PLAIN TALK: Are You 'Certifiable'?
A clear sign of a maturing industry is the emergence of certifications offering guidelines (and training) for performing various duties and functions.
For the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) that time came in 1984-85 when leaders from NBFAA and the Alarm Association of Florida (AAF) realized that for our industry to achieve the level of professionalism desired, we would all have to collectively "raise the bar."
That collective meeting of the minds resulted in the creation of the NBFAA's National Training School (NTS) and the development of the association's first training course and certification program, the Level One Certified Alarm Technician.
In the 20 years since inception, NTS has taught more than 22,000 students, and certified tens of thousands of those same students through NTS' nine training courses and three certification programs.
More importantly, what these programs have provided for the industry is a road map for achieving the goal of industry professionalism.
Since 1984-85, numerous other industry certifications have been introducedâ€”or have gained prominenceâ€”and have begun to create the framework for what an alarm industry professional looks like, acts like, and how he performs his duties.
Several SDM 100 companies have established internal requirements for technicians which make attaining NBFAA NTS Level One Certification a condition of employment.
The Installation Quality Certification Program (IQ) includes in its guidelines for quality and false alarm reduction the requirement that all IQ Certified companies' technicians attain NBFAA NTS Level One Certified Alarm Technician status. This requirement clearly shows the connection between reducing errors and the establishment of a measurable quality control process.
Another example is the increased industry prominence of NICET Certification since its inclusion/reference in the 1996 version of NFPA's National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72). This reference goes on to establish recommendations for who is considered qualified to design, install and service fire alarm systems.
Certifications, such as NTS and NICET, have with growing frequency, become referenced in state licensing requirements and building codes due to their ability to aid code officials in establishing measurable standards for technical qualifications.
But the examples do not end there. As recently as 2004, the Security Industry Association (SIA) introduced its Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) program aimed at systems integrators overseeing increasingly complex and detailed systems projects.
So what does this alphabet soup of credentials mean for the industry's technicians, salespeople, and company owners/managers?
As a technician, the industry's various certifications make your qualifications quantifiable for prospective employers.
As a sales professional, these certifications offer a diversity of advanced technological qualifications and improved sales experience.
As an owner/manager, you are no longer left sifting through resumes filled with more questions than answers.
Additionally your company will benefit due to:
- A marketing advantage when compared with competitors.
- Improved customer satisfaction.
- Increased referrals.
Certification provides the industry with benchmarks for comparison and individuals a pathway for pride in their respective accomplishments.
I have never met an NBFAA NTS Instructor, NICET Level 4, or ASIS CPP, who was not proud of achieving their respective certification - a certification which they achieved through hard work, perseverance, and determination.
As a prospective employee you will be coveted. As an employer you will be able to find the "best of the best." And as an industry we will be providing a quality service for our clients.
So the next time you're asked, "Are you certifiable?" I hope you will be able to proudly answer, "Yes."