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Cable Splicer


As technology and communications systems have evolved we have become a 'wired' world. These advances in technology also created a need for people to maintain and install these networks of wires. Most of us have seen those workers perched atop electrical poles or gathered around electrical power boxes and wondered what they were doing. Well, chances are those workers are a type of cable worker called cable splicers. A cable splicer is a person who installs, splices, tests and repairs all types of high voltage cables, terminations and associated accessories.

These workers need to be knowledgeable about computerized machinery and efficient with hand tools. As all electrical wires are color-coded, good eyesight and color vision are essential to work as a cable splicer. Strong nerves are essential to work in this position as cable splicers face some potentially dangerous situations. From the risk of working with high voltage cables to exposure to hazardous chemicals such as the plugging compounds they use to splice cable these workers must always follow safety procedures. Cable splicers must be able to work efficiently and calmly at heights, hanging from poles in all types of weather.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
People employed as cable splicers have an aptitude for mechanics and mathematics. Cable splicers like to problem-solve, and they are able to interpret blueprints and electrical code specifications to complete a job. They must have excellent eye sight, especially color vision, as cables are color-coded. Cable splicers also need excellent hand-eye coordination as well as the ability to work well at heights.

Although most of the work a cable splicer will be called to do is routine they are sometimes called to work in difficult situations. It is important they are able to remain calm and focused while they are working with downed wires, in all sorts of weather and emergency situations.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Install, maintain and repair electrical distribution and transmission systems including overhead and underground power lines and cables, insulators, conductors, lightning arrestors, switches, transformers and other associated equipment
  • Erect and maintain steel, wood or concrete poles, towers and guy wires
  • Splice, solder and insulate conductors and related wiring to connect power distribution and transmission networks using splicing tools, related electrical equipment and tools
  • Inspect and test overhead and underground power line and cables and auxiliary equipment using electrical test equipment
  • Climb ladders or operate hydraulic buckets when working aloft on poles and towers, or work in confined spaces such as trenches and tunnels to install power lines and cables and associated equipment
  • Adhere to safety practices and procedures
  • Communicate with other workers to coordinate the preparation and completion of work assignments
  • Althoug, generally they will work a 40-hour week, cable splicers often need to work longer hours when unexpected weather circumstances arise. They are often on call and subject to 24-hour calls due to emergency situations. Cable splicers sometimes have to travel to distant locations and stay for a lengthy period to help restore damaged facilities. Besides the constantly changing location, cable splicers may also be found working underground or hanging from a utility pole depending on the task that needs to be performed that day.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Workers in this group are employed by electric power generation, transmission and distribution companies, electrical contractors, telecommunications companies and public utility commissions.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is not a lot of room for movement in this occupation. Those whose skills are adaptable towards the growing telecommunications field will have a better chance of movement within this occupational group. There may be room for advancement towards supervisory positions with seniority and additional education.

  Educational Paths  
Cable splicers receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a cable splicer, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percemt of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the cable splicer a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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