A Firm Foundation

What the new CIT means for security/commercial integrators

As more devices move onto network-based infrastructure, the boundaries between technology categories are starting to blur. Security systems, enterprise visual communications networks, conference rooms, and smart home systems all require highly specialized expertise in their design and execution, but behind the drywall, they all rely on very similar low-voltage infrastructure.

CEDIA, the global association for the home technology industry, recently ratified a new foundational certification created in reflection of that reality. The Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) certification assesses technicians whose primary task is to perform basic infrastructure wiring for low-voltage technology systems in a residential or commercial setting.

The exam is designed to test whether candidates can use proper tools and techniques; follow instructions per project documentation; operate in a safe and professional manner on the jobsite; and understand the basic function of the wiring and termination components being installed.

Global Recognition
CEDIA represents the smart home integration industry, but these are skills required across all low-voltage trades. This exam is intended for entry-level technicians working in various settings and system types – and now, it has been accredited to the standard ISO/IEC 17024:2012, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

In a nutshell, this means that an objective third party, the American National Standards Institute’s accreditation board, has conducted an exhaustive review of the CIT certification – how its scope was defined, how it is administered and managed, who is involved in its design and maintenance, and more – and judged that CEDIA’s program meets the main internationally recognized standard for how a certification program should be created and run.

Around the world, many enterprises and government entities require ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation as a prerequisite to recognizing a certification program’s validity. Accreditation for the CIT is great news for security integrators. It means that they can use the CIT exam as a benchmark for new technicians’ low-voltage infrastructure installation skills – and that once attained, this certification will be globally acknowledged as a legitimate credential.

Benefits to Security Integrators
The CIT will assist security integrators with hiring as well as benchmarking and training. When a firm hires a CIT, they are hiring someone whose baseline knowledge and skills have been independently verified. The new employee is ready to send to job sites to work under supervision and complete initial infrastructure installation activities.

When their own employees train and test for the CIT, the firm gets an objective measure of their readiness – to work, to advance their careers, and to help train others.

The cross-industry nature of the CIT exam also benefits security integrators. This exam is foundational in more ways than one: it assesses entry-level skills, but it also provides an independently-verified, vendor-neutral set of concepts, vocabulary, and best practices. This means that on large projects, when security contractors sit down with AV, automation and control, and other low-voltage professionals, they can have common underlying language and set of expectations based on the CIT Exam blueprint.

Further, the CIT is useful to security integrators interested in expanding their businesses to encompass other low-voltage systems. Its Equipment and Hardware domain, which comprises 23 percent of the overall exam, encompasses audio, video, basic control, and subsystems in addition to security devices.

This not only improves contractors’ ability to collaborate with allied trades, but empowers them to expand their own portfolios. For the individuals who hold CITs, this breadth offers them mobility as they develop their careers, giving them a firm foundation they can use to specialize.

Preparing to Certify
For those interested in attaining the CIT, CEDIA offers many preparation resources. There are no required prerequisites, but there are formal and informal training options, both guided and self-paced.

In order to assess a candidate’s readiness for the exam, the CIT exam blueprint is the best place to start. It tells candidates what’s on the exam and how heavily each section is weighted in the final scoring.

CEDIA also offers an online practice test. Once a candidate has identified what they need to study, CEDIA offers multiple training pathways to help them prepare. There is an online, self-paced CEDIA CIT Learning pathway, an instructor-led CIT School with both hybrid and in-person options, a CIT Textbook, and whitepapers and standards. All these resources, as well as the CIT Exam Candidate Handbook, can be found on the CEDIA website, and many of them are free.

It is one thing to list a skill on a resume. It’s quite another to have a certification proving that the globally-accepted benchmark for competency in that skill has been met. An ISO/IEC accredited certification is a mark of quality that professionals and experts across industries know to trust. It’s also a differentiator contractors can present to potential customers or employers as proof of their reliability and expertise in a crowded marketplace.

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Security Today.

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