Outside Plant Engineer
Outside-Plant OSP Engineers are telecommunications experts that implement telecommunications infrastructure such as underground & aerial fiber optic installations. These engineers are the backbone of telecom and service provider companies since they are the primary designers of the entire Fiber network.
Roles of an Outside Plant Manager
An OSP Telecom Engineer is responsible for designing detailed engineering plans, costs, and schedules related to their projects. They should have an in-depth understanding of outside plant facilities such as cable sizing, cable counts, and cable records. Additionally, OSPs need to look into the drawings of all underground and above-ground elements and proposed work to provide critical engineering guidance to any involved departments if there are any logistical oversights in the planning. This feedback helps to ensure that the infrastructure is properly installed on time and within budget. On top of giving feedback on the long-term scope of their projects, Outside Plant Engineers are also responsible for overseeing day-to-day tasks within their projects. As issues arise during the installation of telecommunications infrastructure, OSP Engineers need to ensure their team has access to the correct equipment to solve these issues such as fiber cable storage, termination, and access equipment.
If there happen to be damaged wires in the cabling system an engineer should be able to monitor and manage the fiber splicing. Fiber splicing is the process of joining two cables together through either mechanical or fusional means. This process allows technicians to patch an area where there is a bad connection rather than installing an entirely new cable. As the connections are made throughout the system, OSPs have to evaluate and approve the installed fiber test characteristics.
In case of emergency, Outside Plant Engineers provide immediate assistance to clients when issues arise. For example, if inclement weather damages a connection, an OSP will assess the damage and ensure that all of the new installations are in place. These engineers need to learn from the issues that have affected their systems in the past and create a plan that maximizes the longevity of the equipment while minimizing the loss of productivity due to downtime.
It is the responsibility of the OSP Engineer to oversee and maintain existing and ongoing projects. As these projects progress, the professional needs to identify OSP engineering problems and come up with innovative solutions to address them. The OSP Engineer should then apply a specific engineering discipline to plan, design, and implement telecommunications systems, networks, and plant facilities. These plans help define the implementation of future plant construction or modification of existing facilities. In this process, the professional needs to play an active role when it comes to creating a budget for implementing updated services, technologies, and industry requirements. In order to develop constructive drawings or designs to solve these issues, they need to work with drafting and GIS personnel. Engineering overlay and appropriate engineering and construction notes should be provided by the OSP Engineer.
Once the initial planning phase is over, the OSP Engineer will have to ensure all network quality requirements are followed by everyone under their charge. Additionally, OSPs must take care of the aerial and underground construction and engineering requirements. Outside plant construction techniques must be understood in depth to effectively handle issues related to fiber networking, routing, and network management. Throughout their projects, OSP specialists will have to discover mitigation and restoration methods for emergencies such as fiber damage, power failures, and other disasters. To maintain this balance, OSPs need to effectively multitask and communicate with their teams.
During a project's duration, the OSP Engineer manages the project expenditures, creates progress reports, and recommends solutions to management. They have to perform mathematical and statistical analyses and prepare reports related to specific engineering and construction activities. The professionals will assist the other departments during the operation and maintenance of the plant. The following list defines some roles that play a prominent part in this job profile:
- Adheres to the industry standard regarding construction and maintenance of the entire OSP structure
- Assumes full responsibility for the safety and security of the existing OSP facility
- Determines the scope, budget, and schedules for existing and new OSP projects
- Submits weekly project status reports to the reporting managers
- Delivers project installations within the stipulated time
- Follows engineering standards and works as per market engineering specifications
- Develops aerial and underground fiber route maps and executes tasks such as route analysis
- Assumes the charge of fiber optic verification and all cable route mapping activities
- Maintains records of all fiber cable splicing and topography
- Develops mitigation and restoration procedures for emergency conditions
- Possesses proper knowledge of CAD and other software applications used to create engineering designs
- Inspects OSP networks
- Grants the proper permissions to execute OSP projects
- Guides junior employees to achieve project goals.
The OSP telecom engineer must have a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering or any field related to it. They can pursue electrical and/or electronics engineering, electrical and/or electronics communications engineering, or telecommunications engineering. These courses will cover various subjects such as fiber optic cable splicing, CAD, networking, and other related fields.
Unlike other job profiles, OSP certification courses are unique in the field. Many online courses are available for the interested candidate.
Some of the courses a candidate can take are:
BICSI OSP Designer Certification
The BICSI OSP Designer Certification validates the candidate’s skills to plan, develop, and supervise outside plant projects. This certification teaches individuals about workable or buildable OSP cabling systems. The professionals will have the ability to manage the procurement, deployment, and verification of an OSP design. The OSP credential recognizes individuals with extensive experience and knowledge of designing and integrating OSP systems to meet codes, standards, and performance requirements. Many organizations today require the BICSI OSP credential for designers on outside plant projects and project managers on larger projects.
To apply for the BICSI OSP Certification, a fully completed online OSP Exam Application and proof of continuing education document must be submitted to BICSI. OSP design experience will be verified by BICSI to ensure that the quality of work qualifies the candidate to take the BICSI OSP exam.
Those with the OSP credential demonstrate to their clients and employers that they are uniquely qualified and know the correct methods and approach to plan, develop, manage and supervise outside plant projects safely and effectively.
Fiber-to-the-x Outside Plant Design Certification
Fiber to the x (FTTx) is a collective term for various optical fiber delivery topologies that are categorized according to where the fiber terminates. For instance, FTTB stands for fiber to the building or fiber to the basement while FTTH refers to fiber to the home.
The Outside Plant Design (FTTx-OSP Design) certification program is sponsored and operated by the Fiber Broadband Association. An FTTx-OSP Design certification indicates professional competency in FTTH outside plant design, including FTTH and FTTB.
This certification Outside Plant Design (FTTx-OSP Design) consists of demonstrating knowledge and familiarity with FTTH Passive Optical Network (PON) and Active Ethernet (AE) architectures, Outside Plant design, and deployment technologies. The Certification does not target specific products or equipment but rather prepares network designers, operators, and administrators to develop professional competencies in fiber optic cable implementation. There is a requirement for intermediate to expert level fiber optic knowledge and terminology, as well as field experience, and equivalent formal training, such as the FTTx OSP Design course.
During the three-day FTTx-OSP Design course, attendees will learn how to apply critical factors like customer take rate and density to outside plant design. The purpose of this course is to prepare industry professionals for the FTTx-OSP Design exam offered by the Association.
Certified Outside Plant Fiber Optic Specialist
The Certified Outside Plant Fiber Optic Specialist is a certification offered by The Fiber Optic Association that teaches candidates how to properly identify OSP fiber cabling types and various outside plant closures utilized in OSP fiber installation. FOA specialist certifications are available in two ways. Attending an FOA-approved training course and taking the FOA exam or completing a Work-To-Cert program.
Through Work-To-Cert programs, engineers need to demonstrate appropriate field experience before applying to the FOA to take the exam online. All direct FOA certifications require documented experience in the application. Those without experience may take the courses online at Fiber U and get a Fiber U certification of completion which can be submitted as part of the requirements when applying for certification.
OSP Telecom Engineer Salary
According to Payscale, the average salary for an Outside Plant Engineer runs around $68,862 per year. Based on your certifications and years of experience in the field, Salary.com estimates Outside Plant engineers earn between $68,894 and $87,273 annually with a median salary of $77,587. Certification generally requires 36 months of study and experience. Employee tenures per position last from one to three years.
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