Home automation is a growing trend that presents new and exciting business opportunities for those in the construction industry. With the ability to monitor energy use and program controls such as light dimming, home entertainment and thermostats, home automation is a measure homeowners can take to live a more convenient and eco-conscious lifestyle.
The benefits of home automation not only pertain to the end user but also to businesses that provide the products and services. Although the technology has become more efficient and easier to use, Kerry Moyer, senior director of Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), says installation of home technology still requires the skills of a qualified integrator who understands safety precautions as well as the home’s power grid.
Rich Holmes, president of iHolmes Technologies, a technology integration company in New York, agrees that the more qualified a remodeling professional is, the more they’ll be able reap the rewards of this growing trend. He recommends becoming qualified through certifications.
The Benefits of Certification
1. Develop better customer relations: Holmes says certification education with organizations such as CEA or the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) will help you estimate time and costs accurately, which customers will appreciate when their proposal and final payment are the same amount.
“You can give better estimates because many of the intangibles have been eliminated,” he says.
2. Earn more credibility: “I think the first thing someone can do to add value to their work and business is to certify themselves to an industry-accepted standard,” Moyer says. “It’s one of the best ways you can demonstrate value for your work and business, and increase your own personal value.”
Moyer says certification brings perceived value to your services and differentiates you from your competition because it communicates you’re competent and says you’ve learned the necessary skill sets.
3. Gain valuable industry knowledge: Moyer says certification, specifically the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance’s (ESPA) program, teaches critical information like the basics of electricity, such as Ohm’s Law, electrical load limits and safe wiring practices, among other things. And even if you already have extensive knowledge from your many years of experience, Moyer says it’s always important to “brush up on basics.” Plus, as technology changes, more advanced certifications will develop.
“Just like any other profession, you’re expected to complete some form of ongoing continuing education,” he says. “You must continue to train yourself and gain new understandings.”
About Available Certification
For a basic skill set, look into the Certified-EST® credential offered by the ESPA, an independent association founded by CEA, CEDIA and the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA). According to ESPA’s website, Certified-EST® offers a core curriculum that covers five key areas: electrical basics; tools; construction methods and materials; wiring and installation practices; and standards, codes and safety practices.
Utz Baldwin, CEO of CEDIA, says the ESPA Certified-EST® credential is great for entry-level professionals with less than one year of experience, but more advanced professionals should look into CEDIA’s various levels of certification for residential electronic systems contractors.
“Those interested in becoming CEDIA certified will begin with a pre-test assessment, which will help determine whether the individual is prepared to take a certification exam and can help them plan a course of study if needed,” Baldwin says. “If additional training is recommended, industry professionals can get the training they need through CEDIA University, which offers hands-on training, classroom education, and web-based courses year-round for all levels of experience.”
Other certifications include the Digital Home Technology Integrator (DHTI+) certification by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the CEA. This certification verifies a home technology integration technician’s capabilities to perform the design, configuration, integration, maintenance, diagnosis, and troubleshooting of digital electronic home automation and control systems.
In addition, the Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) offers the Residential Electronics Systems Integrator (RESI) professional certification for those who design and oversee the installation and integration of electronics systems in residences and light commercial buildings.
The Future of Home Automation
Baldwin says CEDIA works with design and build industry organizations such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to help educate their members about incorporating home technology into their services. He also mentions that if one cannot commit the time to becoming certified because training is extensive, he highly recommends forming a partnership with a certified electronic systems professional.
“It allows remodelers to diversify their portfolio of offerings and build their knowledge of home technology, but also allows them to concentrate on their core specialties of designing and remodeling of the home while the (certified professional) concentrates on meeting the client’s home technology needs,” he says.
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