The FOA, founded in 1995 as the non-profit professional society of fiber optics, has become the internationally recognized certification body for fiber optics. Over 250 FOA-Approved schools have certified over 32,000 techs in about 40 countries - and those techs are one of the reasons why fiber optics has become so widely utilized. FOA cetification is the most recognized and required certification in fiber optics.
- Frequently Asked Questions From Instructors
What Are The Advantage of Being An FOA Approved School?
- What must I do to get my course approved?
Organizations must submit a course outline, notes and inform us of the textbook used for FOA inspection on each course submitted for approval. If a course is not approved upon submission, reasons will be given and the course may be resubmitted with changes. All instructors giving the course must be currently FOA certified at the CFOT level as a minimum. CFOS/I certification is required within 12 months for all new instructors. Here are more details. Here are full instructions and an application in a PDF file. Here is an online application.
- Do all courses include hands-on exercises?
The FOA approves classes for CFOT certifications based on many different types of fiber optic applications, e.g. outside plant, premises, manufacturing, military, etc. so all courses must have appropriate hands-on labs. The FOA assumes that each CFOT student has been taught skills, as a minimum, how to terminate and test fiber optic cables. Many classes also include splicing, but covering it in class is adequate for meeting FOA standards. Likewise insertion loss testing is expected but hands-on OTDRs are optional, as long as the basics of when and how to use them are covered in class. Advanced and specialist classes must also have application-specific hands-on, e.g. CFOS/S courses teach splicing, CFOS/D has classroom exercises in designing hypothetical fiber optic networks.
- What are requirements for Instructors?
- Instructors must also be certified. All new schools must have their instructors study and obtain CFOS/I certification. Instructors teaching advanced or specialist courses should have those certifications before teaching the courses to fully understand the course and certification requirements. See http://www.thefoa.org/TTT/index.html for more information on instructor certification.
- What does it cost for school approval?
Nothing! FOA is a non-profit organization chartered to promote fiber optics through activities like education. Thus we do not charge when we approve schools that meet our criteria to make quality fiber optic education more available. We even allow instructors at new schools to take the CFOT test at no cost, but instructors must maintain their CFOTs at normal renewal prices. Renewals may be done online at FOArenew.org.
- Do schools have to renew their approval?
We require each school to return a survey each year to update us every year on whether they are still teaching a course, who the school primary contact and instructors are and if the information on the FOA website of approved schools is correct. Schools which do not respond to our mailings each year will be dropped from the list of approved schools, so it is important to keep the FOA advised on changes in address or contacts.
- What does the CFOT exam cost the schools?
The schools must pay the FOA a nominal fee for each student (see application form) submitted as a new CFOT or other certification. Most schools include the CFOT exam in the cost of their course.
- What does the exam cover?
The CFOT exam covers basic fiber optics, components, network design and installation practice. The FOA has created their own textbooks on which the exam is based, along with the NECA/FOA-301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard and other online references such as the FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide To Fiber Optics. Courses should cover similar material to the book. We recommend that CFOT candidates read the textbook and answer all the chapter questions or use the online page self-study programs for review for the exam.
- How is the CFOT exam administered?
FOA approved schools are given access to the FOA school/instructor download site that includes the exams and instructions. Schools must print the exams, applications and answer sheets themselves. Schools must proctor the exam, as it is a closed-book exam, usually done by the instructor. Two versions of the exam are on the CD, so students can have separate exams to prevent copying. Students should 1) fill in an application, 2) be given an exam copy and answer sheet, 3)take the exam. Instructors may have each student grade their own exam, as they will learn from the questions they miss.
- FOA Exams are also available online for instructors and with special permission, students retaking the tests or in remote locations.
- What is a passing grade on the exam?
The passing grade is 70% for all FOA exams, unless otherwise specified.
- What happens if a student fails?
They may take the exam again, but should study the text and complete all the chapter exercises first during a waiting period. The exam may be taken 3 times.
- Who gives the student their certificate?
The school should create a certificate for the student which includes identification of the school, the instructor and includes that a CFOT certification was earned in addition to the completion of the course.
- How does the school notify the FOA of a student's CFOT?
The school should promptly send a copy of the students applications along with payment of student fee to the FOA. It is important to do so promptly, as we often get calls from students soon after completing class and unless we have received the information from the schools, we cannot help them. This has become especially important since the FOA started the online database for CFOTs and students want to get listed promptly after certification.
- What address should the student use on their application?
The student must give the FOA a valid, permanent mailing address so the FOA can send them their credentials. This is a big problem with military students. Tell them to give a permanent address like their parents if they are moving a lot.
- What should the student expect from the FOA?
The student will receive an identification card which shows their name, certifications and expiration dates.
- Do CFOTs expire?
The CFOT does not expire as long as the certificant remains in the field and keeps their FOA membership current. The FOA will send renewals to CFOTs annually (or when their applications expire.) Unless the CFOT renews it annually, or we do not have a current address and cannot mail an ID card to them, we assume they are not active in fiber optics and note that status on our internal database and drop their listing in the installer database. If we get an inquiry from a potential customer or employer, we will report that whether they are a CFOT and whether they are listed as active or inactive in our database.
Note: We do not penalize military personnel stationed overseas. They can renew when they return.
- Does the FOA evaluate school performance?
The FOA may distribute a FOA course evaluation form to a student along with their ID card. They will be requested to return the form directly to The FOA. FOA personnel may attend any course at any time to evaluate the course presented and instructor performance.
What is the procedure for use of FOA approval in promoting courses?
Approved courses may be listed as such on the promotional material provided by the organization providing the training. A " FOA Approved" seal may be used and the following statement: "This course meets the training requirements set by The Fiber Optic Association. FOA CFOT (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) certification testing is offered to all students."
Can the FOA withdraw approval?
Approval of the course may be withdrawn at any time with 30 day notice if the course fails to meet FOA requirements, is given by a non-FOA CFOT instructor, if unresolved complaints are received regarding the course or the school violates other FOA requirements. See the FOA Instructor Code of Conduct.
- Can FOA approved schools offer FOA advanced certifications?
Absolutely. The FOA has changed requirements for schools offering advanced certifications (CFOS/T,S,C, etc.) to make it easier to understand, create courses and administer advanced certifications. Go to the FOA website to get more details.
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