A solid foundation in A/V certifications will serve you well in any industry. Bricker points out that “the operational and installation aspects of verticals are similar. Capture, distribution and media management processes and tools are common to all.” But it’s important to be mindful of any industry-specific requirements you might need to fulfill to work in your preferred area. You don’t want to lose an opportunity because you didn’t have the correct security clearance for an elementary school district, for instance, or the right safety gear mandated by OSHA.
A/V specialists should also expect to sometimes keep odd hours, especially when providing A/V services for various venues. McDonald says that the daily routine is very different for each of his employees. “Our installation team starts at 6:00 a.m. and works until 3:00 p.m. For our sales staff, some days are 12-plus hour days working on proposals as the opportunities arise.”
The A/V industry is expected to grow in 2012. InfoComm projects it will be turn into a $91 billion industry this year, up from $68 billion in 2009. However, not all vertical industries offer the same opportunities for A/V specialists.
The corporate A/V specialist has perhaps the broadest reach with a skill set that includes IT integration as well as design and installation.
“Working with corporate clients, we are typically developing the design as well as supplying equipment and installing the systems. Other vertical markets are not as design heavy,” says McDonald. “Our corporate clients also have a loyalty to A/V companies that work well with them and come through for them,” he adds.
In corporate A/V, you need to be able to integrate A/V systems with a variety of new communications systems, such as telepresence solutions and streaming media. The types of equipment you work with can vary greatly, depending on the installation. Corporate A/V specialists are wise to pursue manufacturers’ certifications specific to their A/V products, including those from Extron, Crestron, AMX, Polycom, ClearOne and Cisco/Tandberg.
Sharon Brown, Senior Recruiter for CyberCoders in Austin, Texas, adds, “A professional resume, certifications and industry training, ensuring you have great references—it’s all up to you. Take pride in your industry.”