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Wired for learning

We live in an era of smartphones and smart homes. Whether you’re drafting a report on deadline from your home computer or engaging in NBA 2K on your PlayStation, you have fiber and data cable installers to thank.

No wonder it’s such a promising career field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which lists a median pay in excess of $61,000 for line installers and repairers.

Tidewater Community College’s Career Studies Certificate in Fiber and Data Cabling Installation is the ideal place to start if this field appeals to you and you enjoy hands-on troubleshooting. The TCC program prepares students to maintain, test, troubleshoot and repair fiber, data and video network systems.

It’s an occupation that combines technical work with physical flexibility. Technicians can be under the ground or above it. They can work outdoors or in.

“This program is best for those who work well with their hands and can think on their feet,” said instructor Robert Stover, who also teaches telecommunications for Virginia Beach Public Schools. “We all have voice, video and data in our homes, and when something goes wrong, we’re looking for providers to send well-trained technicians to fix the problem.”

TCC’s 16-credit program provides students a background in National Electrical Code and touches on the basics of alternating and directing current. Courses include National Electric Code, Fiber Optic Connections, Data Cabling Communications and A.C. and D.C. Circuit Fundamentals.

Upon completion of the program, students are qualified to sit for three industry certifications, administered by the Electronics Technicians Association, including Data Cabling Installer, Fiber Optic Installer and Residential Satellite Dish Installer.

It’s an ideal career path for transitioning military.

Thomas Bryant is training for a new career, after serving in the Merchant Marines. “I got married and now have two boys, and my wife wants me home,” he said. “This is a great program and definitely a hands-on education. The professors are there to help out.”

All credits earned can be applied to TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology.

Students can find work in new construction as well as rewire existing structures.

“The future looks bright for graduates,” Stover said. “I have a lot of vendors contacting me monthly looking for workers.”