I remember the first time I stepped foot into a customer’s home with little more than basic sales knowledge of AV. Not much more than knowing that an HDMI should put video on the display when a source is plugged into the other end, and often confounded by the difference between composite and component video. Persevering, striding through those learning moments and really reaching out for understanding are the reasons I’m where I am today.
It’s hard to be a passive learner when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. There isn’t an integrator out there who doesn’t have a story of long hours filled with troubleshooting, or tech support where you found a new trick, or gained some new knowledge that inspired research and made you seek a deeper understanding of something that frustrated you. Only one problem exists when confronted with situations like this; being willing to raise the bar in our industry, making a conscious effort to understand the problem, and find a “why” for the answer, are essential.
Gaining the skills required to wrestle an entire integration by oneself takes years of hard work, on the jobsite, and off. One must often delve into subject matter for a new product to truly understand it. Even scrounging for deep, and advanced knowledge in entirely new technologies to integrate creates amazing opportunities. Or, like many, you can coast, seek nothing extra, and gain less and less.
No doubt, many of you are like me and are asked about how we got into this industry, if we went to school for it etc.? I’ve always found the question kind of exciting, to reminisce about the fact that unlike many other industries, a truly skilled integrator is often forged through their own determination to excel. The scope of integration encompasses vast amounts of information, and broadly covers multiple fields of engineering, and technology. Not to mention without personal motivation to gain understanding, and increase one’s effectiveness in the field, our industry will leave you in the dust.
Technology is a train that waits for no one. This is a frequent cause for the typical void of credibility, and competence, between equally positioned integrators in the world of AV. Or the frequent complete abandoning of the field by new technicians. Often, technicians at one organization don’t stack up in expertise, or experience to a technician at another firm. However, true experts share a similar foundation of knowledge and essentials that are necessary for competence to grow. Learning and improving is part and parcel to encouraging our clientele as well.
Surely, we will never stop learning, improving, and perfecting what we do. It’s up to us to increase that effectiveness, competence, and importantly, the credibility of our work. When you’re reaching for excellence it’s important to instill that confidence in your clientele as well. The best way I’ve ever found is with my industry certifications. For years I worked with internal knowledge that didn’t directly communicate to the public the level of my expertise. Most clients seek the highest level of skill, professionalism, and performance possible for their integrations. Don’t waste any opportunity to show them what kind of professional you are and provide evidence to back that up.
With the goal of helping integrators stand out, CEDIA has been working extremely hard to further build out a certification program that that will truly set the bar for technical excellence at various levels. Leading integrators from around the world have been offering their personal time to craft, reshape, and solidify the next generation of integrator certifications for the modern industry environment. These come in the form of the CIT and IST certifications that will replace the ESC certifications. IST in particular has just opened for beta testing. It’s positioned as the gold standard for experienced integrators, someone unfazed by any step of an integration, whether facing down the pre-wire (first fix), trim-out (second fix), or finished installation and programming.
Learning never stops, and the new exams are challenging and inspiring. No doubt many testers will exceed the skill and experience involved in the new exams, but everyone will likely discover new areas to improve and expand knowledge. Of course, to keep your business on the cutting edge, the newest certifications can be a powerful tool to set you apart from the layman, essential to marketing your expertise, your techs, &/or your business.
Barring everything else, having milestones often keeps us confident about our progress and expertise. Keeping that in mind, we need as many of you as possible, who feel up to the challenge, to take the new CIT and IST certifications yourself, participate in the surveys, and make certification a baseline expectation for technicians at your company who are looking to you for a viable career pathway. If you feel that you can contribute to increasing industry excellence, don’t hesitate to reach out to David Whitney (firstname.lastname@example.org) at CEDIA to do just that. CEDIA, and all of us who support this effort, won’t stop striving to improve our industry as a whole. Let’s move forward together!
Cade McKechnie, ESC, ESC-T, ESC-N, CIT