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Jobs Outlook: Line Installers and Repairers




Overall employment of line installers and repairers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Much of this increase will result from growth in the construction and telecommunications industries. With the increasing competition in electrical distribution, many companies are contracting out construction of new lines. The introduction of new technologies, especially fiber optic cable, has increased the transmission capacity of telephone and cable television networks. This higher capacity has allowed the creation of new and popular services, such as high-speed Internet access. At the same time, deregulation of the telecommunications industry has reduced barriers to competition. Competition for local phone service and demand for high-speed Internet access is forcing former local telephone companies to update and modernize their networks. In some regions, underground telephone lines may be up to 50 years old and incapable of providing advanced services. Job growth also will stem from the maintenance and modernization of telecommunications networks. Besides those due to employment growth, many job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of older workers reaching retirement age.

Employment of telecommunications line installers and repairers is expected to grow about as fast as average as telephone and cable television companies expand and improve networks that provide customers with high-speed access to data, video, and graphics. Line installers and repairers will be needed not only to construct and install networks, but also to maintain the ever-growing systems of wires and cables. The average residential customer already has more than two telephone lines. Increased demand for high-speed Internet access and multiple telephone lines will require the improvement and expansion of local telephone-line networks. However, excess transmission capacity due to the overexpansion of fiber optic lines, especially long-distance lines, in recent years should significantly reduce employment demand. The need for maintenance work will be reduced by the improved reliability of fiber optic lines. The demand for additional telephone lines also will be tempered by the increasing use of wireless telephones. Wireless networks do not require as many technicians to maintain and expand their systems, a characteristic that will reduce job growth in the industry.

Little or no growth in employment of electrical powerline installers and repairers is expected through 2012. The demand for electricity has been consistently rising, driving the expansion of powerline networks, which tends to increase employment. However, industry deregulation is pushing companies to cut costs and maintenance, which tends to reduce employment. Most new jobs are expected to arise in the construction industry. Because electrical power companies have reduced hiring and training in past years, opportunities are best for workers who possess experience and training.