Installer training and registration program launched

Bicsi (Tampa, FL), a telecommunications association known for several years as the industry body overseeing the design of building cabling systems, is now launching a program to train and register cabling installers. Bicsi`s registered communications distribution designer (Rcdd) designation will be joined this fall by apprentice, installer and technician categories in a three-level program that will be officially launched at Cabling Installation Expo `96, to be held at the Charlotte Convention C

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Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Bicsi (Tampa, FL), a telecommunications association known for several years as the industry body overseeing the design of building cabling systems, is now launching a program to train and register cabling installers. Bicsi`s registered communications distribution designer (Rcdd) designation will be joined this fall by apprentice, installer and technician categories in a three-level program that will be officially launched at Cabling Installation Expo `96, to be held at the Charlotte Convention Center (Charlotte, NC) on October 7 to 11.

Bicsi Executive Director Jay Warmke says that the first set of classes, to be held the week of the Expo and limited to 16 students per level, is already full. He expects another set of classes, to be held the following week, to fill up shortly. The Installation Training and Registration Program (Itrp), however, is only one of the training initiatives being launched at Expo. A series of basic, intermediate and advanced workshops that is independent of the Itrp is expected to attract a total of 1000 participants during Expo week.

Catalog lists prerequisites

This summer, Bicsi mailed its 1996 Itrp Installation Program Catalog, which lists prerequisites for each of the three levels (see "Apprentice, Installer or Technician?" page 50), outlines the five-day, 40-hour course required for each, presents information on each level`s examination, and describes on-the-job training sign-offs to be completed following the examination. The catalog also lists pilot classes to be held this fall, in eastern, western and midwestern cities. The first examinations will not be given until December, when an Installation Practices Manual (IPM) will be available. These first regular courses, followed by examinations, are expected to be offered in Boston, Dallas and San Francisco.

The IPM, according to Bicsi`s Warmke, is not yet completed, but is expected to be published in time for the December courses. Initially conceived as three volumes, one for each training level, it will now be a book much like Bicsi`s Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual (Tdmm). "The big question right now," says Warmke, "is whether it will be one big looseleaf volume or two smaller ones. It`s about the same length as the Tdmm, 1000 to 1200 pages."

Warmke adds that the IPM will be needed for the different installer examinations, since the questions will be drawn from the book, but, like the Tdmm, it will be much more than just a course text. "We envision it as being an industry practices manual," he says. "It will be used by many installers who have no intention of taking a course or an examination." Warmke also stresses that the manual will cover only premises wiring, and will not deal with outside-plant topics.

The heavily illustrated manual, which is being completed by volunteers such as David Cranmer and the Bicsi Installation Committee that he heads, will include generic procedures and be vendor-blind. In addition, the hands-on training will not be vendor-specific. Bicsi education manager Joe Jones, for example, notes that volunteers and staff have designed a 6-ft multipurpose equipment rack filled with equipment from a number of vendors. To be used in installer training, the device is so unusual that Bicsi is applying for a patent.

Although Bicsi expects to get into full swing with its installer training in the first quarter of 1997, offering all three levels of courses in eight cities around the United States and examinations in 10, not all training will be done through the organization`s training arm, the Bicsi Institute. To that end, Bicsi will license its training program to qualified organizations. Proprietary licenses will be granted to companies wishing to train their own employees, while general licenses will be awarded to training organizations signing a contract with and paying a licensing fee to Bicsi. The organization`s "train-the-trainer" certification program will kick off with classes offered in Phoenix in December.

The Bicsi Cabling Workshop Program, to be launched at Cabling Installation Expo `96, is not to be confused with the organization`s Installation Training and Registration Program, but it will no doubt cover many of the same topics. Basic courses, for instance, will include Basic Installer Tips, Record Keeping, Safety, Inside Design, Print Reading, Campus Design, Codes and Rules, Standards, and Tool Handling. Intermediate-level workshops will cover some of the same topics -- record keeping, inside design, installer tips, and campus design -- as well as some other areas -- Firestopping, Fiber Optics, Testing Basics, What Not to Do, and Category 5 Installation. The advanced workshops will deal with testing, fiber optics, customer interaction, print reading, construction specifications, and -- again -- what not to do.

For a copy of Bicsi`s 1996 Installation Program Catalog or Licensing and Trainer Certification brochure, both of which include application forms, call Bicsi at (800) 242-7405, or fax (813) 971-4311.

Apprentice, Installer or Technician?

Bicsi`s 1996 Installation Program Catalog provides the following descriptions of the three levels in its new Installation Training and Registration Program:

The Apprentice program is designed for individuals with little or no experience in voice, data or video cabling. The basic curriculum consists of 40 classroom and laboratory hours of instruction. Immediately following the training, candidates may take the apprentice examination, which includes a written section followed by a hands-on performance exam. After passing the exam, apprentices begin a structured on-the-job training (OJT) program using Bicsi OJT guidelines. This phase takes from six months to two years to complete. Apprentice-level registration is valid for two years and is not renewable.

The Installer program is designed for individuals with more than two years of telecommunications cabling experience. The curriculum consists of 40 hours of classroom and laboratory training, followed by a written examination and a hands-on performance demonstration. The program includes a one- to two-year OJT phase. Installer registration is valid for two years, and is renewable with completion of the Installer-level OJT program, proof of current installation activity and 12 hours of continuing education.

The Technician program is for individuals with more than five years of continuous cabling experience. Topics and content are similar to those covered in the Installer Program, but the material is presented in greater depth and detail. Written and hands-on examinations follow a 40-hour instructional program. The technician level includes a minimum of two years of OJT. Registration at this level is valid for two years and is renewable with the completion of the OJT program, proof of current installation activity and 12 hours of continuing education.

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Bicsi has summarized the requirements for each of the three levels of installer registration--apprentice, installer, and technician -- in these charts appearing in the organization`s literature.

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