Training Options for Optical Network Professionals: AUniversity Degree May Not Give Necessary Skills
For people in many industries, a university degree prepares one for a wide range for potential professions. For skills in a specific job position, industrial training courses and on the job training are often required. In fiber optic communications both vendor specific and vendor neutral options are available for certified fiber optic training and certified optical network training.
People in many professions, including network engineers, will agree that you are likely to learn more job specific skills in a few months on the job than you can acquire during a four-year degree program. This is because professional skills are very specific to the multitudes of job specific functions available. These skills are usually obtained through on the job training or by taking in-house or outsourced courses specifically tailored for the job function.
Optical network designers and planners working with certain vendor equipment may be required to take vendor specific courses. If your company uses Huawei equipment and your responsibility is to design 100Gbps long haul and metro networks, then you may be asked to take the Huawei Certified Network Professional course that focuses on designing optical networks using the Huawei Optix platform. If you are responsible for network testing using Yokogawa equipment, then you may have to take a Yokogawa specific testing course. The same applies for many other vendors.
But before you are hired and given the opportunity to train on the job, you may be required to demonstrate fundamental knowledge of fiber optic networking beyond your Engineering, Physics or related degree. This is the dreaded catch-22 where you need a job to acquire the experience and you need the experience to get the job.
Fortunately, there are a number of vendor neutral training courses in fiber optics or optical networking available for anyone with a relevant educational background to take. Such courses may substitute for the basic knowledge required by employers.
The most well-known of these courses are those offered by the Fiber Optic Association (FOA). FOA courses put an emphasis on fiber optics for technicians and include splicing, connectors, testing, OSP installation and fiber characterization.
Optical Technology Training (OTT) offers, through its partners worldwide, more specialized 5-day training courses for installers, characterization engineers, planners, project managers and operation staff. OTT’s fiber optic training courses, including Certified Optical Network Associate (CONA) and Certified Optical Network Engineer (CONE) courses do not only focus on the detailed properties and impairments in optical fibers but also on the photonic components, modules and processes that enable the encoding, transmission and decoding of optical signals over optical fiber. The courses also cover transmitters, receivers, WDM, modulation schemes and other related concepts.