Some people are energized and excited being around other people, while others prefer the solitude and complexity of technology. To succeed in A/V, you must be the rare individual who thrives in both environments. A/V specialists need to have a solid technical education plus the people skills to navigate corporate boardrooms, university classrooms, hospital campuses, and houses of worship.
“A/V is a service-oriented industry. Having a likeable personality is equally important to technical abilities. No matter what facet of A/V you are working in — installing, engineering or sales — your ability to talk with a client with tact and confidence will make you stand out,” says Jeff McDonald, principle and senior account executive at Anderson Audio Visual in Berkeley, Calif.
Of course, being friendly and customer oriented won’t get you very far if you don’t have the technical chops to meet the client’s needs. Organizations in the U.S. almost universally require A/V specialists to have either an associate or bachelor’s degree in audio engineering, electronics, media, or a related field, as well as an InfoComm CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) certification, the number one A/V certification.
To further bolster your credentials, you can earn the CTS-D certification, which proves proficiency in A/V system design, or the CTS-I certification, which shows expertise in A/V system installation and maintenance. It’s critical to have multiple A/V operations skills, but also having a demonstrable specialty can help you stand out among other job candidates.
But, according to Ron Bricker, president of TeamPeople, a media production and staffing firm in Falls Church, VA, these certifications are just the beginning. “There are numerous manufacturer-specific training certifications available, which make the candidate more desirable, especially relating to IT networking, which plays an ever-increasing role in A/V control and system management,” he says.
“With A/V and IT playing increased roles in the enterprise, new and upgraded technologies are constantly emerging,” adds Bricker. “It is important that an A/V specialist be eager and motivated to learn how to use new tools and software.”
In many installations, the line between IT and A/V is heavily blurred. Organizations are using the latest technologies to provide people with increasingly interactive and immersive experiences. So A/V specialists need to understand how new applications, like unified communications, Web and videoconferencing, collaboration tools and social media, intertwine with A/V systems. Staying current with these technologies definitely gives you an edge. Consider this: Many pro-A/V organizations are concerned that skill levels are not keeping pace with technology, according to the 2010 InfoComm Global AV Market Definition and Strategy Study.