HENRYETTA, Oklahoma – The Muscogee Nation Reintegration Program along with Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology have partnered together to open a new program for MCN citizens.
A 12-week Fiber Technician Training Program will be made available for application to citizens this month. At this time, there will only be 10-12 spots available.
The projected start date will be July 12 and classes will be held at the Reintegration campus located at 615 E Corporation in Henryetta.
MN RIP Senior Case Worker James Bender claims the application process will be one that evaluates physical ability, will include a drug screening, the ability to obtain a CDL, ability to travel for work, and an interview for all applicants who must be 18 years old upon finishing the course.
“We will process the applications through us (RIP) or MN Employment and Training then from there set up a date with the instructor to make sure the applicant can climb the pole, meet the physical demands and follow the safety procedures,” Bender said. “Based off of OSUIT’s and the instructors’ recommendations is how we will fill the classes.”
A funding source of $3,300 for tuition cost must be determined for citizens upon entry of the program. MN programs such as MN Employment and Training and MN Vocational Rehab may be sources for citizens for funding.
According to Smith, sex offenders may have issues with entering the program and workforce but are not discouraged to try.
“It has been a previous hang up in employment because companies work near schools, churches and neighborhoods but some are willing to work with that,” Smith said.
Climbing gear will be necessary to start the course including boots, proper clothing, and a harness. These items can be provided to MN citizens through RIP programs or MN Employment and Training.
According to OSUIT Outreach Specialist Brad Smith, this new training was made available for the high demand of employment in the field.
“The 5G rollout has created a lot of demand for fiber technicians and it is a very well compensated occupation typically starting out at $2,000 a week,” Smith explains. “From there on, depending on the experience that they get technicians can make anywhere from $2,600-$3,000 a week.”
The training will include eight weeks of in-person classroom training then four weeks of a paid internship with a 100 percent guaranteed job placement.
“We have four companies currently that are fighting over graduates before they get here,” Smith said. “That’s a good problem to have.”
Smith claims that internships may send citizens out to other states and should expect travel throughout the career of being a fiber technician.
Ervin Cable, Superior Utilities, and USA cable are just a few of the companies on the growing list that provide internships and employment placement to the programs’ completers.
The eight weeks in class will be a traditional face-to-face instructor format. Covered topics include: pole climbing; including learning to climb in the power zone, jiggling or pulling fiber from start to finish, introduction to fiber splicing: both residential and commercial, learning to splice, hanging strand and fiber and lashing them together, hanging self support and sagging to proper tensions and troubleshooting. OSHA 10 and CPR Certification also included.
“They start off learning climbing because the fiber is hung within the first 15 feet of the pole,” Smith said. “The learn cable lashing, the lasher does the connections from cable to cable and they will about the different types of fiber within the cable. The main goal is to operate safely so they can make it home each night.”
A fear for heights is something to be aware of before entering this program as climbing poles is a primary aspect of the fiber technician role.
In Smith’s research he has discovered the industry to be growing and ever evolving.
“A lot of our infrastructure is 20-30 years out of date especially in the local area and other states are experiencing the same problem,” Smith explains. “Some states are still operating on 3G and 4G while 5G has been out now for over a year so there’s a lot of catching up to do and by the time its caught up something else is going to come along.”
This training will prepare someone for a “life time career,” according to Smith.
MN Citizens with questions about the training or application should contact Mark Harjo at MN Reintegration at 918-549-2632.