Embracing the Challenges: Why Industry Certifications Are Important (to Me)


By: Tom Kehr
Almo Pro A/V

Whether or not a certification means something to someone or an organization will not be settled here. I’m a member of several professional and social groups, and we all have opinions.

What I can offer instead is what it means to me. I achieved my CTS back in 2000, CTS-D in 2001, CTS-I in 2006, LEED Green Associate in 2010, Network+ in 2012 and became an ATD Master Trainer in 2015. There’s other stuff too, like manufacturer and association training. So what? Big deal — and I would agree with that. In the overall scope of things, it’s not something I can pass down to my kids or put into my will.

What it does mean is that I’m willing to push myself, learn something I didn’t know before and become better, more efficient and knowledgeable in my profession. As you know, audiovisual is an industry where the learning never stops. Just when I knew analog well, it became digital. When I felt competent at digital, it became IP. Embrace the challenges. AV is a lot more fun than many other careers that I can think of, and we get to play with cool toys.

Besides the motivation for self-improvement comes satisfaction with achieving goals. Sure, certs are required on many bid specs, and it’s reasonable to see why. It’s the same reason I want a licensed and insured electrician working on my home. There’s an expectation of minimum competence. That’s not to say you should ignore performing your due diligence in selecting any contractor or AV provider.

Seeing a cert after someone’s name means they’re pushing themselves to improve, but there’s even some great education that doesn’t consummate in a cert. SynAudCon has been one of the greatest audio education resources since 1973. There’s an instant bond and understanding shared among SynAudCon attendees, some spanning decades. (My first SynAudCon was 1997. You’ll never do just one SynAudCon.)

So get certified. In the process, learn. For example, learn how to weed out fact from fiction (there’s a lot of fiction promoted in AV, and you need to know the difference). After you get certified, continue learning. In fact, learn about things other than AV, as gaining wisdom is never a waste. As I have told my kids, “Hang around the smart people.” I think I’ll change that to “Hang around the wise people,” as “smart” does not always equal wise.

Lastly, be of good cheer; you’ll never know it all.