5 Ways to Make CTS Better


Well it’s been a couple weeks since my last piece on CTS, and I figured the cooling off period was just about over.  Needless, to say, my last piece created a lot of great conversation, as well as a couple of follow up blogs from industry consultant Leonard Suskin and even rAVe founder Gary Kayye.

For anyone who had the impression my last piece attacked the need for industry certification or any of the people who volunteer their time as industry educators, I’d encourage you to read it again because you may have inadvertently missed the real message.

With that, in the spirit of not criticizing without offering ideas for improvement, I thought I’d follow up with a very clear piece on what I see as the immediate opportunities for an improved CTS program.

So without further ado, here are 5 ways I think we could improve the CTS today.

  1. Core RUs for General CTS.  Once the CTS exam is passed, CTS holders have to do continuing education and earn 30 renewal units over the course of 3 years.  It’s obviously important that once certified, we continue to grow and learn, otherwise, you could have a CTS that focused on things like 5 wire RGBHV in 1995 and have no clue about HDMI and HDCP.  However, given the immense number of courses, manufacturer’s trainings and other ways to earn RUs (read industry books, teach classes, write white papers, etc) there are numerous ways to maintain CTS while learning very little about current tech and practices.  General CTS should have a core curriculum, even for the General certification.  Manufacturer’s trainings and teaching etc are great and I don’t think people who take them are “gaming the system”.  I do think they should be electives.  Anyone renewing in the next three years should be required to take some type of education that deals with HDCP 2.2, HDBaseT, Video Over IP, etc.  A core set of RUs would assure that even general CTS holders have some common baseline of industry knowledge that grows alongside the changes in technology.  For anyone who thinks that’s hard to implement, remember that InfoComm already requires half the RUs for CTS-D or CTS-I to include 15 RUs from a shorter list of education designed for those programs.See the renewal handbook for more info here- and this chart from inside.  CTS RUs
  2. Hands on training.  Note I said training not testing.  InfoComm clearly stated the unlikelihood of a hands on component for real world demonstration of skills ever returning to the CTS test at any level, at least while ANSI is involved.  However, based on a lot of social media posts I’ve seen over the last couple weeks, InfoComm does have some people developing and delivering great exam preparation classes that do include hands on training.  I think this is great, and I would argue that it should be a required part of test preparation, at a minimum for CTS-I.  This type of training could be facilitated through InfoComm and certified manufacturers alike, therefore making it widely available and cost effective.  Even if this requirement were only applied to CTS-I, it would make that program all the more valuable and credible.
  3. RU Specific Search Feature.  There has been some talk and commentary about creating some new specialty certifications.  A couple ideas that were thrown out were a CTS networking credential or a CTS project management credential.  Some see these as unnecessary, as perhaps they create inferior and less respected certifications than the certifications prevalent in the IT and Project Management professions that currently exist like CCNA or PMP respectively.  That is a larger argument and one that cannot be solved today, although InfoComm hasn’t had a new certification in 15 years. (Maybe its time?) However, if you were an IT manager at a bio-med firm looking to implement a distributed video over IP solution, wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to filter CTS holders by recent RUs to get a list of all the ones in your area that just did “Video over IP considerations in HIPPA environments”?  It would at least be a great way to start to streamline potential candidates.  InfoComm gets a report of the classes taken so it’s a matter of adding a searchable field to the database and cataloging earned RUs by subject matter.
  4. CTS Holder Search by Zip Code.  This is another tweak to the database and search tool, but it would add value to the CTS holder.  As I stated in the first piece, a search by city doesn’t return any other local adjacent areas, so searching Los Angeles for instance, you will not get any results for four of the nation’s largest integrators next door in Hawthorne, Cypress, or Burbank.  A within “x” miles feature is standard on any Walmart location finder, and should be added to help CTS holders get more exposure for jobs in their immediate areas.
  5. Teach Holders How to Leverage Their Credentials.  InfoComm shared that they have studies on the impact CTS has on the holder’s personal income.  It would be a great thing for them to promote more to illustrate the benefits of CTS for sure.  I addition to that, many of the people that earn CTS are professional tradesman.  They are hard working, “stay til it works”, magicians that make the type of systems I used to sell actually work.  They are not sales and marketing people, nor do they want to be, so saying “we market CTS, you market yourself as a holder” in this scenario is just not enough…unless InfoComm provides some advice on how to do it.  Amazingly enough, even the Department of Labor has a whole initiative addressing leveraging credentials and creating stackable credentials for enhanced career paths.  I’m sure our industry association could do the same, and hopefully quicker and better than the Federal Government.

So there they are.  My 5 tips for helping CTS move forward into a more valuable program today.  Of course there are still plenty of long term ideas on personal accountability and competence as well as specialization that will continue to be discussed for some time, but in the mean time, why not take some small steps that could make a big difference?  These are all things that leverage the programs already in place and are not radical departures.

I promise not to write on CTS for at least another 2 weeks, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments and/or reactions to these ideas.