Many of today’s electrical contractors are constantly trying to expand their offerings. In an effort to increase their marketability, these contractors are seeking certifications to broaden their knowledge base.

Cisco provides a variety of certifications for content and storage application networking, voice/video applications and critical modern infrastructure services such as wireless access, and network services such as security and management.

For example, a CCDP (Cisco-Certified Design Professional) certification requires an advanced knowledge of network design. With a CCDP certification, an electrical contractor can design networks involving LAN, WAN and dial-up access services while applying modular design practices to be sure the system responds efficiently.

The CCIP certification (Cisco-Certified Internetwork Professional) provides individuals working in service provider organizations with a better understanding of infrastructure Internet Protocol networking solutions. Attendees of the CCIP classes have detailed understanding of networking technologies in the service provider arena.

Cisco’s CCNP certification (Cisco-Certified Network Professional) grants more advanced knowledge of networks. With a CCNP, electrical contractors can install, configure and troubleshoot local and wide area networks for enterprise organizations with networks from 100 to more than 500 nodes. This is particularly useful for those working in the security, converged networks, quality of service (QoS), virtual private networks (VPN) and broadband markets.

The CCSP (Cisco-Certified Security Professional) certification provides experienced network professionals with professional-level recognition in designing and implementing Cisco secure networks. Electrical contractors holding CCSP certificates are actively involved in developing business solutions and designing and implementing various levels of security departments.

In the early 1980s, the telecommunications industry in the United States underwent tremendous change and, for the first time, numerous companies were permitted to compete as telecommunications service providers. While this was an exciting time for most companies, it also led to some industry confusion over qualified providers. As a result, Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) established a registration program to provide standards-based design and installation guidelines and methods accepted by the telecommunications industry.

Many electrical contractors are now embracing these programs.

BICSI offers a variety of certifications to become a Registered Communications Distribution Designer. Contractors who obtain RCDD certification demonstrate proficiency in the design, integration and implementation of telecommunications transport systems and related infrastructure components.

In addition, engineers seeking a more thorough certification can look into becoming a RCDD/LAN specialist. In addition to a basic RCDD foundation, LAN specialists receive proficiency on both local area networks and internetworking design. Installers (Levels 1 and 2) and technicians receive proficiency in conduction of site surveys, pulling wire/cable and optical fiber cable to the highest level of specification.

Electrical contractors looking to become residential installers must have an ability to design and install a variety of structured cabling network systems, including new construction or retrofits.

More than 40 percent of all electrical contractors are currently incorporating communications work into their schedules. Because of this increasing trend, enhancement, certification and apprenticeship programs must be embraced by the industry in order to move forward.

As many electrical contractors are now being recognized as telecommunications contractors, the need for more specialized training is increasing. Communications work is a substantially different trade than electrical work and should be treated as such. Most would agree that proper training is of the utmost importance. Helping contractors thrive in today’s changing marketplace is the key to this growing trend.

The electrical contracting faces many challenges today; therefore, an ongoing process to define and redefine the business process enterprise is required. Strategic planning provides focus and direction for activities and resource allocation.

Cisco Learning Institute has designed a new Home Technology Integrator (HTI) training program to provide in-depth product and installation training on Leviton Integrated Networks structured wiring offerings and Leviton Decora Home Controls (DHC) home automation products.

This program is particularly ideal for trade school graduates, electricians and electrical apprentices as it discusses the growth in today’s home technology market. Home training as well as on-site schooling is also available.

The new program is designed to offer contractors the product and application training to successfully install a full complement of home networking, entertainment, security, lighting and other home wiring technologies. For example, participants receive a comprehensive overview of residential subsystems, structured wiring, systems integration plus an introduction to networking, safety and security issues.

“Delivering this new course for the growing home integrator market is an exciting opportunity for Cisco Learning Institute,” said David Alexander, Ph.D. Executive Director Cisco Learning Institute. “Together with our partners, we will be offering a world-class training program. Our mission is to enhance the way teachers teach and students learn through technology. This program is an example of how our efforts can benefit not only individuals but a whole industry sector.”

One of the largest trends in electrical contracting is home automation—an integrated line of structured media, lighting control and power quality products packaged to meet the needs of today’s “connected home.”

According to Ian Hendler, channel manager for Leviton Integrated Networks, “The growth of broadband in the home coupled with the growth of home entertainment, security whole-house lighting control and smart appliances has created new opportunities for electricians and home systems integrators.” EC

SPEED is a freelance writer based in Weymouth, Mass. She can be reached at 617.529.2676 or kkspeed@aol.com.