Tech Training Revisited: Valuable Resources and Tips
Tech expert Bob Dolph selects a listing of valuable tech training resources to help get interested future low-voltage technicians on the right track, as well as help integrator veterans.
As with any occupation, we have rules and regulations. Some are firm and written in stone, and then others not so much. Still, it is important for any serious systems tech to understand which is what and how to follow them.
What got me thinking about this topic was that I recently ran across a novice alarm tech that was self-taught on YouTube that had asked, “Where can I get some low voltage training about codes, local and national?” So, I felt it was a good time for review.
Myself, having been in the industry for some time, have some thoughts on where and what to look for with reference to low-voltage and security systems training. However, if you are just starting out, or even looking at the prospect of being a systems tech, you probably have no idea of where to begin.
If you are a non-industry person looking for ideas on where to go for low-voltage (>50 volts) training, you will most likely first run across programs that are designed by and for electricians. I have no complaints about this approach, except it usually misses the true essence of low-voltage systems such as CCTV, security, fire, audio, etc. Installing power outlets and lighting, and low-voltage systems are two different arenas.
This is where I feel our industry has fallen short in promoting our many exciting and rewarding jobs to the outside world. We all know the great shortage for skilled labor in our industry, but what are we doing about it? Not much from what I have seen.
Do we have public commercials or even online YouTube documentaries for those curious to discover? Very little from what I have recently noticed. Do we go out to the high schools and display all the cool things we do with our systems? The industry needs to get on the ball, especially when the rest of the world is finally discovering the value of a trade school education.
I have selected a listing of what I feel are valuable tech training resources, which I hope will at least get a seriously interested future low-voltage technician on the right track. Many programs require some investment in either an organization’s membership and/or program registration.
Potential future techs must realize that early on they will have to make some minimal investment in their career. However, there are a few diamonds-in-the-rough, which are free. So keep an eye out.
ESA National Training School (NTS) is a highly recognized provider of training, certifications and continuing educations for the evolving electronic security and life safety industry. Check out their NTS course catalog.
BICSI ICT Installation Program is highly recommended if you want to start your path to being an expert in cabling. Even with a more wireless world, much depends on a secure wired backbone. Many great certification programs.
Mike Holt Training Resources has many good programs and training material. Mike’s programs have been around for many years, and I have even taken some of them. There are many FREE resources as well, so make sure to take a close look. You may want to talk to your company about his training packages which deal with both electrical and low-voltage practices. Mike is a true expert on the National Electrical Code (NEC). Make sure to check out his free 2020 NEC Changes Summary. You also might want to check out his code blogs as well.
CEDIA Academy is the place to go if crimping wire, running and calibration may sound like a foreign language. These programs offer both basic and advanced training for smart home technology systems. Hands-on installer training will provide you with a foundation for a successful career as a home technology professional.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the mother of all regulations and codes in the electrical trade, including low-voltage. Did you know that the NEC is actually NFPA 70? Also, did you know that for the last decade you can read NFPA code for FREE just by going to the NFPA Free Access section?
While you will see considerable reference to NFPA codes such as NFPA 70 (NEC) and NFPA 72 (fire), one of the best takeaways for a serious tech is to study and read as much of possible. It is not so you have to memorize the multitude of rules and regs, but to get an overall feeling of what is meant by “doing the job correctly.”
Many simple statements in the NEC, such as “installed in a neat and workmanlike manner” (Chapter 1, 110.12) should be the beginning of why and how such work is accomplished. Other basic, yet important, subjects to consider are the importance of properly tightened connections, markings, identification of circuit disconnection, and equipment spacing and accessibility. Form this professional framework.
Tool of the Month
Keeping track of the many sections in your NFPA 70 book can be challenging.
This 96 tab set comes with additional wiring size poster, and two Ohms Law wheel stickers for your binder and tool box. Available from Mike Holt.
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