J Patrick + Associates Blog

AVIXA CTS or Crestron? Weighing the Importance of AV certs

Posted by Daniel Lehman on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 @ 04:39 PM

If you are considering career paths, there is a lot to be said about exploring the many avenues the audiovisual industry has to offer!

The tsunami wave of new technology and the many segments of the industry may leave candidates feeling dizzy. Live events, which accounts for a considerable chunk of AV, may sing to your inner audiophile. On the other hand, tech-savvy av professionals have made their entire careers servicing videoconferencing technologies such as Cisco WebEx and Zoom.

Then there is AV Integration, more like the construction business, or the designing and installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining of these complex audiovisual systems. The demand here for qualified techs is especially high. Every business, big and small is seeing the value in a new conference room complete with videoconferencing, complex sound and lighting, and large format displays. And with software videoconferencing like Webex, they have upped the ante on smart rooms: with network integration so systems can be remotely integrated, controlled and supported.


Conference room, videoconferencing, AV


As our world becomes smaller and the goal of staying connected remains a global imperative, AV integration has experienced the most dynamic growth. AVIXA, the board which handles licensure for the Audiovisual Industry, has marked this trend. AVIXA Board of Director Jeff Day, cited that by 2023 AV Integration (ProAV) will be a “230 Billion Dollar Market..which equates to 3.8% Predicted Compound Annual Growth.” This outpaces our country’s projected GDP rate considerably. So it stands to reason that getting a job as a field engineer or AV Installer in the AV Integration space should be relatively easy with this influx of new business, right?

Here’s the kicker...there seems to be some confusion as to what technical experience hiring managers are looking for in candidates that are applying for the job. AVIXA’s Sean Wargo, Director of Market Intelligence, elaborates:

“The market for AV solutions is consistently strong; the industry must continually grow to meet the demand..the challenge is finding the qualified labor to staff the influx of AV design and integration projects.”

Simply put, there are not enough qualified technicians and designers to step into these roles opening up at the AV Integrators. In fact, many hiring managers at integrators will screen candidates coming from other roles in AV such as Live Events, Acoustics, and Conference Room Support and elect to take a pass.


cat5 cable, wiring, AV So what qualifications are in demand for these hiring managers?

For an AV technician, knowing the ins and outs of basic installation such as pulling and terminating cat5 and cat6 cable, soldering, installing LEDs, projectors, and microphones are definitely crucial skills and they have their place. But is it enough to advance past an entry-level technician job? Like most technology businesses, AV integrators margins are shrinking when it comes to building and selling hardware systems, and trending more towards software-based solutions. It seems that it is in the best interest for savvy AV technicians to invest in the right vendor certifications to get ahead of the curve. Here’s the issue, there are almost as many industry certifications as there are racks of gear being pumped out of the warehouses of these integrators. You have the AVIXA CTS or CTS D or CTS I variants, the slew of Crestron certifications, Extron, Biamp, Tesira, and the list goes on. Not to mention, they tend to be on the pricey side. For example, the CTS prep course (highly recommended) is around $1000, and the CTS exam itself is $175 so getting them all is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.


So if you’ve spotted your dream job in AV integration what training should take priority if you want to take your career to the next level?

There are no simple answers. This author’s job involves talking to experienced candidates and hiring managers in the audiovisual industry. So throughout the day, I started asking the question: in your experience, what is the best experience? Over several conversations between candidates and managers alike certain patterns began to emerge. There seems to be a lot of agreement on the Being AVIXA CTS holders: has value and is recognized everywhere. However, it’s value to hiring managers is that it covers broad industry knowledge. In this way, it is more of a ticket to play as opposed to any indication of specific knowledge or experience. More credence might be given to the CTS -I (for AV Installation) and CTS-D (for Design), in that these tests are regarded as more difficult and deal with specific job functions in AV. Still, the CTS certs serve the valuable purpose of helping you gain visibility amongst hiring managers and recruiters. In one manager’s words, a CTS is never required but shows the individual is “self-motivated and passionate about AV.”


XLR cable, wiring, AV

The general consensus seems to be that vendor-specific training is much more applicable in the field. While every integrator’s process is a little different, there is considerable overlap in the technology being utilized. So certain vendor certs appear to be worth their weight in gold when it comes to getting recognized by hiring managers. As stated earlier, many of these certifications line up with the trend of AV moving from hardware to software business. Crestron, which is the Windows software used to program audiovisual components in smart rooms, is ubiquitous in commercial settings. Installers that possess certifications from Crestron, such as the DCM-E-4k, consistently have an edge up in the marketplace. When a hiring manager asks you: “Your programmer is offsite and sends your files to upload, how do you get it onto the system?” Candidates applying for Field Engineer need to know that the answer is using Crestron Toolbox, and should also know its basic functions. Many techs hear “programming” and want to run for the hills, but the training is not as scary as one might think. According to one candidate with 30 years in ProAV:

Crestron’s certification program is fabulously well run and gives plenty of time for test preparation.”

DSP vendor certs such as Biamp, Dante and Tesira also score high points on the application. Again, integrators will vary in their choices, but Biamp’s offerings in particular thoroughly cover the “audio” in audiovisual.  Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) is one specific area that is covered, to achieve maximum speech quality in audio in a conference room. Many integrators will have at least one key contact on staff that is Biamp certified and serves as a channel partner to the Oregon Based equipment provider. So you can bet engineers that are Biamp certified and can write DSPs programs to improve sound will be highly sought after by many AV integrators.  

With all this said it may come as no surprise that to hiring managers, experience trumps most anything. Still, if you’re not yet working on the complex AV systems of your dreams, it may be smart to get exposure to the technology hiring managers are looking for by seeking out these certifications early on. It is true that many firms will pay for training, but what if you are not currently employed or climbing the ranks at an integrator? If coming out of pocket yourself is not an option, many of these vendors have free online training to get you started (links to crestron and Biamp page). Targeting AV integration projects that are using these technologies and seeking an entry-level spot is also a strategy worth considering.

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Tags: AV/VTC/UC, Career Path, Video Interview, Career Advice

7 Reasons You Need To Talk To A Recruiter

Posted by Nicholas Stearns on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 11:10 AM



When you’re happy in your job, taking calls from recruiters may seem counter-intuitive. But it’s actually one of the best times to speak with a headhunter.


Here are 7 reasons why:


1. There’s A Lot To Be Gained

Your time is worth a lot and you don’t want to waste it, so it’s understandable if you don’t want to hear about another job opportunity. But, the good recruiter knows how to get to the point, and they won’t take an inordinate amount of time, yet hey very well may have a lot to offer. It’s worth a few minutes to learn about possible opportunities in your field and to make a connection with a respected recruiter. And all it costs is a bit of your lunch break.


2. They Know How Green The Grass Is

You may not think you’re interested in leaving your current job but recruiters often work to fill positions that aren’t entirely public yet. Talking to a good headhunter gives you insight into the possibilities in your industry as they are often on the leading edge of trends and market movement. It's highly possible they are working on filling jobs that you’d have no other way of knowing about, and it could very well \turn out to be the perfect next step.


3. The Future Isn’t Now

Even if none of the jobs the recruiter has to offer are what you want, remember,  this phone call is not wasted time. Save their number, ask them to keep you in mind for future openings, and then keep doing what you love. Just because they don’t have the perfect opening for you right now, doesn’t mean that in 6 months or 3 years that your dream position won’t be open. Or that your situation will be the same. Relationships with recruiters are not entirely about getting you a job. For more on that read here.


4. Companies Change

Situations have a habit of changing. Companies go through restructuring, and positions get overhauled. Managers and coworkers get promoted or go to another company. The company you love today may not be the same in 5 years. Maintaining your relationship with a recruiter is a great way to keep your options open without having to make any commitments.


5. You Change Too

What you enjoy and find challenging will also evolve over time. And sometimes, in order to find the roles that can help you meet those challenges, you need to move organizations. After all, the average employee in America can expect to have anywhere from 10 to 15 different jobs in their career. And this is where having a relationship with a recruiter helps; they’ll be there when you’re ready.


6. A Chance Market Research

Recruiters work in your field all the time, and they tend to know the average value of your position. A conversation with a headhunter is a  great way to do some of your own market research. You may find that your current compensation is not equal to the market, or you may find out how good you have it, and quell any thoughts about moving jobs. Another value recruiters add is they can give you insight into what other industries are looking for people with your skill set.


7. Lending A Helping Hand

Just because the job isn’t something you’re interested in, you may very well know someone who is. Many recruiting firms offer a referral program. 10 minutes on the phone might not get you a job, but it could advance a friend’s career, and earn you a bonus.

A call from a recruiter, especially when you’re in a great spot, can look like a bother. But when you know about the added value, you realize it’s an opportunity to learn more about your industry and the space you work in.


If you’re interested in speaking to a recruiter about your career path or job search to see if there’s a role that's a good fit for you, CLICK HERE.  


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7 interview tips to blow it out of the water

Posted by Glenda Gregorio on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 @ 03:23 PM

Are you prepared for your job interview?


Preparing for the interview takes more than a simple Google search of common interview questions. To make a great first impression you should use every tool in your toolbox to make you a remarkable applicant. Preparing for the interview will help to ease your nerves and ensure that you are ready to speak about your skills and accomplishments like the expert that you are! Here are some interview tips to help you shine.




1. Start with your Resume

You will have to speak about everything in your resume in great detail. Make sure to have key points to talk about your resume. Review your resume to make sure that you have not stretched the truth in certain areas. Also, be sure to bring extra copies of your resume to pass out.


2. Question Preparation

Spend some time preparing for the actual interview questions, think about ones that may come up and develop answers that will address what the employer is looking for. Also, formulate questions that you'd like to ask the interviewer, such as "what was the most challenging project you have worked on while your time in the company?" or "what is the next step in moving forward?" Rehearse your potential answers, but on the day of the interview make it sound natural and not rehearsed. The job description is also a good place to look for question ideas.


3. Company Research

Do in-depth research on the company. Learn about the company's mission, history, news events, conferences, and future development. Don't forget to check out the company's social media accounts to discover what the company is doing on a day-to-day basis and its interaction within their industry. You'd be surprised by how much information you can find on companies' social media accounts! Nicole, a Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup says, "By thoroughly researching the employer you increase your chances of making a positive and memorable first impression. I would recommend digging deeper than just general knowledge about an employer.

  • What are the services/products that the company offers?
  • How large is the company? Other locations? How many employees?
  • What is their philosophy or mission statement?
  • Do they have other locations?
  • Have they won any awards or received recognition?
  • Do they give back to the community?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Research the executives and the person you are interviewing with.

"The more you have the better impression you will make and be more confident you will feel in the interview."


4. Leverage Your Network

Make sure to use all of your resources to learn about the internal aspects of the company, especially your LinkedIn connections. Do you know someone who works in the company? Have you attended events of conferences that the company has also attended? Mentioning current employees and events or conferences attended by the company can show how much you know about the company and how quickly you can assimilate to their company. This is also a great way to show off your communication skills!


5. Talk to Your Recruiter

Make sure to talk to your recruiter! Your recruiter is one of your most valuable resources and should be used to prep and coach you for the interview. Your recruiter will have valuable information on the company that can boost your interview such as specific questions to prepare for, the personality of the hiring manager or the qualities searched for in candidates. Your recruiter can be your potential lifeline and make a difference in the outcome of the interview.


Day of the Interview Preparation


6. Arrive on Time

Make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview, to allow for time to fill out additional paperwork. It will also make a great first impression on the interviewer.


7. Interview Outfit (Attire)

Make sure to look as professional as possible! While some companies have a more business casual atmosphere, others prefer the traditional button down and pressed suit image. Make sure that your attire matches the company dress code. For either type of company, make sure your clothes are clean, ironed, and your shoes shined. As the old saying goes "the first impression is the most lasting."


Need help with your job search? Check out all our current openings by clicking here. Or connect with a recruiter to find a job that's a great fit.


Need more career advice, job interview tips, or wondering how to go about a vtc interview? Check out our Blog for more helpful information!


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6 Ways To Refocus your Team and Get back to Making Deals

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Mar 07, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Career Advice Making Deals


It happens to the best managers - your team was cruising along, making deals and running like the well-oiled machine you built it to be.

But then something happens. The latest flu makes the rounds in the office picking your employees off one by one, or people are having a hard time refocusing after vacation. Whatever the reasons, it's time for you to refocus your team and get things ramped back up.


Here are some ideas to help guide you.


Wipe The Slate

A stockpile of work can be overwhelming, but there’s nothing worse than having fluff making the pile even higher. Take the time to go through projects and clear out irrelevant and outdated tasks. What seemed like an important project back in early July may no longer be applicable. Clear the decks so you can get the team working toward clear and achievable goals.


Make A Plan

Even if you had the whole year mapped out, now is the time to realign and reprioritize. The best way to get your team back into fighting shape is to present them with a game plan. Clear priorities and a newly energized effort help set the tone. We are back and ready to start cranking out the deals!


Resurrect Boundaries

Dress code and Friday closing times aren’t the only things to get loosened up in the summertime. Boundaries and conventions have a habit of slipping as well. Take these days in the early part of September to re-establish the conventions that help make you the most productive. Close the door on your office or put your phone on Do Not Disturb for a few hours in the morning in order to give yourself the time you need to refocus. Do what you need to do to send the signal to your team that it’s nose to the grindstone time.


Authorize and Engage

Sometimes the best way to get the blood going, and to show your team they're valued, is to change things up. You've hired a cracker-jack team, now it's time to push them. Give an individual a new responsibility, enhance a particular group’s reach. This isn’t about playing favorites, but it is about creating new avenues for development, both individually and for the team as a whole.


A Little Competition Goes A Long Way

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get people back into fighting form. Creating a sales competition is a great way to get the blood going again.

If a sales competition is not pertinent to your business, then try a fundraising challenge or even plan a sporting event. The idea is to get the team reinvigorated and re-engaged both together, and individually.

Take the time to reinvigorate and re-engage your employees, and the benefits will be seen long past the close of the quarter.


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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Career Strategies, Career Advice