Communication technicians install and maintain wired or wireless networks for consumer and business communications.
They also maintain and repair various types of radio frequency (RF), transmission and switching equipment used to provide communication services.
To perform these functions, they must be:
- capable of using hand tools
- certified in the products that they support
- familiar with different program configurations and components
- capable of using test procedures to locate faults and isolate defective components
Installers working in customers' homes and businesses must be courteous, tactful and adaptable.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Working conditions vary greatly for communication technicians, depending upon the specific duties involved. Some work is primarily outdoors, while some is primarily indoors. Travel, shift work and overtime may be required.
Safe work practices are mandatory.
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy learning new and emerging technologies, and doing precise work that sometimes requires creativity.
To be successful in their trade, communication technicians need:
- mechanical ability and technical aptitude
- analytical ability
- good oral and written communication skills
Communication technicians are an integral part of many industries, including oil and gas, healthcare, forestry, education and utilities. Journeypersons are employed by companies that install, maintain, sell, rent or lease communication equipment in the public and private sectors.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally can range from $30 to $48 an hour, plus benefits.
Communication technicians may advance to positions such as foreman, superintendent, estimator, quality assurance inspector, and/or systems design or move into a management role. Some communication technicians start their own contracting business.
Membership in a trade union is voluntary although some contractors only employ union workers.
To work as a communication technician in Alberta, a person may:
- be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential, OR
- work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
- be self-employed
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for a communication technician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training, 6 weeks of technical training in the first 3 periods and 8 weeks of technical training in the final period.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Communication Technician trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the Prior Learning Assessment Online Application. For more information, see the Prior Learning Assessment Online Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a communication technician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice communication technicians earn at least 40 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 50 percent in the second, 60 percent in the third, and 75 percent in the fourth year.
- complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for Communication Technician apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrollment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
The communication technician trade does not participate in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta Equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.