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Associations Focus: Educated Edge

Aug 1, 2006 12:00 PM

Mobile training, instructional courses, and hands-on exams build competitive business skills.

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Through a new partnership with the NSCA Education Foundation, the association has doubled the amount of Education Credits that corporate contractor members will receive. As an additional perk, branch offices will now be provided with their own credits. Through this opportunity, $400 in Education Credits will be allotted to each corporate contractor member company, with $100 added for each branch of that company.

“These new benefits are really exciting,” says Jodi Montgomery, NSCA director of member services. “Thanks to the support of the NSCA Education Foundation, we can increase educational opportunities in the industry, and provide additional value to companies seeking to improve their business through training.”

Corporate contractor members can use their Education Credits for any NSCA class or learning event that totals $200 or more. This includes NSCA Expo courses and Fall Business Conference attendance, among other opportunities.

The credits come in $100 increments, and thus may be allocated for a combination of different educational offerings. They are non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. Educational Credits may not be used for purchases made at the NSCA bookstore, or for E-Learning training programs or NSCA certification exams.


Education and training are essential components to gaining a competitive edge in business, and an ongoing investment in these areas will produce a motivated staff that bolsters your company's reputation on every project. But, an inhouse training department is a luxury few companies can support. NSCA offers a cost-effective way to bring training into your organization with its Electronic Systems Technician (EST) training series.

Slated to start in mid-September, classes for first-year, second-year, and third-year EST programs are designed to provide installers and technicians with educational fundamentals for building low-voltage systems. Participating companies need only provide a facilitator for inhouse training, and the EST program provides the rest of the materials, including a step-by-step guide to the curriculum.

“It's a very effective training format, because it combines book knowledge with the facilitator's field experience in a guided forum,” says Norah Hammond, NSCA director of credentialing programs. “This blend of learning opportunities provides the student with the ultimate path to success.”

For those companies with an existing training department, EST materials can be used in conjunction with inhouse programs to guarantee a thorough understanding for all personnel levels.


The electronic systems industry has many leaders with expertise from an array of backgrounds. When combined with contributions from their colleagues, these individuals can provide broad insight to the benefit of many. One such leader is John Waddel, vice president of operations for Communication Specialists of Virginia, Inc. (CSI) in Mechanicsville, Va. Initiating his career in electrical contracting, Waddel branched out into fire alarm work, and then made the switch to systems integration, joining CSI seven years ago. During his years with the company, he has taken an influential role in the EST program, most recently accepting the title of “master verifier” for the hands-on performance exams.

“As a licensed master electrician, I really believe in the licensing structure that the industry has in place,” Waddel says. “When NSCA came up with the EST program, it was exactly what the low-voltage industry needed. We've talked to owners, manufacturers, engineers, and architecture firms about the program, and everybody recognizes that there was a void in the industry from a certification and licensing standpoint.”

With the encouragement of CSI president and CEO Ron Pusey, who has enthusiastically supported EST efforts from the start, Waddel has gone on the road with NSCA, verifying the hands-on portion of the EST exams regionally and at the annual Systems Integration Expo.

“Since the implementation of the EST program, we've seen people gain a level of pride from being able to say they've passed the exam,” Waddel says. “It's a tough exam, and that's by design. We want it to be a tough exam, so it has some meaning and weight to it.”


Seats are selling out fast for the 2006 NSCA Fall Business Conference, scheduled for Oct. 26-28 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grand Dunes. For the first time this year, FBC attendees will be able to accumulate learning units toward a certificate of completion from NSCA University. Course offerings are available at

For more information about NSCA, visit or call (800) 446-6722.

NSCA Calendar of Events

Aug. 18

C-EST Online Review Begins for San Francisco Exam

Aug. 31

Fall Business Conference Advance Registration Deadline

Sept. 8

C-SI Review Package Deadline, San Francisco

Sept. 15

C-SI Online Review Begins for San Francisco Exam

Sept. 28

C-SI & C-EST Exam Registration Deadline, San Francisco

Oct. 17

C-SI One-day Review, San Francisco

Oct. 17-18

C-EST Two-day Review, San Francisco

Oct. 18

C-SI Exam, San Francisco

Oct. 19

C-EST Exam, San Francisco

Oct. 19-20

Project Management for Systems Projects, San Francisco

Oct. 26-28

Fall Business Conference, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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