CEDIA Certification Receives Turbocharged Investment

Mike Ranpura | Aug 12, 2021

One of the biggest initiatives in CEDIA’s history

Mike Ranpura


In September 2019 I was approached by long time CEDIA advocate and former Board Director Dennis Erskine regarding a vision to completely overhaul CEDIA Certification by becoming a member of the CEDIA Certification Commission. Having then recently acquired the ESC-T and ESC-N Certifications I had a strong understanding of the current certification process and felt I could contribute significantly to this project. Little did I know what I was about to get involved in.

Alongside a group of talented CEDIA members representing multiple countries with a range of industry experience we clocked up over 100 hours of personal volunteer time each through weekly meetings to get the first CIT Certification completed. Since then a further 130 hours each have been committed by members to get the IST Certification to Beta stage and the new Networking exam to Blueprint stage. It is probably the single biggest project in CEDIA’s 33-year history involving the largest amount of volunteers and volunteer time. Why should you care?
Everyone involved in this project is passionate about raising the bar in every way possible. The biggest factor being we have to make these new certifications meaningful. They should add value to every individual who achieves them. CEDIA is investing a great deal to ensure that the new certifications being launched will meet the ISO 17024 standard including bringing in third party consultants to assist with exam and policy development. This in turn makes CEDIA Certifications more valuable to the wider market and can be promoted by education partners and governments. Overall this should help raise awareness for CEDIA and push local governments to recognise certified members as competent individuals for our industry.
The other key considerations were structure and content. Technology is a fast paced industry and many things have changed since the ESC Certifications were introduced to the market. Everything from what System Integrators do on site, through to new service based career roles which previously didn’t exist. We decided that a modular approach would be the most suitable. There is far too much content to fit into a single certification and a whole range of sub-systems and specialist knowledge that requires proper comprehension to be successful. We needed an entry level certification that helps new talent begin a successful career in the right way and that could be taught in educational establishments. This entry level certification would also be used to ensure that everyone in the industry had a strong grasp of the fundamentals. This resulted in the creation of the CIT Certification. It is mandatory for anyone wishing to become certified as it tests knowledge that every new and experienced integrator should know inside out.
The IST Certification is the true baseline certification for experienced technicians and requires experience working in the industry and passing the CIT or a demonstrable equivalent level of expertise. Together the CIT and IST Certifications are what we would expect every member to hold if they work on site.
These new certifications are held by the individual and not the company, meaning if an employee moves company they are still recognised for their accomplishments. On CEDIA’s website, clients can see which member companies have certified individuals on staff and specifically what certifications are held. This allows clients to see the range of demonstrated expertise and feel more confident about working with a particular company.
All integrators know the pain of walking into projects which are carried out to abysmal standards. The reality is our industry is still in its infancy compared to others and a large proportion of integrators do not carry out sufficient professional development to learn how to do things the right way. Many experienced integrators learnt what they know mostly from informal training. Once you earn a certification the learning doesn’t stop. CEDIA Education have been working hard on developing courses for a brand new online learning platform and classroom training to cover new topics previously not covered. A new approved training course program will recognise quality third party training offered by the wider industry. New books have been written to cover topics included in the new certifications. You will be required to carry out regular professional development to maintain your certifications. These certifications are challenging. Even alongside an experienced team of integrators helping develop them, I can guarantee you that every single individual involved has learnt something that they previously didn’t know. They are a great opportunity to fill in gaps you may have in your knowledge. Use them as a marketing tool to secure the next position in your career or win your next project. The power of telling a potential client that you have proven your competence in what you are proposing to do versus a company who is unqualified and could ruin their home is a valuable advantage.
What’s next? The CIT, IST and Networking are just the start. There are many more certifications that can be created. Specialisms like Home Cinema and Lighting Control are being discussed but ultimately, uptake of the first three and demand will drive what happens next.
We need the community to prove their competence and earn these certifications. The CIT exam has been available for several months. You can sit this at CEDIA Expo or online from the comfort of your own home. We need experienced integrators to sit the IST beta exam to ensure it’s the best possible exam it can be. You can sit the CIT before Expo and then beta test the IST at Expo. The IST beta can also be taken worldwide online when it goes live if you are not attending Expo. A survey regarding the proposed blueprint for the new Networking certification will shortly be sent out so keep an eye out in your mailboxes and spend time to provide quality feedback. Finally, if you feel you could contribute in any way please contact David Whitney (dwhitney@cedia.org) at CEDIA about getting involved. Let’s raise the bar together.
This commentary submitted by Mike Ranpura, Director - Smart Life AV and a CEDIA Certification Commissioner.