Seeking out the Proper Certifications and Learning Opportunities
CTS, CTP, DSCE, CTNS, Dante3. That is what you will find next to my name in my email signature and LinkedIn profile. To the non-Pro AV crowd, those letters probably don’t mean much, but to me they each signify a moment in my career where I set out to further my education and better position myself for the future. CTP (Certified Telecom Professional) was the first certification I attempted/passed during my first week of employment with Almo Corporation. DSCE (Digital Signage Certified Expert) was my first foray into Pro AV as I wanted to become more familiar with the lingo used and technologies we spoke about. CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) was the crown jewel in my eyes. It was a goal that I set for myself specifically so I could achieve longevity in my role and better support my company and customers. I needed to learn more to be the “expert” in other words. CTNS (Certified Telecommunications Networking Specialist) was something that I sought out to help differentiate Almo from the competition. Lastly, Dante 3. This certification came in 3 levels and challenged me more than I anticipated. Having worked with AVoIP and Dante-enabled audio products I saw this as a chance to “future proof” myself against newer emerging technologies and gave me a great base for which to learn. The reason I listed these out is to illustrate how each one meant something different to me at a certain time in my career. This does not include the countless others I have received whether it be Harman’s Core Curriculum, Comcast’s Hospitality Certification, or even Microsoft Teams Rooms Sales Certification which all are valuable in their own right. We have certainly all heard the saying “Always be Closing”, well I adopted “Always Be Learning”. Sure, it might sound cliched on its own, but allow me to share how’s, why’s and where’s of this cliche and the benefits it provides.
The How’s: How Do you Continue Your Learning?
There is no magic answer to this question. In my opinion, you either have a thirst for knowledge or you do not. Even if you do not, that is completely fine. Everyone is at a different level or stage of their career and that will dictate a lot. Do you have the time to spend on learning or researching? Do you have the financial stability to pay for some of the new certifications? Do you feel that a new course or learning track would even benefit you at this time? All of these are viable questions so by all means if you answer “no” to any of these, don’t feel bad. One particular reason why I have become a proponent for the “A.B.L.” mantra is because I work for a company who encourages and leads by example. Almo Corporation/Exertis Almo place a value on their employees’ development/training and to me that is infectious. Any time I decide to seek out a certain opportunity, the first thing I do is vocalize that to my management. I find that this helps hold me accountable and is also a tangible goal we can discuss in future interactions. Another way to continue my development is simply asking questions. There have been countless times where I find myself on calls and am not understanding what is being discussed so quite simply, I speak up and ask. Afterwards I will then use my trusty friend- Google and will continue my learning until my comfort level is achieved. It is a small step like this that has helped me more than others.
The Why’s: Why Should You Seek Out Learning Opportunities and Certifications?
I get this question more than you would believe. “Why Do you Have So Many Certifications?” or “Why Bother Taking all those Courses?” Again, it is quite simple. As I laid out in the very beginning, all the certifications that I have achieved thus far each hold a certain value to me in one way or the other. What I will never do is take an exam or spend the time on a learning track just for the sake of completing it. I am very methodical in what I take and when I take it. I have a specific interest in the subject matter and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t even start the course. When I set out a goal to achieve a new learning opportunity, I must set out the reasoning why. Why do I want my CTS? Why do I think this will help me or my employer? Once I’m able to candidly answer those questions with viable answers I proceed to registering etc. and getting started. When you work in an industry such as Pro AV, or any other industry that involves technology, the trends are always changing. Something bigger, faster, and better is always around the corner and if you were to stop and say “well I have my cts, so I’m now done learning” you will eventually find yourself left behind.
The Where’s: Where Should You Look for These Opportunities?
Literally EVERYWHERE! The places to look for educational opportunities will all depend on the topic or goals you set forth. For example, when looking for a certification involved in Telecom, I would head to Google and type “most popular certifications in telecom”. It is here that I uncovered the CTNS, found reviews from past students, and also uncovered similar courses that I could use to expand on the CTNS itself. Outside of search engines, I find that some of the most valuable courses are within our industry. For example, everyone might be most familiar with CTS, CTS-I, and CTS-D offered by AVIXA. However, looking beyond those you will find entire online trainings and “universities” that are offered by the different manufacturers. My absolute favorite is Harman Pro Training and I have previously credited this site for helping me achieve my CTS in the past. I find that these courses are most beneficial because while some do center in on specific Harman products and technologies, they also feature their Core Curriculum which is perfect for anyone trying to learn the basics and build momentum on future learning. Another method is one of my newer “go-to’s” which is Linkedin Learning. Linkedin offers a tremendous opportunity for furthering education, and they allow you to tell them and select what you want to learn. Would you believe I recently achieved a certification for “Writing an Effective Blog?” That exists! I would challenge everyone to check out Linkedin Learning and find your own tract to help!
The benefits of A.B.L. come in different ways. First, the most obvious, is you are developing new skill-sets and broadening your own education. Second, there are financial benefits. For example, by completing a certification such as Dante from Audinate, you are now able to speak more knowledgeably on the technology, the equipment needed, and how to best help the customers. This in term could lead to growth in sales and growth in revenue. Thirdly, to position yourself as the expert. The reason why so many in Pro AV add “CTS” to their email signature is to highlight that you are up to speed on the latest technologies and trends and are the “expert” that can answer their questions and concerns. I take pride in that and while I certainly don’t know everything, I am taking the steps to always get closer! Lastly, I think with any line of work, you run the risk of it getting stale. Doing the same thing every day and never trying to change things up. I like to always be learning because quite frankly, it excites me to have an extra tool in the tool belt. Finding new ways to differentiate myself and my employer while also increasing the product knowledge for which I can confidently speak in future calls and meetings. Confidence is king after all!
In closing, I hope that shed some light on what those letters/certifications mean to me and why I hope it will prompt you to achieve your own. Set out some new goals and challenge yourself to achieve 1 new certification this year. They don’t need to be the most time consuming or the most costly to provide value. As long as you can identify something tangible or intangible that you got from it, then I feel as though it served its purpose! I am always eager to lend a hand, so if anyone would ever like further tips or ideas on how to prepare for education, etc., you can always find me on LinkedIn or contact me here.
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