Telecommunication jobs started in the 1880s, when the telephone was first put to commercial use. As the need for more telephone lines to connect distant points around the country; line installers and cable splicers were trained and employed to construct and maintain these lines.
In the construction of new telephone lines, line installers first must dig holes and erect the telephone poles or towers that are used to support the cables. They then climb the erected poles and install the equipment and the cables, usually leaving the ends free for the cable splicers to connect later. To join sections of power line and to conduct transformers and electrical accessories line installers splice, solder, and insulate the conductors together. In some area where telephone lines are underground, line installers place the cables in underground conduits.
Part of a telecommunications career is repairing and maintenance on existing lines. Repairing and maintaining existing lines occupy a major part of the line installer’s time. When wires or cables break or a pole is knocked down the line installer is sent immediately to make emergency repairs. The line crew supervisor is notified when there is a break in a line and is directed to the trouble spot by the trouble locator, who keeps a check on the condition of lines in a given area.
During the course of routine periodical inspection, the line installer also makes minor repairs and line changes if needed. When finished constructing lines the installers have completed the installation of poles, wires, and cables or underground conduits. Then cable splicers complete the line connections. The splicers may do their work on aerial platforms, in manholes, or in underground vaults where the cables are located. Sometimes they may work on board a marine craft when slicing underwater cables. To join the individual wires within the cable, splicers must cut the lead sheath and insulation from the cables. They then test or phase out each conductor to identify corresponding conductors in adjoining cable sections according to electrical diagrams and specifications. At each splice, they either wrap insulation around the wires and seal the joint with a lead sleeve or cover the splice with some other type of closure. Sometimes they fill the sheathing with gas under pressure to keep out moisture
For positions of both line installer and cable splicer most telephone companies prefer to hire inexperienced applicants with a high school or vocational-school education. Applicants must be in excellent physical condition, with manual dexterity and the ability to distinguish colors. Some knowledge of the basic principles of electricity is helpful, too.
In achieving telecommunication employment, a pre-employment test is given to determine aptitudes and physical examinations to applicants. Once hired, the new employee becomes a helper and must successfully complete a training program and be supervised during the first duration on their job.
Both the line installer and the cable splicer must continue to receive training throughout their careers to qualify for advancement to keep up with the constant technological changes that occur in the telephone industry. Usually it takes line installer six years to reach top pay for their job, and cable splicers five to seven years. After reaching the top of the field there are many advancement opportunities in the telephone industry. For instance, if line installers have certain personal characteristics such as the ability to deal with people, good judgment, and planning skills, they may progress to a crew supervisor. With some additional training, the line installer or the cable splicer may advance to telephone installer, telephone repairer, or another higher rated position.
As for hours concerned working on the job, most line installers and cable splicers have a regular forty-hour workweek, with extra pay for overtime and weekend work.