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Why IT Certifications Matter

Mar 14, 2013 4:40 PM, By Tim Kridel

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Pop quiz: What do CCNA, MCSE, and VCP stand for? If you don’t know, there’s a good chance one of two things eventually will happen: You’ll have one or more of those acronyms after your name, or you might be out of a job.

Short for Cisco Certified Network Associate, CCNA is an entry-level certification that says you know how to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched IT networks. Those skills are valuable for AV integrators because signage, surveillance, and other AV applications increasingly run over IT networks.

“The AV and IT merge has already happened, and now Cisco is a videoconferencing supplier,” says Vince Faville, account relationship manager at Video Visions, which specializes in videowalls. “It is becoming essential to understand how Cisco currently fits in the AV ecosystem as the IT director is becoming more involved in the AV decision. The AV integrator needs to understand and be able to explain the ramification of AV on the network.”

No one is saying that CCNA, Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) or Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) will elbow out the CTS or DCSE that many AV pros have after their name. Instead, the consensus is that IT certifications are increasingly important for everything from establishing credibility with a client to career advancement.

“Many times now, the IT staff within a company are in charge of the AV systems,” says Darren Cheshier, Clockworks Consulting Services’ owner. “Also, it’s nearly mandatory for AV systems to be a part of the building network to allow for remote support and service.

“AV personnel must be able to communicate with the IT department in terms they can understand. AV companies must be able to answer, ‘How will this equipment affect my network, and how much bandwidth will it use?’”

IT tools automate a lot of processes for analyzing and troubleshooting networks, but their effectiveness depends on the skills of the people using them.

“Typically we use software tools like Wireshark, Wi-Spy, and AirPcap, but these require the dealer to know about hardware, as well,” says Nic Scott, Crestron’s solutions manager. “[For example,] what is the difference between a switch and a hub, or what is the difference between a monitor port and a network tap?

“There’s a lot to know, and many times it’s onsite learning. But you can prepare yourself for that onsite learning by understanding the terms and technologies that are available.”

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