Certification doesn’t just guarantee the performance of your products, it certifies your performance for your customers.
“Kordz has a longstanding commitment to certifications, which is why we’re so proud of the certifications that our cables carry. As a long time contributor and CEDIA volunteer, I’ve personally been part of the CEDIA Certification Commission, as is now our Operations Director, Ben Yeh. The CEDIA Certification Commission develops the examinations and structure that ensure people in the industry achieve a level of competence.
For me, there is a very meaningful synergy between personal and product certifications. At Kordz, we’re always keen to help with professional development alongside our engineering development; that’s why as a company we’re proud to support CEDIA and to continue to promote certification as part of the pursuit of mastery in our field.”JAMES CHEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR – KORDZ
Kordz would like to extend its utmost thanks to the following industry experts for their generous contributions to this article.
- Dennis Erskine, Founder at Erskine Group, Inc.
Dennis Erskine was recognised as a key figure in shaping several significant aspects of the residential technology integration industry and CEDIA as a global organisation at the 2020 CEDIA Awards virtual edition. Erskine becomes the 30th industry contributor to be selected by the CEDIA Board of Directors as a CEDIA Fellow.
Mandy’s extensive experience in curriculum and instruction, as well as leading-edge content delivery, allows her to advance the careers of creative professionals in the AV industry, increasing their value in the marketplace; and in the organisations they serve.
Mike is a key figure working closely with CEDIA as a commissioner steering the industry forward on all aspects of Certification, including developing the CEDIA CIT, IST, and the forthcoming Networking Certifications. Mike was presented with CEDIA’s Certification Volunteer of The Year and InAVate’s 40 Under 40 most influential young AV professionals in 2021.
Walt Zerbe specialises in understanding new technologies, applications, implementations, standards, and recommended practices creation as CEDIA’s senior director of technology and standards. Currently, Walt is working with world-class integrators, acousticians, Audio & Video experts, protocol manufactures, and equipment manufactures to create RP22 “Immersive Audio System Design Recommended Practice”, RP23 “Immersive Video System Design Recommended Practice and RP1, “Performance Facts”.
What Is Professional Certification?
Certification is the achievement and recognition of hard-won learning that comes from practice, field experience, industry courses, and exams, based on recommended processes and qualified industry standards. And in the AV industry, it is very important.
AV is diverse and complex.
Great design forms a part of creating a great AV system, but every system needs to be maintained and managed. And so, planning and training with accredited certification is crucial for keeping up with the increasingly complex world of AV, even for modest systems. On the client-facing side, certification allows a system designer to know what deliverables fall reliably within the needs of the client and where sacrifices are made.
“Volunteering also benefits the volunteers by networking opportunities, marketing, and learning things they didn’t know before which can directly translate into their personal and business lives.”Walt Zerbe, Senior Director of Technology and Standards at CEDIA
Simply put, certification gives you a leg up, a leg to stand on, and a foot in the door.
How Do AV Industry Professionals Get Certified?
Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) is a global body providing training and certifications in technology for humans to use in their daily lives. It includes, but is not limited to Hi-Fi, Home Cinema, Automation, lighting, IT, Security, Digital Health, Control Systems and IoT. CEDIA education and certification ensures that the AV professional of today can assemble the complex jigsaw puzzle of technology and deliver first-class results for their clients. CEDIA is working on industry certifications as per ANSI (American National Standards Institute), a non-profit organisation that handles and coordinates standards for the U.S. and around the world.
There’s also plenty of great manufacturer training out there, which is usually application-specific but can sometimes suffer from commercial bias.
“Certification is the answer. This program is a volunteer-led initiative. ANSI accredited certifications are for the people by the people.”Mandy Beckner, Vice President of Education & Training at CEDIA
So far, the CEDIA Certification Commission has successfully developed the CIT (Cabling & Infrastructure Technician) and IST (Integrated Systems Technician) certifications as foundational credentials that every technical AV professional in the industry should hold.
Aimed at installers and integrators with a few years of experience, CIT covers foundational learnings from site tools, safety equipment, and building terminology to when the walls are open and cables need to be run.
IST is developed for the more experienced integrator and installer – those who have worked on sites for a few more years and have a desire to qualify their experience and ensure best practices and standards are met.
“Ultimately, I believe this is about community. The community works and gives back when it’s done properly. I’d encourage your customers to have a hand in your product development and Kordz to have a hand in industry standards and recommended practices.”Walt Zerbe, Senior Director of Technology and Standards at CEDIA
ISO and IEC form part of the CEDIA certification commission regulation and mandate accreditation to the ISO/IEC 17024 standard as recognised worldwide as a mark of excellence. This demonstrates to employers, industry leaders, and allied trades that a certificate holder has undergone a valid, fair, and reliable assessment to verify the necessary competencies to practice.
“Often you only learn from what people teach you. We wanted to have a resource where the certification could show you exactly what you need to know and the correct way of doing things to carry out your job properly. The CIT has already been accredited by ISO (ISO 17024.) And the IST is currently going through that process.”Mike Ranpura, Director at Smart Life Audio Visual
Why Get Certified as an AV Professional?
“Just like a certified product gives the end-customer a peace of mind that the products are performing to an industry standard, so too are CEDIA certifications giving customers the peace of mind that industry best practices are being implemented in their homes or their other environments.”Ben Yeh, Operations Director, Kordz International
It’s easy to claim to do a good job. However, unfortunately, trades aren’t always known for quality work. With certification, your customers are more likely to trust your recommendations, what you do and how you do it. You set yourself apart from your competition, having proven you’re dedicated to being on top of your game. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-assurance. And it means you can charge the fees for this standard of workmanship that boost your bottom line.
“You could be on site all day scratching your head, wondering what’s wrong. With the knowledge gained from earning a certification, that problem wouldn’t even give you a headache. You already know why something is happening and how to resolve it.”Mike Ranpura, Director at Smart Life Audio Visual
There’s a tangible business benefit for employee certification too. According to AVIXA, industry-accredited training has proven to boost the market value of a business with a highly skilled and certified workforce.
Ultimately, becoming a certified AV professional opens doors for your career and keeps you up to speed with best practices for the industry through:
Show peers, partners, and prospective employers that you have an accredited level of skill and knowledge, making you and your company more credible.
Progress your career opportunities and earnings potential by proving that you are worth it within a network of like-minded peers.
Stand apart from your competition, show your competitors that you’re better than them and can prove it.
“People looking into our industry also have the ability to see what kind of career path they can go down (after CIT and IST.) By having a group of certifications visible, it’s better for everyone to see what is achievable in the industry and areas where they may want to expand their knowledge further.“Mandy Beckner, Vice President of Education & Training at CEDIA
How Does AV Product Certification Work?
Certification ensures an AV product works reliably and delivers on its promises. Certified products are sent to testing labs to ensure performance requirements of the latest AV specifications are met. Once products pass the test, they may be labeled ‘Certified’ on the packaging, as well as in the brand’s marketing materials and website.
Unfortunately, some brands claim their HDMI cables are HDMI licensed when they have not been properly tested. HDMI Licensing actively investigates these instances to ensure product quality you expect. We recommend customers buy their cables from a reputable, trusted source that is certified as an HDMI Adopter®.
Product certification is increasingly important as technology evolves. Bandwidth and data rate requirements continue to increase with new digital communication technologies. For cabling products, the simplest way to achieve this is a higher gauge of cable. Unfortunately, this impinges on physical space limitations and ease of use. So, a balance of performance and usability necessitates fitting higher data rates down the same sized pipe or favouring one aspect over the other in a specified product.
Problems can arise here with products that are marketed a certain way but ultimately fail to deliver on the performance or usability front. Certified products maintain a minimum operational quality and usability that’s easy to comprehend. This adds to the greater foundation of legitimate products that speak the same ‘language’ and do not over-promise and under-deliver.
“Connectivity products need to work to tighter tolerances, giving rise to more potential for interoperability problems if two products are not working to the same blueprint. However, if products are designed with the intent of certification in mind, then we’re all more likely to work together.”Ben Yeh, Operations Director, Kordz International
Why Use Certified AV Products?
Simply, certified AV products guarantee a quality standard to your work that gives you credibility and peace of mind and they support you in charging the fees commensurate with your calibre of expertise and professionalism.
Professionals in technology and AV installation focus on the end-user experience and how their work impacts lives. Their success depends on the quality of the products and services they stand behind. For better – or often, worse – devices are independent of the system. And so, variables such as software updates, compatibility between new convergent technologies, and user habit may impact on your work’s reliability.
No AV Professional enjoys returning to a job that didn’t go according to plan. It can cause a personal disconnect between you and the client and set a precedent of unreliability, undermining trust in both professional and system.
“A ‘cheap’ solution comes at a price; yet expense does not necessarily deliver a solution. Now, insert a shielded cable purpose-engineered to defy the environment and quietly perform to the same requirements. It’s effective, reliable and robust. It does what it is meant to do because reliability was predicted for its environment. It is appropriate. And it does so with modesty and dignity.”James Chen, Managing Director, Kordz
Certified products mitigate these risks.
“Certified products from a reliable and reputable manufacturer gives the installer the ability to sell predictable reliability. Meaning lower maintenance and repair costs for the end-customer. Besides, who wouldn’t want to work with products that work reliably, and don’t require callouts in the middle of the night to plug in a new cable!”Ben Yeh, Operations Director, Kordz International
Certification: What the Experts Say.
“Without recommended practices and standards, it’s the wild, wild west.”Walt Zerbe, Senior Director of Technology and Standards at CEDIA
The integration industry currently experiences a problem of inconsistency in professionalism and workmanship from one project to the next, meaning customers can struggle to know if an AV provider will deliver the quality they expect. There is no hard and fast framework for AV professionals to guarantee the calibre of their expertise or to grow their career in a way that is recognised by their customers. Customers that aren’t necessarily homeowners.
“It’s the architects, the interior designers, and the home builders, that end up being the larger clients. Architects are licensed, and electricians are licensed and certified to maintain a code of ethics and a minimum standard for their work. We’ve never had that until now.”Dennis Erskine, Founder at Erskine Group, Inc.
Unfortunately, time served within a role is a poor professional measuring stick. With a dynamically shifting landscape of technology integration, there needs to be a community with a mutual language and understanding of credible ways of doing and knowing to ensure a minimum quality of integrity and skills. According to Mandy Beckner, even veterans with years or decades of experience should be certified. While the market faces uncertainty in project quality, the more seasoned practitioners can assume positions of certified ambassadors.
“Even reliable rockstars that do things right (need certification). We have to hold them up as THE example. We have to count them in numbers to say we are here, and we are a certified professional that has a seat at the table for the projects that we work on.”Mandy Beckner, Vice President of Education & Training at CEDIA
Uncertified products create a similar uncertainty in their ability to do what they say reliably.
To promise reliability, manufacturers and resellers rely on doing business with certified AV adopters. Sadly, only around 1,700 adopters exist in the market and a significant number of cables are still unlicensed without approval by HDMI Licencing.
For AV customers, using an uncertified cable or AV professional means risking performance of the best features of their TV or display device. It could mean no HDR, no wide colour gamut, no high frame rate – and for the price you paid for your high-performance device, what a disappointment! But if you know what to look for, it’s easy to find the right cable that will deliver it all.
And it begins with certification.
Should Certification Be Mandatory?
Yes. Knowing a job is done right to recognised standards delivers a level of reliability and safety that ultimately builds the credibility and value of the system, its products, and the people making it happen.
“Our products need to be designed to interop nicely. That means we all need to work to the same standards, and we build trust in the industry by being certified to perform to those standards. The more players that adhere to the industry standards, the better the user experience and the stronger the industry.”Ben Yeh, Operations Director, Kordz International
Future professional certifications will cover all of the major skill sets within the technology integration industry and how professionals liaise with complementary industries. This is no easy task. It’s already challenging for AV installers, technicians, and system integrators to do a competent job for the client without detailed knowledge about different subsystems like cinema design, acoustics, projection, lighting, networking, security, and much more. Yet it is important.
“You need to have a professionalised workforce; people who share a credential, people who share titles, people who share outcomes from their work, and certification is a terrific one to use as a definition of who we are and what we do.”Mandy Beckner, Vice President of Education & Training at CEDIA
The technology integration industry is still young. There are ever new technologies, roles, and liabilities emerging every year. Certification will create greater scope and richer career paths to specialise and hone your individual expertise. It is an inevitability that will ultimately form the framework through which AV professionals literally build and stay at the forefront of technological opportunity in our future world. The time is now to align with this higher pathway to professional success.
“The bottom line is certification makes you worth more and be more efficient. It is a double whammy to profitability when you can charge more for your work and do it in less time.“James Chen, Managing Director – Kordz
While AV remains a tumultuous and dynamic industry, the expectations and experiences of reliable delivery must take precedence above all else. To be reliable, to work with integrity, and to hold pride in certification as a benchmark in the industry serves to strengthen the claim of Pro AV as a necessary service.
“It’s like having a little bit of a crystal ball. Seeing so clearly the path ahead, and all the bumps we’re going to navigate. But the challenges, questions and self-realisation to get there to be professional and standardised when it comes to accreditation, that is, workforce.“Mandy Beckner, Vice President of Education & Training at CEDIA
Having the knowledge and skills at the foundational level into specialisation provides exciting opportunities to push the boundaries of what a Pro AV provides. By establishing clear certifications, with minimum expectations of professionalism, the floor at a foundational level will be raised, and specialist certifications elevating the ceiling of Pro AV with it.
“If we predict uncertainty in the environment, make evaluations for best practice methods, we can achieve reliability more often than not. We lessen the risk of uncertainty in their system.”James Chen, Managing Director – Kordz