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A security system installer mounts, tests, and activates home and commercial security equipment. A professional visits customers' homes and businesses to provide estimates and suggestions about the most appropriate systems for their needs. He or she then manually runs wires and fiber optic cables, installs equipment, and explains operating instructions to customers. Most security system installers are employed by equipment manufacturers and retailers, though some workers are self-employed contractors.
When a home or business owner decides to have a security system installed, an expert usually visits the premises to provide consulting services. A security system installer can explain the benefits and drawbacks of different systems, such as silent alarms, lights, cameras, and closed circuit televisions. He or she inspects walls, home and storefronts, and electrical lines to determine what type of work needs to be done and approximately how much it will cost to install and maintain a system. After providing an estimate, the worker sets an installation date and obtains the right equipment.
Depending on the location and type of system, an installer may need to cut holes in walls, perform electrical work, and build mounts. He or she typically uses hand and power tools to set up equipment. With cameras and alarms in place, the security system installer performs a series of tests to ensure that everything is working properly. He or she demonstrates to the customer how to activate and use the system. Payment may be collected on site or a bill may be sent to the customer later.
There are no formal education or training requirements to become a security system installer, but most workers hold at least high school diplomas. New employees typically receive several days or weeks of classroom instruction followed by a period of firsthand, on-the-job training from experienced installers. Some companies feature formal apprenticeship programs that can last for one year or longer, but most employers will allow new security system installers to start working independently after they have proven their competence for the job. With experience, a security system installer may be promoted to an administrative or supervisory position within his or her company.
Some skilled installers choose to go into business for themselves. They obtain contractors' licenses and purchase their own tools, equipment, and supplies. Private contractors set their own wages and schedules, advertise their services, and possibly hire assistants to help on jobs. A successful, business-savvy contractor may eventually be able to open an independent security system retail store.