CE Pro Podcast #76: Assessing the State of CEDIA Education

Outgoing senior vice president of education & training Samantha Ventura takes a look at CEDIA’s successes and what lies ahead.

Listen to this podcast using the embedded player below.

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a long-term boon for custom integrators as homeowners flock to have upgrades to their network and entertainment systems, but can the same be said for CEDIA education? Perhaps. The coronavirus lockdowns accelerated plans to bring a broader online and virtual component to CEDIA education that has long been focused on in-person training at CEDIA Expo and local events.

Ventura, who is leaving the association after 3.5 years at the helm of CEDIA educational efforts, characterizes the state of the association’s education at “strong [and] on a really good trajectory.”

She points in particular to how CEDIA revamped its credential program to create the stackable Integrated Systems Technician (IST) and the Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) certifications.

The new Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) certification assesses knowledge and skills relating to infrastructure wiring, from safety and professionalism, to construction methods and materials, to installation and termination. This certification is intended as an industry starting point – it proves an individual is jobsite ready. It’s also foundational. There is no overlap between exams, so any individual wishing to pursue advanced certification must first prove they’ve mastered basic principles by attaining their CIT.

“I think [the pandemic] taught us a valuable lesson.”

— Samantha Ventura, CEDIA

The revised Integrated Systems Technician (IST) certification assesses the skills of experienced technicians who can independently perform all the tasks relating to pre-wire/first-fix and trim out/second-fix, including basic system configuration, verification, and troubleshooting. Currently, you can use either an active CIT or ESC-T certification to prove you’ve mastered the prerequisites to sit the beta exam.so proud of this team, and also the volunteers who have supported the work.

Even with the pandemic, Ventura says CEDIA’s education team “didn’t miss a beat. We were a little late on a couple things but, honestly, our goal for two to three years was to build the foundation backup<” she notes. “Look at what we’ve done with the job task analysis and look at what we’re going to do with two strong stackable credentials.”

She points out how the new program is good for those in the industry already looking to advance their career, good for somebody just coming into the industry, and good for somebody wanting to go back and revisit what their skillset is and to stay relevant.

She also notes how the education was broadened to cover not just company owners, but also the next level of management and staff. Ventura notes that hybrid education that involves a combination of both online and in-person training is the future. She does not believe it can ever go fully virtual just due to the nature of the business. During the pandemic, CEDIA education went global and the online components attracted an even larger worldwide audience, which is ultimately great for the industry.

“I think [the pandemic] taught us a valuable lesson, which is we already knew our reach was really important, but we knew we needed to keep our best practices in place for online development. It made us take it to the next level of looking at it through the lens of ‘What would this look like for somebody who’s just trying to get into the industry?’, and if this was their first step and going through online education, what are we missing? It let us have a little bit of time to reflect on how to do that better.”