Why AV Certifications are More than Meets the Eye

Jun 8, 2021 2:01:55 PM

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There’s an old unattributed quote that goes, “A certificate does not make you certified. Attitude, performance, commitment to self and team - these and a certificate make you certified.” It may sound like a line that didn’t make the cut for “The Crown,” but it concisely says everything you need to know about being certified. But to get to the true nature of why certifications are more than meets the eye, we have to unpack it. The first step is to look at some of the top AV certifications and what they mean to technicians, integration firms, and your business.

While the AV industry is very mature in many respects, certifications are still not a universal standard for all AV system technicians, designers, and installers. But as a maturing industry, it has some universally recognized certifying bodies and certifications. These provide businesses and integrators with a measurable foundation used by technicians to build on through lifelong learning and the accumulation of ever-broadening expertise and real-world experiences.

Is There Such a Thing as “Top Certifications”

Among the most recognized certifications in the AV industry are the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credentials. The over 13,000 CTS holders around the globe hold at least one of three CTS credentials accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under the International Organization for Standards (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which include:

  • CTS — Certified Technical Specialist General Certification
  • CTS-D — Certified Technical Specialist in AV Design
  • CTS-I — Certified Technical Specialist in AV Installation

While the CTS is a generalist certification, CTS-I and CTS-D are much more advanced with less than 2,500 holding one of the two and less than 24% of that number holding both advanced certifications.

Management-level AV system design team engineering specialists like Design and Project Engineers are the primary holders of CTS-I and CTS-D. CTS-D is the most difficult to get and considered the most valuable accreditation for any design team or integration firm.

The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association™ (AVIXA), which is part of InfoComm, administers the CTS program. The Digital Signage Experts Group (DSEG) administers vendor-neutral digital signage-specific certifications including:

  • Digital Signage Certified Expert (DSCE)
  • Digital Signage Display Expert (DSDE)
  • Digital Signage Network Expert (DSNE)
  • Digital Content and Media Expert (DCME)

There are also many vendor-specific certifications focusing on the more in-depth aspects of a particular product line that may include various technology solutions.

What certification says about the technician

Both types of certifications convey a sense of immersion in integration best practices for systems and specific vendor brands. The goal is to make sure technicians and designers have a verified understanding of best practices to develop quality installations. This becomes the foundation needed for bringing design innovation to meet specific client/customer needs.

There is certainly an element of pride, accomplishment, and expertise that goes with certifications, but they don’t tell the entire story for clients, individual technicians, or integration firms. For example, quality, adaptability, uniformity, and best practices are likely principles you live by if your business has multiple locations and countless customers. The same principles drive the top certifications and the people and companies seeking them and those recertifying to progress from generalist to specialist to expert. The value of certifications

Earning industry certifications requires countless hours of study, training, application, and testing. This shows a level of commitment to lifelong learning and the pursuit of excellence in those technicians gaining and building on certifications.

The goal of all certifications is to build a base of knowledge, skills, and best practices clearly designed to serve the needs of each client, and their customers by:

  • Assuring competency, experience, and ethical behavior
  • Representing an ingrained knowledge of industry best practices and standards that can be verified as part of evaluating AV technicians and integration firms
  • Showing adherence to a high standard of ethics and conduct.

Your business will face making a choice of AV technician or integration firm partner to meet your business needs wherever you operate in the US. That choice must provide the same level of quality, consistency, and service across every location and branch of your business. This makes it imperative AV technicians and firms be capable of delivering on these attributes locally, regionally, and nationally.

Why AV Integration is Local, Regional, and National

You may represent a company with a single location, but more likely represent a regional or national enterprise. That means providing the same communication, services, products, and customer experience to every end-user and customer across every location. If you’re in this latter group, you must be capable of simultaneously thinking locally, regionally, and nationally to fulfill those principles of quality, adaptability, and uniformity.

Consistent skills, methodologies, and practices

The same applies to the leading integration firms with clients and offices locally, regionally, and even nationally. They must be capable of thinking locally to serve your business while also thinking regionally and even nationally to adhere to that consistency, service, and quality relationship.

By making all AV integration local, regional and national, leading integrators like PTG can build on their culture of experts by attracting skilled technicians across the country. This supports the needs of the best local technicians and the national integration firm to meet the needs of your clients across a local or regional area. The ability of this shared goal enables PTG and its local, regional, and national teams to deliver uncompromising quality, adaptability, and uniformity to every client everywhere.

The right skills in the right place

We can see AV integration technicians, firms, and their clients share a common challenge in making AV integration local, regional, and national when seen through this lens. All three can overcome their respective challenges when expert local technicians and regional/national firms work together. Leading integrators like PTG understand certifications are a start in terms of hard skills. But you cannot easily duplicate the years of experience and understanding in local knowledge and soft skills along with hard skills expertise gained by local and regional independent technicians.

The ongoing commitment to certifications and deep expertise from countless commercial projects across the country must be part of an integration firm's DNA. PTG shows that commitment through the success of reaching every client’s customer and end-user experience goals. This is mirrored in the open dedication to the ongoing support of every technician that brings their experience, certifications, and commitment to personal and team growth. This dedication to cultivating attitude, performance, and commitment to self and team is what gives certification its true value as AV needs for client and customer interactions change in the digital age.


The march towards digital transformation will continue to set a higher standard for local and regional technicians that must have the resources to deliver greater ROI to clients and remain competitive locally. They have in their favor their greatest resource of local/regional knowledge, expertise, experience, certifications, and hard/soft skill sets. By aligning with a national integration firm like PTG that shares their values, they have resources and support to better meet local and regional business needs.

Your business reaps the benefits of these certification-based relationships by eliminating risks and ensuring quality, innovation, agility, and consistency. You also gain access to the broadest slate of in-demand vendor-specific lines and economy of scale that lowers costs. You also get a team of certified and experienced local, regional, and national technicians and designers that understand your industry and markets. This ensures your business gets customized innovative solutions that deliver optimal long-term customer, brand, sales, and service experiences.

To learn more about how to join our growing team of certified experts at PTG, click this link

Michael Hinson

Written by Michael Hinson

Michael Hinson is an industry expert with over 23 years of experience. As the Installation Services & Quality Control Manager at Promotion Technology Group (PTG), he is responsible for managing the relationships between internal employees and sub-contractors. His experience makes him the perfect resource for AV training, both internally and with field technicians. He is currently creating and implementing a Quality Control System ensuring that products and installs meet PTG and industry standards. Mike believes that the success of any install begins and ends with clear and precise communication. He is an avid fisherman and enjoys spending time with his fiancé and his kids. In his free time, he also enjoys kayaking, bike riding and playing a round golf.

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