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KSAs for Fiber Optic Technicians


(Knowledge, Skills, Abilities)


The ability to perform any job requires certain abilities, knowledge and skills, commonly referred to as “KSAs.” For the fiber optic technician, these KSAs have been determined from over 30 years of experience in actual installations and training. The FOA has developed this list to provide training organizations and instructors a list of subjects that should be included in a basic training curriculum for CFOT certification. For those working in the field who wish to become CFOT certified, it is also a list of relevant topics for study, whether using the FOA textbooks, the FOA Online Reference Guide or other sources.

This is for technicians and is not necessarily a guide for college level curriculum in science or engineering. Missing here are the theoretical aspects necessary, for example optics, for designing optical fibers and other components. College level classes will need to cover vastly more material including appropriate math and physics than is appropriate for the typical fiber optic technician.

Certifications: CFOT, CPCT (Premises), CFOS/O (Outside Plant), CFOS/H (FTTx - fiber to the home)




KSA Requirements For FOA CFOT Certification


These basic KSAs apply to all advanced and specialist certifications also, with differences only in depth of knowledge and skills expected at that level.

Knowledge




Fiber Optic Jargon
Fiber optic terms
Metric System
Fiber Optic Communications Systems
How communications systems use light to transfer information
Components and their functions in a datalink
     Sources: LED, Laser (FP, DFB, VCSEL)
     Detectors (photodiode, APD; Si, Ge, InGaAs)
What determines how well a datalink transmits data
Optical Fiber
Types of optical fiber
     Step index MM , graded index MM, SM, specialty fibers
Basic specifications that affect transmission
     Attenuation, dispersion
Choosing the appropriate fiber for the system

Fiber Optic Cable
Types of cables and their applications
     Tight buffer (simplex, zipcord, distribution, breakout)
     Loose tube (loose tube, ribbon)
     Specialty (OPGW, underwater)
Relevant specifications for applications
     Water blocking, pulling strength, armoring, etc.
Choosing the proper cable for application
Termination and Splicing
Applications, appropriate uses
Relevant performance
     Loss, reflectance, strength
Splicing processes
     Mechanical
     Fusion
     Mass (ribbon) fusion
Hardware
Termination
Connector types
     ST, SC, LC, MTP, legacy connectors, etc.
Termination processes
     Adhesive (epoxy, anaerobic, HotMelt)
     Prepolished splice
     Prefab systems
Hardware
Testing
Microscope inspection
Visual tracing and fault location
Optical Power Testing
Loss Budgets
Insertion loss testing
OTDR testing
Long haul SM testing for  CD and PMD
Fiber Optic Network Design
Evaluating communications system requirements
Designing the proper cable plant
Layout
Choosing components
Loss and power budgets
Documentation
Fiber Optic Installation
Evaluating needs based on cable plant design
Planning for the installation
Safety
     Eye Safety
     Tool safety
     Chemical safety
     Disposal of materials
Basic knowledge of codes, standards, and regulations   
Performing Doing the installation
Documenting the cable plant



Skills



Fiber Optic Cable
Attaching pulling eye and rope to a cable
Pulling cable
Preparing cable for splicing or termination
Spicing
Preparing cable for splicing
Mechanical splicing
Fusion splicing
Termination
Identifying connectors
Preparing cables for termination
Installing connectors
Inspecting connectors
Testing
Microscope inspection
Visual tracing and fault location
Power Measurements
Insertion loss testing
OTDR testing



Abilities



Good eyesight with color rendition
Good hand-eye coordination
Use of hand and power tools
Analytical skills
Follow directions
Patience
Work in adverse conditions
And more than a little curiosity doesn’t hurt!




KSA Requirements For FOA CPCT Certification



The FOA CPCT Premises Cabling Certification requires knowledge and skills in the installation of both copper and fiber optic cabling plus cabling for wireless. As a result, the breadth of knowledge and skills for this certification is greater than many other certifications, but the depth of the knowledge is somewhat less. These KSAs are covered in depth as the CPCT can be taught independent of the CFOT for those whose work is only in premises cabling applications.

Knowledge Cabling Systems Copper Cabling Fiber Optic Cabling Wireless
Overview What are cabling systems
Where are they used
Types of copper cabling systems
Where they are used
Legacy systems
Where is fiber used and why
What applications does it support
Why use wireless
How does it fit into a structured cabling system
Jargon Cabling systems jargon and standards Copper cabling systems jargon and standards
Fiber optic cabling systems jargon and standards Wireless systems jargon and standards
Communications Systems What types of communications systems use structured cabling How do communications systems use copper cabling
Power over Ethernet
How do communications systems use fiber optic cabling How do communications systems use wireless
Cabling Generic use of cabling Types of copper cabling used in premises cabling systems Types of fiber optic cabling used in premises cabling systems Types of cabling used by wireless in premises cabling systems
Termination and Splicing
Where connectors and punch-downs are used
Relevant performance specifications
Hardware needed (e.g. patch panels, patchcords, etc.)
Where connectors and splices are used
Types of connectors and splices and applications
Relevant performance specifications
Hardware needed (e.g. patch panels, patchcords, etc.)
Relevant cabling to connect wireless access points
Testing
Test requirements for UTP cable certification or verification
Troubleshooting
Microscope inspection
Visual tracing and fault location
Optical Power
Loss budgets
Insertion loss testing
OTDR testing
Troubleshooting

Design Evaluating communications system requirements
Designing the proper cable plant
Layout
Choosing components
Loss budgets
Documentation
As specific for copper cabling As specific for fiber optic cabling As specific for cabling for wireless and location of wireless access points
Installation Evaluating needs based on cable plant design
Planning for the installation
Safety
Eye Safety
Tool safety
Chemical safety
Disposal of materials
Basic knowledge of Codes, standards, and Regulations   
Performing the installation (including grounding and bonding, firestopping, etc.)
As specific for copper cabling As specific for fiber optic cabling As specific for cabling for wireless and  wireless access points
Skills
Copper Cable
Pulling cable
Placing cable in trays, J-hooks, etc.
Preparing cable for splicing or termination

Punchdowns

Preparing cable for punchdowns
Color codes
Maintaining performance at punchdowns

Termination

Preparing cables for termination
Installing connectors
Maintaining performance at connectors

Testing

Certification testing
Verification
Testing
TDR testing
Fiber Optic Cable
Attaching pulling eye and rope to a cable
Pulling cable
Preparing cable for splicing or termination

Spicing

Preparing cable for splicing
Mechanical splicing
Fusion splicing

Termination

Identifying connectors
Preparing cables for termination
Installing connectors
Inspecting connectors

Testing

Microscope inspection
Visual tracing and fault location
Optical Power
Insertion loss testing
OTDR testing
Wireless AP Cabling
(Fiber or copper as appropriate)
Abilities Good eyesight with color rendition
Good hand-eye coordination
Be able to use hand and power tools
Analytical skills
Follow directions
Patience
Work in adverse conditions







KSA Requirements For FOA Outside Plant Certification (CFOS/O)



The FOA has an Outside Plant Cabling Specialist Certification (CFOS/O) and these are the  KSAs. OSP installation requires knowledge and skills in the installation of fiber optic cabling underground, aerial and undersea. As a result, the breadth of knowledge and skills for this certification is greater than other other certifications, but the depth of the knowledge is somewhat less.


Knowledge



Fiber Optic Jargon
    Fiber optic terms
    Metric System

Fiber Optic Communications Systems

How communications systems use light to transfer information
OSP Systems: Telco including wireless antennas and FTTH, CATV, Utility, Municipal networks, etc.
Components and their functions in a datalink
Sources: LED, Laser (FP, DFB, VCSEL)
Detectors (photodiode, APD; Si, Ge, InGaAs)
What determines how well a datalink transmits data

Optical Fiber

Types of optical fiber
SI MM , GI MM, SM
Basic specifications that affect transmission
Attenuation, dispersion
Choosing the appropriate fiber for the system

Fiber Optic Cable

Types of cables and their applications
Tight buffer (simplex, zipcord, distribution, breakout)
Loose tube (loose tube, ribbon)
Specialty (OPGW,  ADSS,  Sky Span, underwater, air blown tubing systems and cable, flat saw-groove cable and conduit)
Relevant specifications for applications
Water blocking, Types of Water Blocking. Advantages,  pulling strength, armoring, Types of Armoring, etc.  Reverse Oscillating Lay (ROL)
Choosing the proper cable for application
Conduit, innerduct, cable pullers, pulling eyes, lubricants, etc.


Termination and Splicing

Uses
Relevant performance
Loss, reflectance, strength

Splicing processes

Mechanical
Fusion
Mass (ribbon) fusion
Hardware, closures
Fitting splices in trays, trays in closures, sealing, Pressure testing, Installing on Poles,
Installing and racking cable in manholes Maintenance holes


Termination

Connector types
ST, SC, LC, MTP, etc.
Termination processes
    Spliced-on pigtails
    Adhesive (epoxy, anaerobic, HotMelt)
    Prepolished splice
Prefab cabling systems
Hardware

Testing

Microscope inspection
Visual tracing and fault location
Fiber identification
Optical power testing
Loss budgets
 Insertion loss testing
OTDR testing, setup for long cables
Long haul SM testing for  CD and PMD

Fiber Optic Network Design

Evaluating communications system requirements
Aerial, direct buried, pulled in conduit, submarine and other installations
Designing the proper cable plant
Layout
Choosing components
Loss and power budgets
Documentation

Fiber Optic Installation

Evaluating needs based on cable plant design
Planning for the installation
Safety (OSHA  Requirements)
Eye Safety
Tool safety
Chemical safety
Disposal of materials
Basic knowledge of Codes, standards, and Regulations
Installation tools and equipment: cable pullers, plows, bucket trucks, splicing trailers,  Directional Boring Equipment,  Concrete saws and drills, etc.   
Performing the installation
Documenting the cable plant


Skills


General Installation

Using ladders, bucket trucks, etc. Safe installation distances,
    Climbing poles and Towers  for aerial installation

Fiber Optic Cable

Attaching pulling eye and rope to a cable STRENGTH MEMBER
Pulling cable
Figure 8 Pulls
Preparing cable for splicing or termination (stripping cable and fiber)

Spicing

Preparing cable for splicing
Mechanical splicing
Fusion splicing
Fitting splices in trays, trays in closures, sealing

Termination

Identifying connectors
Preparing cables for termination
Breakout kits on loose tube cable
Installing connectors
Inspecting connectors

Protection Of Cable

    In Transit
    In Storage
    At the Work Site
    Under Blasting Conditions
    Vibration Protection

Grounding

    Cables with metallic armor
    Enclosures
    Hardware on poles, etc
    Distribution buildings

Maintenance hole ladders, trays etc


Testing

Microscope inspection
Visual tracing and fault location
Insertion loss testing
OTDR testing and troubleshooting
PMD Testing
CD Testing



Abilities


Good eyesight with color rendition

Good hand-eye coordination
Be able to use hand and power tools
Analytical skills
Follow directions
Patience  -  GOOD, Very Important
Work in adverse conditions





KSA Requirements For FOA FTTx Certification (CFOS/H)


FOA has worked with many FTTx service providers and contractors to train and certify installation techs. While the FOA has a FTTx curriculum and certification based on the optical network, there is another category of FTTx tech who is responsible for customer premises installation. To cover that job function, we have added a second set of KSAs that covers the FTTx Customer Premises (CP) Tech  to help trainers understand the needs of CP techs.

Part 1. KSAs For FOA FTTx Tech Certification - CFOS/H

FOA CFOS/H certification KSAs applies to techs interested in understanding the entire topic of FTTx, including FTTH architectures, components, protocols, etc.) It is assumed these techs are going to be designers, installers or managers of these projects. They may be involved in installing distribution and drop cables, OLTs and ONTs, FDHs, etc. so they need a thorough knowledge of PONs and associated hardware. Most of these workers, but especially the installers, should have a CFOT.

Knowledge
This assumes the tech has the basic knowledge of a CFOT or equivalent.

What is FTTx? Why is it an issue now?
The types of FTTx (FTTC (curb, also sometimes FTTN for node), FTTH (home), FTTP (premises), etc.
Advantages/disadvantages of each type of FTTx
Different types of FTTH architectures (active/P2P, PON)
Advantages/disadvantages of different types of FTTH architectures
Differences between PONs and traditional fiber networks
Standardized PON network types (BPON, GPON, EPON, RFOG)
Future developments in PONs
PON network cabling architectures
Cabling for single family and MDU (multi-dwelling) installations
PON cabling options (traditional fiber, prefab components, special components developed for PONs)
Testing PONs (OLTS and OTDR)

Skills
Those taking this course may be working in several areas - design, installation, service, even management. The skills for installation are similar to the CFOT but those with other job functions may need specialized skills appropriate to their total job responsibility.

Installation

CFOT skills (cables, splicing, termination - generally prepolished/splice-on connectors, testing - PONs)
For prefab systems, special handling, installation, cleaning, testing

Abilities - Installation

CFOT abilities:
Good eyesight with color rendition
Good hand-eye coordination
Manual dexterity
Use of hand and power tools
Analytical skills
Follow directions
Patience
Work in adverse conditions


Part 2. KSAs For FTTH Customer Premises Techs (CFOS/H plus additional training)

There is another class of FTTH installers/techs that are mainly involved with the drops to the house, connecting the ONT to the PON network and then connecting customer devices (phone, Internet routers and TVs.) These techs require a different set of KSAs that may exclude the technical detail onn fiber included in the traditional FTTx tech but include installing the ONT, checking service connections, then connecting and sometimes providing service and training to the customer. Due to the limited fiber optics skills needed but the added installation skills used for UTP and coax copper cables and WiFi, a FOA CPCT certification would be good preparation.

Knowledge

Basic knowledge of fiber optics (fiber, cable, links, installation, test)
Basics of GPON systems (architecture, ONTs, OLTs, splitters)
How ONTs work (connecting to the PON network, outputs for voice/data/video)
Building and electrical codes relating to installation of premises cabling.
Cabling for single family and MDU (multi-dwelling) installations (types of cable/connectors (fiber/UTP/coax), methods for installing cable indoors (depending on cable types, components chosen by the provider, may include penetrating walls, pulling cables in walls, sticking cables to molding, etc.)
Termination processes used by provider (if not using prefab assemblies)
Providing power to ONT including setting up backup power if used.
Connecting and testing operation of ONTs.
Connecting POTS phones with UTP cable (may include installing and terminating cable)
Connecting computers to Internet (wired or wireless) and doing setup for PCs, MACs, Chromebooks, etc. (may involve installing Cat 5e/6 UTP cable to computer, setting up wireless access points, installing MOCA system on coax, routers and switches)
Connecting TVs to ONT and setting up control boxes (may involve running coax cable including termination, connecting control boxes and TVs, programming TVs and remotes)
How to deal with customers (how to dress, act, be courteous, answer questions, etc.)
How to negotiate with customer on installation methods so they are not upset with the modifications to their residence made in the installation.
How to clean up after installation to ensure the customer will be happy.

Skills

Cable and equipment installation (fiber installation using components chosen for the project (may include prefab cable assemblies, special drop cables, quick connectors, etc.), ONTs, UTP and Coax cable, power connections)
Computer, phone and TV setup and troubleshooting
Use of appropriate tools including woodworking tools for installing in customer premises
Installation, programming and troubleshooting of phones, computers and networks (wired and wireless) and TVs
Dealing with people, explaining what you are doing, answering questions and showing them how to use the new equipment

Abilities

CFOT Abilities (above)
Patience in dealing with people
Enjoyment of dealing with people



To get started on FOA certification:

Use the Fiber U Study Guides to prepare for the FOA Exams
 

Apply Directly: FOA CFOT or CPCT Application (new, non-FOA School) (pdf)
 
Find an FOA-Approved school


More on FOA certifications 




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