First, let me say this was an extremely difficult list to narrow down to only 10. Not to mention the struggle for what goes first and what goes last. But, in my experience, these are the top 10 reasons for a career in AV!
1. Job Security
I’ve been doing this for 20+ years now. What’s the one thing that is always true, without fail? There’s always work! Every successful integrator knows they need AV talent, and it’s hard to come by. Demand for what we do is continually growing, and the talent pool is shrinking. If you’re a hard worker, like challenges and want consistent opportunities for work worldwide, get into AV!
This was originally my number one reason, but thinking about the current day and age we’re living in, I think it’s more important to have steady work. But let’s be honest — having fun is the best part of AV! Think about it: We build and bring the fun! We are the ones that make creative experiences immersive and sensory by connecting people through sight and sound. Seriously, what’s better than that?
3. The “Cool” Factor
Let’s face it: Technology is straight-up cool. Just look at how the industry has grown and continues to grow across all industries and verticals. We all have an insatiable appetite for technology — especially audio and visual technologies. We see it in our clothes, cars, homes and even retail. It’s usually the things we see and hear with technology that make us say, “Holy smokes, that’s rad!” Bringing these projects to life is, well, just plain old cool.
4. It’s a Challenge
Some might wonder why this reason made it onto my list, but after so many years dedicated to one industry, I’ve realized AV always continues to challenge me. It still puts a fire in my belly! When people get bored, they get distracted, and thoughts about changing careers arise. How many times have friends talked about their job and said, “It’s so boring, seriously, I can’t handle it”? You won’t hear that in AV. If you do, someone’s chosen to give up and most likely won’t thrive in AV. Being challenged daily fuels the fire of interest, keeping your mind active and growing. Trust me.
5. Sense of Community
Yes, we in the AV world are in an incestuous group. Most of the talent in our industry will cross paths at one time or another. And, there are not so many of us that you’re just another number or cog in the wheel. You can stand out, you can become a leader, you can advance and you can mentor others in this wonderful world of technology. After some time, you will get to know the community and they’ll know you. We’re all only four degrees of separation from another AV professional or colleague.
OK — I waited a while to drop this one, and for a good reason. Money should never be the main reason to do something. That’s just short-sighted, greedy and ultimately unfulfilling. But the reality is — we need money! Food, homes, cars, tools, fun and our global economy all need money to fuel the machine. In technology (specifically AV), we remain as one of the few industries offering good-paying jobs from top to bottom. So, it’s not number one in my books, but it’s not the last on the list either. It’s right in the middle as a practical benefit to a career in AV that cannot be overlooked.
7. The Perks
The perks are truly endless. Over the years, I’ve had a chance to sit on and off stage for some of the best and most creative experiences you can imagine. I’ve seen and played with technologies in R&D well before they hit the masses. It’s awesome; you get to look behind the curtain of Oz. And, many times, you are Oz! That comes with perks. Join the AV community and meet some fascinating people, collaborate with amazing talent and work on projects that have social merit.
Not all jobs or careers offer a lot of advancement opportunities. A lot of people get a job and a title, and that’s it. After decades of specialized schooling, they get pigeonholed. Moving anywhere from that spot is elusive. But in AV, as I keep mentioning, specialized talent is hard to come by. Successful integrators know that when they get someone great, they need to keep them through good pay, new challenges or internal advancement. Talent needs to be nurtured so that it doesn’t leave for greener fields — because there’s always work. If you’re talented and hardworking, you can go to any integrator and start working. So, if you want a chance to grow and make a name for yourself, get involved in AV!
9. Collaboration Opportunities
This one, for me, has been huge — maybe it deserves a spot higher up on the list. But collaboration opportunities in AV are tremendous. We work with and drive forward so many disciplines, including electrical, mechanical, interior design, architecture, landscaping, hardscaping, health and wellness and so much more. Our technologies get used and installed everywhere in today’s world. For this to be successful, you need to collaborate in teams. That means meeting amazing people from all walks of life and creating exceptional solutions. It’s diverse, exciting, unique and challenging. Also, it’s one of the keys to success. If you’re not collaborating and find yourself isolated in a shell, you will not be successful in AV.
10. Limited Education Requirements
There are educational outlets such as AVIXA and CEDIA (and a host of others) that offer industry-specific training that is not only helpful but highly recommended. But sometimes, the field, vendors and client base can be ahead of the classroom. Besides that, with AV, the proof is in the deliverable — it either works or doesn’t. Solutions either sound good or they don’t. They are visually appealing or they aren’t. You can get top marks in the classroom, but the reality is, grades don’t matter if your deliverable doesn’t, well, deliver. So, if you’re not built for the classroom but have intuition, aptitude, curiosity and talent with technology, look at AV! The audiovisual industry is one of the last vestiges where you can make a mark for yourself without ever needing to step into a classroom. One thing I’ve seen time and time again over a lifetime in AV technology is that the “pros” have had no formal training. It’s trial by fire. They most likely “fell into AV,” meaning your teachers may have never even had a course when they started. Now, they’re the ones teaching you!
So there it is — my top 10 reasons to work in AV. Please comment on your top reasons. Please share and promote outside our industry and let’s get more talent into our pool. There is a talent gap growing between older talent retiring and COVID-19 killing many arms of our sector these past couple of years. We need to get people back into AV. The future is growing and looks bright. Global technology adoption will only continue to rise, so come get involved!