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How To Get A Job In Antenna Tower Climbing
Cell phone and radio tower climbers ensure that the technology we take for granted works. The job of a professional tower climber is risky, but with proper safety gear and training these risks can be minimized so that it the industry suffers less fatalities than jobs such as truck driving. Professional tower climbers work on all types of towers in the communication industry, such as cellular towers, radio and TV broadcast towers, microwave relay systems, private radio systems, LORAN navigation, government radio towers and more.
Tower climbers may work in all types of weather to restore service to down cell phone systems and may routinely work at heights of over seven hundred feet. Many cell phone companies train from within with an apprentice type program. To be hired by a company as a ready to work tower climber most require at least two years experience and being a Certified Tower Climber with Rescue training and certification.
How To Become An Antenna Tower Climber
Aside from climbing there is much more to the job. A professional tower climber must be be skilled in communications technology, cable splicing and more. Tower climbers for cell phone companies are expected to know the industry standard wiring methods for equipment such as Andrew Heliax cable and cabinets, Ericcson cabinets and connectors, Siemens and other manufacturers. A tower climber may be an electronics school graduate who has worked as a telecommunications technician for a period of time.
Apprentice programs are in place at some cellular and radio tower companies whereby assistants work with a tower climber for a period of time before attending a climbing school for certification. Training programs include FAA/FCC rules, Competent Climber training, Climber Rescue, DOT, EME Awareness, OSHA, CPR and First Aid and more. Basic Competent Climber classes may last as little as two days, with advanced courses lasting three or more days at some schools. One such school is Comtrain which offers courses in rescue, competent climber and instructor training.
Climbing is of course a big part of the job but it is not THE job. The job is one of an advanced electronics and communications technician. This is the part of the training that takes the most time. Prospective antenna tower climbers will want to enroll in an electronics and communications technology training program such as at a junior college. Salaries for telecommunications technicians are in the $17.00 per hour range and a tower climber / technician may earn more than twice that amount when working aloft.
For a list of schools that offer telecommunications courses that can help you get an antenna climber job you can visit the website of National Cable and Telecommunications Assn.National Cable and Telecommunications Association
1724 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
What It's Like At The Top Of A Tower
As I write this article for eHelpfultips I recall when I worked as a communications tower climber for a short period of time. It was for an oil and gas company that had a series of radio towers along the Gulf Coast and I worked as an apprentice radio technician, climber's assistant and briefly as a climber. At that time there was no certification required. Just put on your harness and go up if you had the guts. At the top of the three hundred foot tower, which is not that tall by modern standards, you could feel the entire structure sway a couple of feet with each guts of the wind. Bird droppings made working on the signal light, (which was required by Federal Aviation Administration law to be inspected and replaced every few months,) a messy job. The view from atop a tower is like none you have ever seen. It is breathtaking to be at the top of a tall communications tower, though you seldom have a chance to take it all in and must complete the job and move on to the next one. When dark skies come it can be nerve wrecking, knowing that you are the highest object around for miles. Lighting safety is one of the things you are taught in climber school and OSHA classes. If you have a fear of heights, this is probably not the job for you. A tower climber I worked with told me of several men that thought they could overcome it, but who later froze when up on the tower. One remained there for several hours until rescue workers could help him down.
Current Job Outlook For Antenna Tower Climbers
Due to the recession there is a reduced demand for antenna tower climbers presently, however this is due to change. A number of factors, including consumer demand for 4G speed devices and the reallocation of the old analog TV frequencies to new services will mean more towers going up and modifications to existing communication equipment on existing towers. This will create a greater demand for certified tower climbers in the coming decade.
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