Along with the rise in integrated security systems sales has come the need for designers and technicians to develop different skill sets than those used for traditional security systems. In addition to understanding intrusion protection, video surveillance and access control systems, security professionals also need to know how to make those devices work together to perform as a single, seamless, integrated system. But how can potential employers and customers determine whether a professional has the right skill set? And what is the most straightforward way for people to get the right training?

A new training and certification program under consideration by the Security Industry Association aims to address questions such as these. “The certification will recognize designers for their knowledge and skills,” notes Doug Wright, SIA manager of industry groups, who is helping to spearhead the initiative. “It will also provide manufacturers, dealers, consultants and end users with a tool they can use to select integrators who have proven they have the competency to ‘engineer’ a job correctly.”

SIA envisions the program encompassing three skill levels, including installer, technician, and designer/engineer. “Installers will need a fundamental knowledge of installing and integrating systems,” Wright says. “Technicians will need to have the skills of the installer, while also being able to analyze customer needs and risks.” Designer/engineers will need the skills of both the technician and the installer – and in addition, will need to be proficient in business process management.

“This is a techno-weenie guy who understands information technology and security at a sufficient level that he or she can design an integrated system that might have some elements of both,” notes Bill Nuffer. In addition to being president of Deister Electronics USA, a manufacturer of RFID components and subsystems, Nuffer is the chairman of the subcommittee of SIA’s systems integration industry group that is tasked with exploring security system designer specialist certification. Subcommittee members include integrators, dealers, consultants, educators and manufacturers.

Nuffer expects the initiative to have particular appeal to manufacturers. “If this kind of skill can become widespread, there will be fewer calls to 800-number tech support,” Nuffer says. Manufacturers that pre-qualify customers also could use certification as a customer screening tool.

SIA also is considering the development of a training program to support the certification initiative. Wright emphasizes, however, that “those who already possess the necessary skills will be able to test for the certification without having to complete the training; the intent is not to force candidates to take the training if they already know the material.” In developing any training programs, SIA will strive to incorporate existing training resources where available, creating its own material only where needed. “The plan is to offer web-based training modules,” Wright notes. “Having the training broken into ‘bite-sized chunks,’ candidates can then train specifically in those areas where additional knowledge is required. More importantly, the time commitment could then be kept to a minimum and spread out over time.”

The current plan is to develop a proposal for SIA’s board of directors during fiscal year 2006. The subcommittee already has developed a course outline and occupational task analysis that identifies the core knowledge areas and experience to qualify as a security systems design specialist. “The subcommittee is defining the specific skills, knowledge and experience for qualification in the areas of access control, CCTV, systems design, home automation, monitoring and IT systems,” Wright says. “They are searching for existing training to support the certification program and development of training as required, while making sure not to duplicate what already exists.”

Those interested in getting involved with the subcommittee or who have questions should contact Doug Wright toll free at (866) 817-8888 or