Outside plant engineers are responsible for the external equipment which enables telecommunication and data-transfer. This external equipment is located outside of the origination source and between the switching centers of the signal, and some examples are cables, repeaters, conduits, and other devices which help to guide or perpetuate the signal.
Much of this work involves testing and maintaining this equipment, as well as new installations, and a college degree is not necessarily required for this position. Because these engineers are responsible for sensitive communication equipment, background checks may be necessary and close attention to detail is also important. Outside plant engineers may work alone or in small teams, and they typically work for telecommunications firms, broadly classified as companies which enable any type of distance communication. Much of their time is spent driving to different locations and working in the field, and these engineers may also report to one or two supervisors in most cases.
Outside plant engineers typically work during daylight hours, but may also be on-call for emergency troubleshooting at all hours of the day. They may be responsible for a variety of different equipment types in a number of different roles, so tasks may vary greatly day by day. This work can also be mentally demanding or involve challenging weather conditions outside.
Outside Plant Engineer Tasks
Develop and implement plant design and engineering practices.
Manage communication with existing and potential customers, negotiating service requirements and time frames.
Support construction and maintenance personnel, providing assistance and ensuring compliance of design practices.
Assist in developing budgets and cost-analysis and coordinating activities for outside plant design and construction.
Collaborate with clients on the analysis of growth, modernization, and rehabilitation, identifying plant impact.