Fiber Optic Associate
Fiber Optic has become the predominant communications medium, not just for telephones and the Internet, but also for cable television, computer networks, surveillance/security systems, industrial controls, traffic signals, utility grid communications and control, energy exploration/production, alternative energy and more. Even wireless antennas are connected on fiber. Workers in all these fields are expected to understand fiber optics technology and, in many cases, be competent in fiber optic network design, installation and operation. Training and certification for fiber optic technicians working in all these areas has become extremely important and that is the focus of The Fiber Optic Association.
What is The FOA?
The FOA is a international non-profit educational organization that is chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. Founded in 1995 by a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and industry personnel as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and train the workers who design, build and operate the world’s fiber optic networks.
- Setting standards for and administering technical certification programs
- Evaluating and approving training schools
- Training and certifying instructors
- Providing technical information for everyone through our website, Guide, YouTube and social media (LinkedIn and Facebook)
- Developing textbooks, courses and training programs which are given to FOA-approved schools for their use
- Participating in industry standards activities and writing our own standards
- Publishing email and online newsletters about relevant technology and industry news
- Creating and offering free online web-based training programs through Fiber U
- Promoting fiber optics applications and education through participation in various industry forums
The FOA is not a training organization. FOA sets standards for the approved training organizations that provide training for FOA certification, training and certifying the instructors who give FOA approved courses and providing certification programs. In recognition of their excellence, FOA certifications are recognized by the US Department of Labor and organizations in most countries around the world.
The FOA has approved over 250 training programs in more than 40 countries, including technical high schools and colleges, professional training organizations, major fiber optic manufacturers and companies offering employee training programs. Over 57,000 techs have successfully completed requirements for FOA certifications (March 2016.)
The History of The FOA
The FOA was started by a dozen instructors at the Fiber U training conference in 1994 who decided the industry was mature enough to support a professional society. The founders included experienced instructors from industry (3M, Siecor, Panduit, FOTEC), government (US Navy and Air Force), education (Lincoln Trail College and Wentworth Institute) and private trainers (Pearson Technologies, Conquest Communications) who were teaching fiber optics and who provided the expertise in management, technology and education needed to create a new professional society.
FOA was incorporated in July 1995 chartered to promote fiber optics through education, certifications and standards and incorporated in July 1995 as a 501(c)(6) educational non-profit corporation.
Founded soon after the initial commercialization of the Internet, the FOA is a “virtual organization,” perhaps one of the first organizations so created. There is no FOA headquarters building – appropriately to its technology, FOA exists on the Internet. Those who run the organization live and work all over the world, using modern communications to communicate and collaborate. The network of experts working to create FOA programs include our Master Instructors who average more than 20 years experience in fiber optics. Their experience ensures FOA curriculum and certifications are the most comprehensive and up to date available.
FOA Technical Materials
FOA creates and publishes its own technical materials for training and reference. Having access to the experts who train around the world ensures the materials are up to date, technically correct and universally applicable. These same instructors provide input on the newest technologies and applications which get included in the FOA technical references and often results in the addition of a FOA certification.
Quality training requires quality reference materials. The FOA has worked since its inception to create a compilation of technical information on fiber optics and premises cabling and make it available to everyone for free on the web or inexpensive in printed form. FOA technical materials includes the FOA textbooks, the FOA Guide – The World’s Largest Compilation of Fiber Optic Information – YouTube videos and Fiber U online training – all Free. TheFOA Online Reference Guide has become the largest and busiest technical website on fiber optics and premises cabling. The FOA technical reference material is also available in printed and eBook formats. FOA uses our own technical website to create free online self-study programs at Fiber U. These materials are available for those getting started in fiber optics or expanding and updating their knowledge. The FOA also has more than 100 videos onYouTube including lectures on fiber optics and premises cabling and hands-on examples of many standard practices in the industry.
The FOA recognizes the value of certification in today’s job markets, where employers evaluate potential employees by their certifications. By offering certifications that are developed by a board of industry experts and are not affiliated with any particular vendor or training organization, FOA provides an independent means to judge the qualification of contractors and employees.
- FOA certifications are developed by a group of highly experienced advisers. Many FOA advisers have been in the fiber business as long as fiber optics has been a business and are still working in the field every day, while others are professionals in the field of education. This broad base of knowledge and experience ensures FOA curriculum, reference materials and certification are the highest quality and most up to date.
The FOA has focused on helping teachers add certification programs on fiber optics and premises cabling into their current curriculum for information technology and communications programs. Fiber optics has been included in courses as diverse as A+ and Cisco computer training and electrical apprenticeships.
- The FOA also allows experienced workers to become FOA certified directly if they have proper experience, credentials and pass the appropriate FOA certification exams.
The goal of the FOA is to assure employers that an FOA-certified technician is highly qualified for working in the field of fiber optics; someone you can hire with confidence. Some of the companies that use FOA certification in their own training programs include Corning, AFL, IBEW/NECA, CWA, NASA, FAA, Cisco, Daimler-Chrysler and Lockheed-Martin.
FOA certification programs conform to international standards including ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024.
- What Is The Value Of FOA Certification?
- Certification means that someone gets a certificate, and there are many different reasons they may receive one and from what kind of organization they get it from. The value of a certification depends on its source.
- Manufacturers often offer certification to customers, sometimes requiring it as part of an affiliates program. Training focuses on the manufacturer’s products and is given by applications engineers or sales personnel. Standards for qualifying for a manufacturer’s certification vary, sometimes only requiring attendance at a short training course. Today many large fiber optic manufacturers offer FOA certifications.
- Some companies specialize in offering certifications; they are basically testing companies that have specialists create certification exams in many different fields in which they believe there is interest in such a product. They are not specialists in the technologies for which they test. They may or may not create and sell training curriculum. Instructor qualification and training also varies.
- Professional societies often offer certifications in the technology of their interest. They can call on experts in the technology to create complete programs focused on that technology that ensure the certified members are highly knowledgeable and competent. The FOA joins IEEE, ISA, SCTE and other professional societies in offering recognized technical certifications.
- As the international professional society for fiber optics and cabling, the FOA goal is to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) of professionals in this technical field. We are incorporated as a non-profit educational organization. We set standards for training, require instructors to be FOA-certified and only approve schools which meet our high academic and professional standards.
How Can The FOA Help You?
For Users of Fiber Optic Networks
FOA offers free online technical information and a certification program that makes it easier to hire competent personnel.
For Other Technical Organizations Whose Technologies Depend on Fiber Optics
The FOA works with other organizations to bring to their own training and certification programs our fiber optic expertise. FOA is always willing to share our knowledge to enhance your programs.
For Those Actively Working In The Industry
FOA certifies individuals with industry experience through our “Work to Cert” programs.
For Instructors, Schools and Training Organizations
The FOA offers a range of services including instructor training and certification, technical and training materials and support that leads to becoming an “FOA-Approved Training Organization.” The FOA lists all approved schools on the FOA website as a guide to students looking for quality training. The FOA “Train-The-Trainer” program leads to a certification required for all FOA fiber optic instructors, the CFOS/I. This program prepares instructors for creating and teaching hands-on courses for fiber optic technician training and lab courses for university level programs. Instructors receive an extensive set of training materials for both classroom and lab sessions.
For Students of FOA Approved Schools
FOA Certification Programs open up job opportunities and assure customers of worker competence. Passing the various levels of the FOA certification program will demonstrate a level of competence in the fiber optics field to employers or customers, whether the worker is new to the industry or looking to move up. FOA certified techs can join the FOA LinkedIn network.
For Everyone In The Industry
The FOA website offers a monthly online newsletter covering industry news and technology. The FOA Guide section offers an extensive library of technical information and tutorials on fiber optics. Numerous links to other relevant websites are included. And full information on the FOA and its programs are available for everyone.
For More Information, go to the home page of the FOA website: