The road from AV technician to management is not always direct. Certainly, there are the fundamental skills and attributes you need in order to move from tech to lead, but the route to promotion tends neither to be linear nor all that clearly demarcated.
That much being true, it is also the case that a great audio-visual technician with solid fundamental skills is primed to move into management. They are knowledgeable, reliable, thorough, and have good communication skills that allow for effective customer interactions on the job site. More than that, they understand that their Technical Operations Manager is swamped, and are able and willing to go to great lengths in order to distribute some of the burdens.
While the Ops Manager is in charge of the job, their days are filled with juggling meetings with upper management and clients. Still, they must monitor budget concerns, schedules, parts orders, and troubleshoot day-to-day disasters. If they’re the equivalent of commissioned officers, what they need are reliable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy sergeants out in the field, running interference for them.
So, how does one move from a hands-on position as an AV field technician (foot soldier) to a hands-off role as a field manager (sergeant)? There are three fundamental routes an audio-visual technician can follow to this destination. They are as follows:
Perhaps the first circumstance requires the least explanation of the three, but, as we all know, sometimes it just happens.
I know that sounds too easy, but think about it. You have a team that’s taxed on both ends -- managers who are trying to accomplish a goal on time, within a budget, and up to a standard of quality, and technicians who are racing to get the work done. It very frequently turns out that the best person to play the intermediary is someone who can already do everyone else’s job.
If you’ve proven yourself to be trustworthy, competent, and an apt communicator, then you will likely find yourself entrusted with increasing amounts of responsibility as a natural outworking of having done your job well.
Find A Hole And Fill It
Okay, so let’s say you’re everything you should be on paper, but no one is offering you a bump up. If you think you’re ready, ask for more responsibility. Make it your prerogative to ensure that the job site is kept clean, that customers are happy, and that everyone is following procedure.
This is not to say that you should become a self-appointed boss, only that if you zoom out enough to both see the big picture of an installation and act on your perspective, you will have assumed a position of increased responsibility and demonstrated that you are a person who is capable of taking the initiative.
Since there are many managers out there who are simply too busy to stop and search for the help they need, if you want it, you’re going to have to ask for it. One of the best ways to "ask," in this case, is simply to do.
Go Out And Get It
It’s possible that you’re doing everything that's expected of you: you’re motivated, reliable, trusted and a great mentor to the other guys in the field. And yet, you still struggle to find a way to move up in your company.
If that’s the case, it very well might be time to move on. Not every company is well-suited or prepared to foster in-house talent. It could even be that they’ve given you additional responsibility but are not in a position to bump up your compensation. This is the time to make sure your resume is up to date, and get in touch with a trusted and knowledgeable recruiter.
There’s a great deal of opportunity out there today for motivated and well-rounded techs, but the same truism holds here as elsewhere: you have to make sure you don’t get left behind!