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POV: The CTS Revisited

Nov 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D.


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InfoComm has offered its certification program for more than 30 years, and each year it certifies more qualified AV professionals than anyone else in the industry. Individuals, companies, and customers have always recognized the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification for its credibility and integrity.

InfoComm and its Certification Committee continue to make great strides toward achieving the ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation as administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as enhancements are continuously made in the development, recognition, and resulting value of the CTS credentials. We want individuals and companies to be prepared for these exciting changes and reap the many benefits of these efforts.

By making the CTS and CTS-I exams accessible in more than 400 testing centers worldwide starting Dec. 1, 2007, (and the CTS-D expected in spring 2008), the industry expects to develop a larger pool of CTS-certified individuals. The more qualified CTS holders there are in the industry, the more will be available for employers looking for qualified AV professionals, thereby increasing the value and credibility of the workforce. This will also allow more customers to consider requesting certified individuals to work on their projects.

Due to changes in the testing process, CTS and CTS-I candidates will have to conduct a more stringent self-assessment of their readiness than before. The following four-step process is recommended for those who are considering pursuing one of the CTS certifications. Please share these steps with others at your company or organization who are potential candidates for the new exams, as well as with those responsible for personnel certification or training.

The first step to prepare for the exam is a candidate's self-assessment of his or her readiness. Review the description of what a CTS or CTS-I does in the Candidate Handbook Exam Content Outline. Does the candidate feel adequately prepared for the job tasks listed? Has the candidate met the eligibility requirements in some or all of the areas?

The next step is to review the exam content outline or “blueprint” from two different perspectives. First the test taker must determine which content areas represent the greatest number of exam questions. The greater the number of possible questions on the exam, the more focus is needed on these topics to prepare for the exam. The next step is to consider how the candidate's current knowledge and skill compares to these content areas. Individuals may be strong in some areas, yet weak in others. Candidates with extensive training and/or experience in a specific area may decide to focus on the areas they are less familiar with.

It is also important to assess the difficulty level of topics. This can be a challenge, as what might be easy for some can be harder for others. Some topics may also seem broad in scope. Applicants should revisit the credential description and the eligibility requirements, if any, in the candidate handbooks. Is it expected that someone with this level of experience would be able to do this task at this level? Next, using the full duties/tasks/steps document from the exam content outline in the candidate handbooks, evaluate each topic by reviewing the skills, knowledge, tools, and equipment required to do the work appropriately to help you determine the level of preparation needed. The handbook also includes a handy suggested reference works section, as well as sample questions.

Since applicants may possess a variety of experiences within the industry, the self-assessment process is critical to determine resources to help prepare for the exam. In the past, many candidates relied exclusively on InfoComm Academy training materials to provide the majority of what they needed to study to prepare for the exams. The ANSI-administered ISO/IEC 17024 guidelines are very clear about prohibiting the organization providing the exams from “teaching to the test.” No single source will cover the breadth of exam content. This means that, although InfoComm's educational programs, online courses, and books will continue to be excellent training materials, they represent only one avenue of many resources available to help candidates prepare for the new exams. An up-to-date list of suggested references will be continuously provided in the candidate handbooks and at www.infocomm.org/certification.


Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., is the executive director of InfoComm International, a trade association of the professional audiovisual and information communications industries.



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