Climb the Training Ladder

Invest in education and build future success

Whether security or another industry, there is a criteria of education and skill-sets to learn in order to excel. And with the amount of educational resources available in security, it can become downright overwhelming to know which route to take. Is there a standard cost for training in the industry? Should I pay to get my team trained? What free training resources are available? What are the regulations and licensing requirements within my state? Which certifications are critical to an installer? What is the difference between one training school versus the next?

The questions seem endless but the resources are there. It is just a matter of what steps as systems integrators and dealers to take first. Before you choose a manufacturer to align with, make sure you understand the basics of the technology and which verticals you want the jobs in, whether it be access control, IP video, alarm installation, residential systems and home automation or all of the above. Next, start asking around or browsing the Web. The majority of this industry works through word-of-mouth and often times, just asking questions may provide you with more information than you expected. Visit some of the leading security associations Web sites-the Electronic Security Association (ESA), PSA Security, BICSI, ASIS, the Security Industry Association (SIA), CEDIA-to see what they have to offer and when in doubt, pick up the phone and call that 800 number.

"One of the problems in this industry is that there was never really a formalized training path," said Dale Eller, ESA director of Education and Standards, ESA National Training School (NTS), Erie, Pa. "Many companies and the installers and the salespeople are really struggling with understanding the path to take," said Eller. "They knew that they wanted to get more involved in fire or video or whatever segment it was, but they weren't really clear as far as what their options were with training and certifications. Developing that roadmap, we saw it as a first big step to establishing certification," Eller confirmed.

The ESA NTS created a Knowledge Roadmap which is based around six segments of technology: intrusion, fire, access control, video surveillance, service/repair and systems integration. Business owners can look at this roadmap, address the segment they want to tailor to and gain the certifications, standards and technology-background to succeed.

Take it step by step

"Training is a several step process," Eller continued. "You need to have a solid foundation of training because no matter what you build above it, it's only going to be as solid as the beginning. And we are that foundation point. After that, the manufacturer needs to pick up where we left off."

Some of the recent NTS-developed certifications include the Certified Service Technician (CST) and Certified Systems Integrator (CSI) certifications, primarily for the top-tier leading integrators who have gone through advanced level training. ESA recently revamped its Web site, offering a structured educational resource portal for security professionals.

BICSI, Tampa, Fla., an association that supports the information technology (IT) systems and infrastructure industry, is another educational resource that recently partnered with Cisco to provide educational and training opportunities in addition to credentials and certifications. Cisco provides training and certification for the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model's network layer. BICSI, a standards-making organization, offers training courses and credentials for those working in the OSI physical and data link layers.

Get 'schooled' in and out of the classroom

But it doesn't just come down to the installers and dealers getting the right training. Instructors and trainers are adopting new training methods as the shift to online services becomes increasingly popular. The use of Webinars, tutorial YouTube videos, whitepapers, informational e-newsletters and even the advent of online tradeshows have seen an uptick. And even some businesses are now requiring new hires to have some sort of "online" activity background, whether blogging or proactively using social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build a brand. Trainers are also seeing requests for a more hands-on approach in the classroom.

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