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Why IT Certifications Matter

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

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Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

MCSA is an example of how unified communications is blurring the lines between AV and IT.

“MCSA can be a valuable certification for a variety of reasons,” Judy says. “Many of the monitoring, scheduling, and asset management solutions we provide today require a Windows Server and in some cases an SQL Server.

“The setup and configuration of these applications in a server environment, with communication between multiple servers oftentimes necessary, can be a daunting task for even the most adept AV professional. Add Lync, Jabber, and other enterprise applications in the mix and it becomes difficult to even have a conversation with a client if your team is not well trained and prepared for the plethora of complexities involved.”

MCSA also is worth considering because it’s a prerequisite to MCSE.

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Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

MCSE is a family of eight certifications, many of which are relevant to AV applications. For example, MCSE: Private Cloud could be useful for cloud-based video services.

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VMware Certified Professional – Cloud (VCP)

VCP-Cloud also can be useful for working in cloud-based AV environments, including public, private, and hybrid architectures. This certification covers the installation, configuration, and administration of a cloud environment using vCloud Director and related components.

“The way the industry is moving, I’d say that two years from now, those Microsoft and VMware certifications are going to be as relevant or more relevant than the Cisco certs,” Richardson says.

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There’s no shortage of places where AV pros can get certified.

“You can’t go to a bookstore without tripping over a couple of books for these certifications,” Richardson says. “You register to take these courses through Microsoft or Cisco, and on their websites, they have a list of testing centers. The testing centers typically also are training centers.”

Those centers aren’t limited to major cities.

“Every city has a place where you can send your employees during the day or even at night to get these network certifications,” Wilson says.

Community and online colleges are two other common options.

“DeVry is possibly a good resource,” Cheshier says. “They are teaming up with companies like Cisco and Microsoft to customize their curriculum so that students can easily pass the certification tests.”

Network+ is an example of how certs often have multiple training options. “CompTIA does not offer its own training for Network+ certification, but training is available from a wide variety of third-party vendors, in a wide array of formats,” Taggart says. “You can easily find books, online courses, and classroom courses for Network+ exam preparation with a simple Internet search.

“Instruction styles may differ wildly, but the content will be the same. Choose the preparation method that suits your learning style.”

Finally, if you’re heading to a major tradeshow, check to see if there are any IT certification classes.

“Increasingly, tradeshows such as ISE and InfoComm are offering excellent learning opportunities,” Conley says. “But we are just seeing the beginning of that trend.” One example is InfoComm’s new Networking Technology course, which debuts online this spring at the organization’s annual show.

“InfoComm does not offer a Network+ prep course, but most of the content on the Network+ exam content outline is covered, from an AV perspective, in Networking Technology,” Taggart says. “Networking Technology will also be offered as a classroom course during the preconference education at this year’s InfoComm Show in Orlando. ”

Familiar Ground

If your background is in AV rather than IT, and you want to start on familiar ground, here are three additional options.

CEDIA Networking Theory and Practice

This three-day course has been around for a while, but this year, it’s taught by Cisco-certified trainers and held at Birmingham City University in the UK. By the end of the course, attendees should be able to implement TCP/IP connected hardware in 95 percent of residential installations, CEDIA says. They also get 21 CEDIA educational unit points.

The course covers topics such as 802.11 wireless networking, router configuration, VPNs, segmentation and subnets. Attendees also learn how to define an IP addressing scheme for a project and perform basic troubleshooting tasks on LANs.

Pricing: About $833 for members and $1,090 for non-members.

For more information, visit

InfoComm Networking Technology

This course provides renewal units that are good for all CTS levels. It’s a prerequisite to Networked AV Systems and is intended for AV pros who design, implement, maintain or manage networked AV systems. The class covers the basics of IT and IP networking, including physical and data link layers, addressing, servers, security and troubleshooting.

Pricing: The in-person class is $950 for members and $1,350 for non-members. Online, it’s $49 and $89, respectively.

For more information, visit

InfoComm Networked AV Systems

This three-day course provides renewal units that are good for all CTS levels. It covers topics such as:

  • How AV applications affects enterprise networks
  • Understanding client needs for networked systems, trade-offs between quality and bandwidth, and how to navigate conflicts between network policies and customer demands
  • Software applications such as remote monitoring and management, streaming, and conferencing.

InfoComm recommends having a CTS-level understanding of AV technologies and design principles and a CompTIA Network + level of understanding of networking technologies and design principles. Or take the pretest to see if you’re ready.

The class provides renewal units that are good for all CTS levels.

Pricing: $900 for members, $1,300 for non-members

For more information, visit .

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