Your guide to becoming a Fibre Engineer
The fibre market continues to go from strength to strength. In 2021, it was worth £7.2 billion, and this is expected to surge to £14.4 billion by 2027. In the UK, developments in the fibre industry have been growing, as with the recent milestone with the CityFibre network build project.
As careers in this market become more popular, we thought we’d take a look at one of the most popular and in-demand roles out there.
In this blog, we’ll give you an overview of becoming a Fibre Engineer. This is a field-based position which is essential to any fibre installation programme.
Read on for more information!
What does a Fibre Engineer do?
Before we go on, it’s worth pointing out that you might see this role referred to by other names on job adverts. These could be:
Fibre Cabling Engineer
Fibre Optic Engineer
Fibre Installation Engineer
Either way, your job will predominantly be to install, prepare, test and maintain fibre build networks. This will see you work on both new and existing projects. You will find yourself doing a lot of physical work – whether it’s from a height, in underground telecommunication chambers, or in street cabinets.
Here are some of the general daily duties of a Fibre Engineer.
Installing fibre cables to customer premises
Setting up network connection points
Fitting cabinet backboards
Duct Integrity Testing
Liaising with customers, both before and after installations
How much does a Fibre Engineer earn?
Fibre Engineer salaries can range from anywhere between £27,000 and £43,000 per year. Generally, you’ll find most roles advertised at £30,000-£35,000, either side of the UK average which is currently £32,900.
What skills do you need?
This can be a physically demanding role, so you’ll need a good basic level of strength and fitness, as well as the ability to work at heights or underground. Safety is critical, so you must be capable of staying focused at all times and not skipping any necessary steps.
Communication skills are key, both written and verbal. You’ll need to be able to follow instructions to a tee, and liaise with customers in a professional manner. As mentioned earlier, this will be both before and after installations. You’ll have to explain the connections to customers and ensure they are satisfied – so an ability to simplify technical information for people would be really helpful.
As a Fibre Engineer, you’ll have lots of different things to juggle, so you need an excellent approach to time management and a deep level of attention to detail. Remember fibre optics has a lot of technical intricacies – you’ll need to spot any issues and proactively solve them.
What experience and knowledge do you need?
Any previous experience in Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) or Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) will help you make a strong case to hiring managers. Things to highlight include your knowledge of fibre blowing, splicing, aerial cabling and Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) ducting. Those without direct Fibre experience also have a good chance if they can demonstrate work in a parallel industry such as Utilities, Construction or Telecoms –perhaps for the likes of Virgin and Openreach.
Experience with Blown Fibre Installation is also preferable for a lot of companies, but this isn’t always essential. Companies are happy to offer additional training to people who have worked on other telecoms cabling. So, as long as you’re adaptable and have a can-do attitude, you’ll have a great chance.
If you’re keen to get into a job like this but have no experience at all, there are still opportunities for you. For example, we work with some Build Partners who run trainee programmes. These programmes combine classroom and on-the-job training, with the ultimate aim of you becoming a fully qualified Fibre Engineer.
What qualifications do you need?
Known in the Fibre industry as ‘tickets’, certifications aren’t always necessary. After all, your experience and skillset is more important, and tickets can of course always be earned. However it always helps to have certain qualifications.
One of the most useful is The New Roads and Street Works Act Accreditation (NRSWA). This is known as ‘streetworks training’ and shows you’re qualified to carry out work that includes breaking up streets, or tunnelling under streets. If you don’t currently have this, you might be interested to learn that some of our Build Partners at CityFibre offer this training!
Some candidates who’ve worked for companies like BT find that they’re unable to take their NRSWA tickets with them. This shouldn’t worry you too much if you see a job advert where this ticket is desired. In most cases, employers will understand the situation – they will still give you a job offer, and simply send you on a test to get the certification again.
Another highly valued ticket is a PIA accreditation. This shows that you’re cleared to safely work with and install PIA ducts and pole infrastructure.
Finally, a full UK Driving Licence isn’t essential, but will be helpful if you’re applying to work on a site which is quite remote.
How can you progress?
Once you get in as a Fibre Engineer, you’ll see multiple opportunities open up for you. A common step up is to become a Fibre Supervisor. This is where you’ll oversee the teams of Fibre Engineers who are installing fibre networks.
Becoming a Fibre Supervisor will feel like a natural move if you have the right leadership skills – but there are other progression opportunities too.
For example, you could become a Planner. This is where you help set up the projects and schedules for fibre installation projects. Currently, the average salary for this role is £47,000 and above, so it’s a good move up.
Another option is to become a Delivery Manager – here you’ll be taking full ownership for multiple fibre projects, often within specific geographic regions. The average salary for this is £49,400, but you may see some jobs advertised as high as £65,000.
Many businesses also like to train people to become Project Managers specifically for Fibre installations. The earning potential here is higher than it is for Project Managers in other industries – with salaries of up to £65,000, as opposed to the UK average for Project Managers which is £47,500.
The key takeaway
The growth of the Fibre industry is only heading in one direction, and now is a great time to get onto the job ladder. Fibre Engineers are in demand – if it’s something you’re interested in, then hopefully this blog has given you some valuable insight on the ins and outs.