’s enjoying a renaissance after being slowed down by the dot com bust and, later, the recession. It’s doubled in size in just the last two years as local demand has increased, and IBEW Local 401 Training Director Alan Darney believes the telecom track represents the future of electrical careers.
“I think that this is going to continue to be the fastest growing area we deal with,” Darney says. “As technology continues to advance rapidly, I can see a day when telecommunications workers are going to be doing a larger percentage of our electrical systems—even lighting—as devices like our computers and telephone systems increasingly plug into these low-voltage systems. More and more, power is being delivered over data networks instead of traditional methods.”
Darney says this popular apprenticeship program is three years, and apprentices start out making $15.81/hour for a technician-level track and $26.35 for an installer, with incremental raises as apprentices move through the program and master skills, like:
Cable testing, splicing, and terminating
LAN (local area networks)
Blueprint reading Hazardous materials
Troubleshooting and diagnostics
Apprentices receive paid on-the-job training at local companies, like electrical contractors that have a telecommunications division, contractors dedicated to telecom and data, security companies, and specialty shops.
What do IBEW Local 401 trainers look for in applicants to its telecommunications apprenticeship program?
“People should be tech-oriented and comfortable with computers,” says Darney. “The work in our traditional electrician track can be more physically demanding, this side is more detail-oriented. You have to be OK with things getting tedious sometimes.”
A high school diploma or equivalent and a valid driver’s license is also required.
Depending on timing, there can be a waiting list to be accepted into the telecommunications technician/installer apprenticeship program, but the wait is typically short.
Like all 12 of Northern Nevada’s registered apprenticeships in the building and construction trades, IBEW Local 401 is seeking to increase the number of women in Nevada’s construction workforce, and encourages women to apply.
How to apply:
IBEW Local 401 is an equal-opportunity employer and its opportunities are available to all who meet the minimum requirements, regardless of age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality.