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The Value of Continuing Education for a Programmer

Oct 18, 2012 4:24 PM, By Patrick Barron


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ONGOING CERTIFICATIONS

Going to a series of training class and obtaining a certification does not automatically ensure that a person stays educated and informed about current trends in technology and updated on new equipment. Most manufacturers offer continuing education and have requirements for maintaining certifications that are renewed on an annual basis.

Crestron has an extensive ongoing training program that is held on an invitation-only basis to the programmer that has already achieved certified status. From the company's website: “A Crestron-certified programmer holds the highest respect in the industry due to the rigorous training, extensive experience, and stringent testing required before achieving ‘Crestron Certified’ status. In order to help Crestron-certified programmers stay up-to-date, each year CTI offers exclusive and specialized Masters classes that are invitation-only to Crestron-certified programmers. Masters classes are an invaluable opportunity for programmers to train on the latest Crestron software and hardware, while networking and sharing knowledge with other programmers.”

AMX requires all ACE members to attend a mixture of online and classroom training to maintain their status on an annual basis. When a consultant or integrator verifies certifications they should make sure that the certifications are current. InfoComm has a special group comprised of some of the industry’s top programmers, which is called the Independent Programmer’s Council (IPC). The purpose of the group is to “serve the needs and interests of programmers of control systems, audio, lighting, and other systems who are not employed by hardware vendors or integrators. The council seeks to raise the stature of independent programmers in the industry, provide collective feedback to vendors, define standards of practice, and share professional resources.”

Over the years, the IPC has developed many valuable documents to help other programmers and to aid the industry as a whole to better understand programming concepts. The “Dashboard for Controls” has become a standard reference tool used by consultants, integrators, and end-users to define how a well-programmed system should operate. The IPC strives to help inform the general AV community what to expect from a professional, highly skilled programmer, and to distinguish that individual from rogue programmers. The IPC has released a new series of designations to further distinguish the high-level programmer and to give the consultants a set of criteria to use when specifying more advanced programmers for a particular job. The IPC has developed an InfoComm IPC Bronze, Silver and Gold programmer with the requirements outlined as follows:

Bronze

  • Signed the code of excellence document
  • Carries general liability business insurance
  • Aware of and using the documents that the IPC has published when applicable:
    –Roadmap to Control Quick Reference Guide
    –Roadmap To Control
    –Dashboard for Controls Design Reference
    –Dashboard for Controls Design Guide
    –Recommended Business Practices for Independent Programmers

Silver

  • All items in bronze list plus:
  • One control system manufacturer certification
  • In business at least 3 years.

Gold

  • All items in silver list plus:
  • Two control system manufacturer certifications
  • One member in company has InfoComm CTS status
  • Has at least one other AV certification (such as an audio DSP manufacturer)
  • In business for at least 5 years.

The goal of these new designations is to allow a consultant to specify a high level of programmer that has a broad range of skills. These designations place emphasis not only on programming skills, but also on running a solid business by requiring general liability insurance and a specific length of time in business. An individual might be a great programmer, but no one wins if their company goes out of business before a project is completed due to poor business skills. The companies that meet the above requirements are published in the 2012 IPC member directory found on the InfoComm IPC website. The list is available to the general public, so any system integrator that needs a highly skilled programmer can refer to this directory.

ESSENTIALS OF TRAINING

Continuing education through manufacturer training and participation in professional organizations are valuable resources that a control system programmer can use to stay current with industry trends and emerging technology. Training classes are essential to learn about new products and new programming techniques. Exchanging information with colleagues in organizations can be just as important when sharing tips and techniques that have to be learned through experience and are not taught in class. The certifications obtained by the programmer are important because it shows a dedication to excellence by acquiring the necessary knowledge to perform their job at the highest level. These certifications can be used as an evaluation tool by consultants and by system integrators when certain skills are required. Finding a qualified control system programmer can be a complicated task for a consultant, integrator, or end user, just as attending training can be hard work and time consuming for the programmer. Overall, the importance and value of the training certifications to the programmer cannot be underestimated. Requiring certifications from the manufacturers ensures that the programmer keeps up to date on the current technology. The time spent acquiring these certifications and the knowledge obtained with it is money in the bank to a smart programmer.



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