FOA Certification
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About FOA Certifications
Direct - Work-to-Cert Certification
Renewing Certification


FOA certifications

Getting started with FOA Certification
First Level

Specialist Certifications
CFOS Specialist Certifications

KSAs for CFOT and all Fiber Optics

Understanding FOA Certification Technical Requirements.

FOA Approved Training Programs

FOA's "Work to Cert" Direct Certification Program  

Online Study Guides and References
FOA Online Reference Textbook   particularly the section Understanding Fiber Optics, the Basics
FOA Installation Tech Bulletin

The Process of Getting Certified By The FOA

FOA Renewal Policy  
Renewal Application(pdf)
You can now renew with Credit Cards or PayPal
payment options

FOA Reference Books (Available Printed or eBooks) The fiber book is available in Spanish and French as well as English.

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book
  FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide

Lennie's and Uncle Ted's Guides are also available as free iBooks on iTunes.
Lennie Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.


It's now CFOT®  The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) is now a registered trademark. With so many fiber optic techs holding CFOTs and the CFOT being recognized worldwide as the foremost certification in fiber optics, the FOA realized the value of the CFOT required trademark protection.


FOA Certification
The FOA is a international non-profit educational organization that is chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. Founded in 1995 by a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and industry personnel as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and certify the workers who design, build and operate the world's fiber optic networks.

FOA certified technicians must demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) in training courses and/or show experience in applying this technology in their work. FOA certifications are based on the KSAs and reference materials for the knowledge requirements are provided in the FOA textbooks and free on the FOA Guide online and on Fiber U.

The FOA CFOT® is the certification for most fiber optic technicians. It is based on the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) deemed necessary for all technicians involved in the design, installation, testing and operation of fiber optic networks and is recommended for anyone involved with fiber optic communications systems. The FOA also offers certification in premises cabling (CPCT,) which also includes copper wiring and wireless.

Note: Techs doing fiber installation for any particular application should have a CFOT to be qualified for doing fiber optic installation work and may also have a specialist certification in that application. The CFOT is the basic certification required for all installation personnel.

FOA also offers specialist certifications in three categories:
  • Skills-based certifications are for CFOTs and are available in splicing, connectors, testing, OSP installation and fiber characterization.
  • Applications-based certifications (FTTH, OLANs, Wireless, FTTA, DAS, Data Centers) focus on the design and installation issues of each particular application and are aimed at a wider audience - users and managers overseeing these networks, designers and project managers, supervisors, as well as CFOTs involved in the installation. CFOTs are not a prerequisite for applications based certifications so a review of basic fiber optics needed for the course is available online or as an introduction to the course.
  • Fiber optic network design - This is a specialist application certification covering fiber optic network design intended for network owners, IT personnel, facilities managers, network designers, estimators or technicians involved in the design or installation of fiber networks. This course is especially recommended for network owners and planners who may not be familiar with the process of fiber optic network design as it can make their jobs easier and their projects better.

FOA certifications can be achieved by one of two methods:
  • Training at FOA Approved Schools: The FOA certifications are available through FOA-approved schools that offer training that meets FOA standards and provide certifications to the students. The FOA programs are developed and delivered by experts in the fiber optic business, most of whom have over 20 years of experience as technicians, installers, manufacturers and teachers of fiber optics.
  • Work to Cert - direct certification based on industry experience: FOA also recognizes industry experience and has many persons who qualified for direct certification based on their experience in the field. Reference materials for studying for these certification exams are available with the FOA textbooks or online free with the FOA Guide or Fiber U.

* Corporate members are organizations and as such are not certified but these companies/organizations get discounts on certifications and renewals among other benefits.

What Is Certification?
In today's high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs. The FOA was chartered as a professional society to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards.  FOA certifications are recognized by the US Department of Labor and many other organizations worldwide.

The FOA is a member of ANSI (the American National Standards Institute). FOA certifications conform to the international standard for certification bodies,  ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 Conformity assessment — General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons. 

Certification means you have achieved certain performance criteria set by the certifying organization, usually knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), either through training or experience. Certifications attest to your KSAs, and their value is the recognition of those KSAs to customers, coworkers and employers.

Certification is not a license, which is a official approval of an individual to do business in the jurisdiction issuing the license, such as a state in the USA. Many states in the USA now require licensing for contractors installing communications cabling. Check your local area to determine the requirements for licensing or use the NECA-NEIS website links below.

What Is The Value Of Industry-Based Certifications Like The FOA CFOT?
Quoted from a Georgetown University study on career and technical education:

Industry-based Certifications (IBCs)

As alternative models in higher education—such as do-it-yourself (DIY) education, competency-based education, and e-learning a.k.a. online education—are becoming more prevalent, the need for a reliable credentialing system has risen in tandem. This need arises because of the difficulty in evaluating the reliability of the credentials established by these alternative systems to ensure that workers have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform proficiently on the job.

Industry-based certifications (IBCs) are one model that is being embraced by educators, employers, and policymakers. Market forces, not the educational system, drove the creation of IBCs. They differ greatly from other kinds of postsecondary credentials and awards in that they are exam-based, administered and accredited by third parties, and developed by the private sector with little to no involvement from public institutions. They are not tied to particular programs of study, but can serve as both alternatives and supplements to traditional postsecondary awards, such as college degrees and certificates.

Industry-based certifications address several problems that postsecondary credentials currently face: relevance, accountability, consistency, and portability. Because industry-based certifications are more flexible than traditional degrees, they better reflect current industry standards and competencies, which are in constant flux."

Value of certification

Download the full Georgetown University report here.

Understanding FOA Certifications

FOA certifications are designed to show a progression of growth in knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) in fiber optics and premises cabling. Most FOA certificants start with the CFOT® certification before applying for higher level certification, usually the CFOT. There are actually more different certifications for newcomers to the FOA


FOA Certifications








Primary Certifications



These certifications are designed for techs without prior fiber optic experience who want to learn how to use fiber optics. Each course involves both knowledge and skills training. See FOA KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) for each certification.





Fiber Optics



Basic fiber optic course for all techs and all applications

Fiber Optic Network Design

Basic fiber optic course focused on designing fiber optic networks

The Design course is available online free at Fiber U with options for obtaining a certificate of completion or, for those with applicable experience, FOA CFOS/D certification.

Premises Cabling


Premises cabling for LANs, DAS, security, building management systems, etc. covering copper, fiber and wireless





Skills For Techs/Installers


These courses are designed to train techs in the skills needed for fiber optic installation and provide sufficient practice to develop those skills

Fiber Optics For OSP
Course focused on OSP (outside plant) construction and installation

How to splice fibers using fusion and mechanical splices


Overview of termination techniques and extensive labs to develop skills



Comprehensive training on fiber optic testing techniques

Fiber Characterization

Advanced fiber optic testing including dispersion testing for long haul fibers





Applications For Contractors/Techs/Managers


These applications courses are open to anyone interested in learning how fiber is used in various applications. An introduction to fiber provides background for understanding the course. Those not interested in certification are welcome to take the course for a Certificate of Completion.

All applications courses are available online free at Fiber U with options for obtaining a certificate of completion
or, for those with applicable experience, FOA certification.

Fiber To The Home



Comprehensive training on fiber to the home applications including standards, network architecture, design, installation and test

Optical LANs



Overview of fiber optic LAN designs using structured cabling and passive optical network architectures

Data Centers



Design and implementation of data centers from small to mega- focused in larger data centers and upgrades to higher speeds

Fiber For Wireless



How fiber optics is used to implement cellular, small cell, WiFi and other wireless networks

DAS – Distributed Antenna Systems



How fiber optics is used in various DAS (cellular distributed antenna system) implementations

FTTA - Fiber To The Antenna



How fiber optics is used in cellular fiber to the antenna applications.

Note: Installation techs are always expected to have a CFOT and CPCT and applicable specialist certifications to indicate their skills appropriate for installation work.

What Are the Benefits of FOA Certification ?
Like any certification programt, the benefits to those who pass the certification tests are based on the recognition of achieving a level of competence in the fiber optics field. For the end user looking for competent fiber optic personnel, it is the knowledge that this person has demonstrated knowledge and ability in the field and, perhaps even has documented experience. For the vendor of fiber optic products, it offers a technically-qualified pool of employees as well as contractors to recommend to end user customers who need to find installers for their networks. And, of course, surveys show that certifications generally lead to higher pay and faster career advancement.

How Does the FOA Program Relate to Other Associations?
We are often asked how we relate to other organizations like contractor associations, professional societies and other organizations involved in related areas. FOA is a technology-based professional society, focused on the technology which is used in many diverse applications represented by many other organizations. We feel we complement each other quite nicely. In fact many organizations recognize and use our certifications and we work with others to help develop theirs with respect to our specialties. 

Who Qualifies for the FOA Certifications?
Depending on the certification, qualified applicants may be students in FOA approved training courses or currently active technicians in the fiber optic industry. More on getting started with FOA Certification.

How Is Certification Done?
For the FOA certifications, there is a formal application, documenting the applicants meeting the requirements and a certification exam. FOA-Approved Schools generally offer the CFOT exam at the end of their training classes but may allow taking it afterwards. For individuals, arrangements can be made for taking the exam online or on paper with a local proctor. The proctor may be a supervisor, instructor, teacher or other professional, but may not be a co-worker or relative. Credit for hands-on training at non-FOA-Approved schools will be by presentation of a certificate or written confirmation from the instructor(s) that the training has been completed. Credit for industry experience can be documented by resume. Advanced certification may require documented experience, so those who have passed the CFOT wishing higher level certification should keep records or a logbook of their experience.

What Knowledge Is Required?
The basic knowledge required (see the KSAs) may be gained from formal training classes in FOA approved schools, picked up from experience in the field and/or self-study. for example using FOA's free web-based training site Fiber U.

For those wanting a training class and wish to know what is included in such a class, here are the FOA's requirements for training classes. For those wanting a formal course of study, there are many FOA-approved schools that include the FOA CFOT in their programs.

For those with industry experience who want to study for themselves and apply for the FOA exams, the exams are based on the FOA's own reference materials, the printed FOA textbooks (see below) such as the FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics,or the FOA Online Reference Guide  particularly the section Fiber Optics, the Basics, FOA's extensive selection of YouTube videos, and the FOA Installation Tech Bulletin  for those who wish to use online materials to study for it themselves, including using the study guides available in the FOA's web-based training site Fiber U.

FOA Reference Materials For Certification Exams
FOA certifications are all based on FOA published reference books shown below, the FOA Online Reference Guide (available in English, Spanish and French), YouTube Videos, and the FOA's web-based training site Fiber U.

FOA Textbooks
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book  FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book on Fiber Optic Testing FOA Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction Guide
(Available Printed or eBooks - the printed or Kindle fiber book is available in Spanish and French)
Click on any of the books to learn more.

How Are Applicant's Skills Evaluated?
Students in training classes for FOA Certification will be trained in basic hands-on skills appropriate for the certification and the instructor will evaluate the student's abilities to learn these skills. Those applying with field experience will submit documentation of their experience and other training plus references which will be evaluated by the FOA staff.

Studying For FOA Certification Exams
If you are preparing for a FOA exam, either taking a course from an FOA-approved school or directly from the FOA, you can study for the exam using the FOA references. Reference materials for studying for these certification exams are available with the FOA textbooks or online free with the FOA Guide or Fiber U.

Fiber U

Does A FOA Certification Expire?
FOA certifications require you remain actively working in the industry or with the technology and renew your certification every three years. Unless you renew it and your FOA certification, we assume you are not active in fiber optics and note that status on our database. If we get an inquiry from a potential customer or employer, we will report whether you are certified and whether you are listed as active or inactive in our database.

If your certification has expired, refer to the Renewal Policy to see how you may renew your certification.
If you have any questions regarding your FOA certification, please contact the FOA office directly.
Certification must be renewed every three years.


The Process of Getting Certified By The FOA

If you want to become FOA-Certified in fiber optics, there are several paths available. First you should understand how
FOA Certifications work. Everyone who is FOA-Certified usually begin with a CFOT and can then work toward higher level certifications. To get your CFOT, you must show extensive knowledge of fiber optics and skills in the practices common to the field. How you do this depends on whether you are currently working in the field or are just getting started.

Training - Attending FOA Certification Training
At An FOA-Approved School
If you are just getting started in fiber optics and have no practical experience, you should get training and become  certified through one of the FOA-Approved Schools. They offer courses that provide classroom training which will provide the knowledge you need for the CFOT exam and the instruction will include labs to develop the basic skills in fiber optic cable preparation, termination, splicing and testing required by the CFOT.

Direct  - If You Are Experienced and Currently Working in Fiber Optics - "Work to Cert" Direct Certification
If you are currently working in fiber optics and have been active for the last two years or more, you may apply directly to the FOA for certification. You must document your experience and pass the FOA certification exam.  Learn more.

Specialist Certifications
Once you are FOA certified, you can work toward specialist certifications. FOA offers CFOS Specialist Certifications in both skills and applications. To qualify for these certifications, you can apply based on field experience or take a specialist course from one of the FOA-Approved Schools. You should keep a record of your experience in the field to qualify for specialist certifications. When you are ready, you can apply for the CFOS exam in any of the specialties.

Guidelines For Direct FOA Certification

FOA’s “Work To Cert” Program

FOA was founded in 1995 by a group of people representing manufacturers, contractors, users, military/government and others, all active in training those who became instrumental in creating the fiber optic industry. As trainers, we were particularly concerned by the quality of training newcomers to the industry were getting, so we developed standards for the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) expected of professionals in the business. Those KSAs became the basis of the FOA CFOT® certification.

Many students have been trained and certified by FOA-approved schools. But in addition, thousands of industry professionals have applied to the FOA directly for certification without the need for classroom training, based on their knowledge and skills developed working the field. Included in that group are most of the current FOA certified instructors teaching in FOA approved schools.

With the increasing acceptance of FOA certifications, many experienced field technicians find themselves being required to have a CFOT® certification for employment, bidding on and/or working on a project. These are generally not people who would need to take a traditional CFOT course.

FOA has always had a policy of allowing experienced people to join the FOA directly and become certified, starting with the founders and including almost all of our current instructors. The requirements for direct certification have been clear, they are simply an extension of our KSAs for students trained at our schools. We require experience in the field and passing our first level exam.

FOA’s “Work To Cert” Program makes it easier for experienced fiber techs to qualify for the FOA certification. Qualifying experience in the industry of at least two years minimum is required.

FOA CFOT Direct Certification Application (experienced technicians only, no students)  (PDF)   (DOC)   
General Direct Application (all other FOA certifications, experienced technicians only, no students) ) (PDF)  (DOC)
Fee: $100US, paid online by credit card or PayPal.

More information on the FOA Work-to-Cert program and step-by-step instructions.

FOA Renewal Policy And Certification Renewal Procedures

Why is it important to renew your certification?

In today's high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs. Employers often contact the FOA to confirm the status of a job applicant. Certification requires actively working in the field.  If the person’s certification is not current, we confirm when they got their certification, when it expired, and that if expired, we consider them inactive.

Cost to renew: $100US for 3 years

How to renew:
Your expiration date is on your certification ID card.  If you have misplaced the card, you can contact the FOA – we can check your status and provide you with a new card.

You can renew online or print a renewal form and send/fax it in:

Be sure to give us your latest address, including e-mail, as that is how we send renewal notices.

How to reestablish expired FOA certifications?

Under 3 years:
If your FOA certification has expired within the last 3 years, you may simply renew.  Follow the directions as outlined above.

Over 3 years:
If your FOA certification has expired more than 3 years ago, you have to re-establish your FOA credentials. You start by sending in your resume.  We will either arrange for you to re-take the CFOT exam or if you are not working in the fiber optic field, we will work with you to sign up for a CFOT review class.

What happens if an individual does not renew after the 3 year deadline?

The FOA follows international standards for certification that require that we verify the relevant professional/work status of everyone we certify.  You are either:

1.  Active - you have remained in the fiber optic industry and have renewed your certification every one, two or three years.  We will confirm your status to anyone who inquires about your credentials.

2.  Inactive -  If you have not renewed your certification in 3 years , we will inform anyone who asks that you took an FOA exam in the past but your certification is considered inactive -  your current professional/work status in the areas in which you were certified is unknown.

To re-establish your FOA certifications, you start by sending in your resume.  We will either arrange for you to re-take the CFOT exam online or if you are not working in the fiber optic field, we will work with you to sign up for a CFOT review class.

FOA Certifications Are Recognized By The US Department of Labor
DoL logo
FOA Certifications have been recognized by the US Department of Labor. The DoL reviews certifications and how they relate to job opportunities and training. The DoL Career OneStop website helps individuals explore career opportunities to make informed employment and education choices. The Web site features user-friendly occupation and industry information, salary data, career videos, education resources, self-assessment tools, career exploration assistance, and other resources that support talent development in today's fast-paced global marketplace.

Go to
FOA Certifications Listing By US Department of Labor - Career OneStop and search for "Fiber Optic Association" to see all the FOA certifications listed.

See also The DoL Occupational Outlook Handbook which has a page covering fiber optic technicians under "Line Installers and Repairers" and links to FOA certifications.

FOA is listed in  the section "How to Become a Line Installer or Repairer."

BLS recognizes FOA

This website lists all sorts of interesting information, including what these workers do in their jobs, how they get trained and certified (where the FOA is referenced) and something everybody is interested in - sections on "Pay" and "Job Outlook" - see the red arrow above.

Where In The US Do Contractors Need Licenses For Fiber Optics?

We often get asked where in the US do contractors doing fiber optic installations need licenses. We found a good website for that information, the NECA -NEIS website. You might remember NECA-EIS, as they are the partner with the FOA in the NECA/FOA 301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard. NECA is the National Electrical Contractors Association and NEIS stands for National Electrical Installation Standards. They have a very easy to use map and table that gives you data on every state in the US, so mark these pages for future reference.

NECA/NEIS (See “State Regulations”) (all electrical licensing)
Low Voltage:



  • Schools interested in FOA course approval should read this.

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