How ESPA Steers Quality Technicians Into Electronics Systems Careers

Electronic Systems Professional Alliance partners with high schools, tech schools and community colleges to train and certify entry-level technicians.

INDIANAPOLIS — Ask the leaders of most any installing security contractor to name their top organizational challenges and you can bet hiring and retaining qualified technicians is on that list.

One organization working to attract and train new technical talent for electronics industries is the Electronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA). The alliance was founded in 2006 by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) and National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA).

The founding associations recruited from their network of experienced educators and innovators to create the ESPA curriculum, which covers five key areas: electrical basics; tools; construction methods and materials; wiring and installation practices; standards, codes and safety practices.

ESPA partners with high school career centers, tech schools and community colleges to provide training and certification for entry-level electronic systems technicians (ESTs). According to the ESPA website, certified ESTs possess a solid foundation of knowledge in line with industry best practices, and possess:

  • a proven mastery of electronic systems fundamentals
  • low voltage installation terminologies and techniques
  • a demonstrated commitment to a career in the electronic systems industry

ESPA publishes a continuing series of articles about individuals who achieved EST certification and went on to join the workforce. Following is one such career path success story:

electronic systems

Vinnie Coletta, right, joined SimplexGrinnell in 2015 after achieving Electronic Systems Technicians (EST) certification. Coletta is pictured with his supervisor, Anthony Scalise.

A few years ago, Vinnie Coletta was in his late 20s and working a dead end job in building restoration.  He knew he needed a change and started looking into his options. He considered becoming an electrician, but the long apprenticeship didn’t appeal to him. Coletta discovered the Electrical and Electronic Systems Technician (EEST) program at Lincoln Technical Institute in Union, N.J., which includes some electrical but focuses on electronic systems.

Coletta was especially impressed the program could be completed in less than a year, and included extensive hands-on training. Although the campus was 60 miles from his home, he decided this was the best choice for him. His dedication paid off. He managed to miss only a couple of days, and finished at the top of his class with a 4.0 GPA.

Coletta makes it perfectly clear how pleased he was with the training he received at Lincoln Tech.  “The teachers actually became my mentors, and did everything they could to really prepare me for my new career,” he says. “This inspired me to work even harder.”

When the time came to apply for jobs, it is no surprise he had several great offers. His main area of interest was in fire alarm technology, and he went to work for SimplexGrinnell beginning in July 2015. Managers there told him they felt he was a good investment because he had demonstrated his commitment and work ethic while in the Lincoln Tech program.

Coletta is now celebrating his two-year anniversary on the job. He is an experienced field technician who installs, troubleshoots and programs systems in a variety of locations from hospitals to high-rises to casinos. He has earned various certifications related to fire alarm systems and is now taking advanced training in nurse-call systems and networking. These additional skills will continue to make him more valuable, and he has an even brighter career path ahead of him.

His supervisor, Anthony Scalise, has this to say about Coletta: “Vinnie came to us with great a passion to learn and succeed. Lincoln tech prepared him with the basic low voltage knowledge, hands-on training, and the attitude that we at SimplexGrinnell want all of our technicians to possess. We are pleased to have him!”

Lincoln Tech’s Union, N.J., campus is the top producer of ESPA certified technicians in the country. They bring hundreds of qualified ESTs into the workforce each year. Nationwide there are a total of six EST and EEST programs on Lincoln Tech campuses, on the east coast as well as Chicago, Indianapolis, and Atlanta.

Installing security contractors interested in learning more about the program or how to find ESPA-certified technicians can contact the organization here. ESPA also hosts job boards where businesses from various electronics industries can post career opportunities. The security industry job board is here.

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