By Rakesh Kumar Mangal, CTS-D, CTS-I, EAVAI am writing this article to collectively respond to various questions and queries I receive on LinkedIn and various other platforms related to AVIXA CTS Certifications. Before starting any further, you should create a login on the AVIXA website if you have not done so already.How did I come across AVIXA’s CTS certification?The AVIXA Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification has been available to AV professionals for a long time. This certification was developed by AVIXA (formerly known as InfoComm) and a group of subject matter experts working in the industry. I came to know about the CTS program in 2012, while working as a project manager – AV solution. It was a bit late in my career. I reviewed the CTS candidate handbook and the Job Task Analysis (JTA). Although I was able to understand most of the content, it seemed a little overwhelming at that point in time. So, I tried to find training that would help me better understand the content. I first created an account on the AVIXA website and tried to gain as much information as possible. In 2015, the regional AVIXA staff helped me find required study material and informed me about the availability of in-class training in New Delhi. I enrolled immediately and completed my certification within one month from the class training. Following my CTS exam, I did self-study for the Certified Technology Specialist – Installation (CTS-I) and Certified Technology Specialist – Design (CTS-D), which I completed in 2017 and 2019 respectively.What should my starting point be to earn the AVIXA CTS, CTS-I and CTS-D credentials?There is no one training or book which can claim that CTS certifications are based on them completely. However, the CTS Exam Guide, third edition, is the best starting point to gain theoretical knowledge. Do not be afraid as AVIXA offers learning material and training which help candidates prepare for the exam. I will explain them in the next sections. All CTS certification designations are solely based on a Job Task Analysis (JTA). These are published by AVIXA on their website and updated every five years to meet accreditation requirements, as they reflect current industry trends and requirements of the job function’s associated skills. The JTA can be found on AVIXA’s website in the certification sections. Following are the links for the current JTA (as of April 2020):CTS JTACTS-I JTACTS-D JTANote: Consider 30-60 minutes level of effort to review JTA and make yourselfcomfortable with it. You are not required to remember all of this but shouldfamiliarize yourself with it.In addition to JTA, one should also go through the candidate handbook to knowall pre-requisites, fees, testing patterns etc. associated with each CTSdesignation. Candidate handbooks are also published on the AVIXA website:AVIXA CTS Candidate HandbookAVIXA CTS-I Candidate HandbookAVIXA CTS-D Candidate HandbookAs mentioned above, 30-60 minutes of handbook review will give you knowledge of the application process and pre-requites for CTS designations. CTS certifications can be earned by anyone, AV career beginners as well as those with experience in AV. It does not require any pre-experience. However, CTS-I and CTS-D are advanced levels of certification which require you to have earned the CTS – General in good standing and a minimum of two years of experience in Installation or Design respectively. Candidate handbooks are single source of truth for most of the information related to exam.Now that I am familiar with JTA and the CTS handbook: What training and study material should I access?AVIXA Online Training: AVIXA provides two types of online training for CTS candidates.Self-paced courses: AVIXA offers self-paced online courses for all CTS designations, such as the CTS Prep Online course. You can enroll on AVIXA’s online training portal and take them at your own pace. Apart from formal CTS designated courses, there are additional courses such as online project management and AV math course which are useful when preparing for CTS exams.Online Training: Avixa also conducts online instructor-led training that you can utilize.CTS Exam Guide: The CTS Exam Guide published by McGraw Hill is the official study book to prepare for your CTS. It is available through major booksellers. I bought mine from Amazon.AVIXA Virtual workshops/trainings: Due to the global pandemic, all on-site trainings have been put on hold until further notice. Look out for AVIXA offering virtual classroom training and workshops instead. The virtual training schedule can be found on AVIXA’s events page. Training time depends on the workshop in your region and country, normally vary from three-nine days. Nine Days are specific to advanced levels of certifications. Additionally, you may require 30-60 days of study/preparation time based on your comfort level with concepts covered in the JTA.How did I prepare for my CTS exams?I have taken a different approach with each exam, however there was one common starting point — reviewing the JTA and candidate handbook in the beginning.For the CTS-General, I became an AVIXA member and enrolled in a three-day classroom training. This training helped clear my doubts and ambiguity around various concepts. I also studied the content from the CTS Exam Guide. Midway through my preparation, I booked the exam date as a means of motivation. After I passed the exam, I received a congratulatory email from my local AVIXA rep. the following day.For the CTS-I, I was a bit more confident on my study level, so I started with the CTS-I Exam Guide. Again, I booked my exam date midway through preparation. On the scheduled day, I attempted and failed the exam, which was a shocking moment for me. However, I was able to get a report on what skills I was lacking. So, I immediately got back to work and started preparing again. I applied for a retest application after 30 days, tested and … wow! I became one of the few ones in my region to hold CTS-I credential!For the CTS-D, I started with the JTA and realized its focus on maths, as this is required to make critical design decisions. So I took a few webinars on AV Math, and completed the AVIXA AV math for design online course. In the meantime, I continued with my self-study through the CTS-D Exam Guide and took one of the self-paced online courses. Midway through my study, I booked the exam and passed on my first attempt.See related Rants and rAVes — Episode 1021: Why You Need to Register for Next Week’s AVIXA + DSF D=SIGN EventOne thing I learned from my AVIXA CTS course instructor is that you should not be disheartened by any failure. Failures are the foundation for greater success, not only for exam but for your life. Failures will teach you where you lack, what you could do better. With my CTS-I failure I applied the same logic and was able to pass in my retest. By the way, retests are cheaper than the exam!What motivated me to achieve all three CTS designations?The AVIXA CTS credential is a great way to distinguish yourself from the crowd of AV professionals. Studying for the AVIXA CTS exam helps you learn the tools and techniques to provide an exceptional experience to your customer (internal or external) in real life. Instead of working on assumptions, you start making data-driven decisions that are good for you as an individual and for your organization. Data-driven decisions help you provide better customer experience with available resources and take the right approach to fulfill customer needs.The AVIXA CTS certification is also a great tool for professional growth, as it provides you a stand to gain and test expertise in AV. Expertise in AV will help you progress in career and achieve your career aspirations.I am a CTS Holder. Do I need to advance my designation to CTS-I or CTS-D?Officially you are not required to upgrade your CTS designation. You can focus on continuous learning, as you must earn 30 RUs every three years, so you can renew your certification. However, earning a CTS-D or CTS-I comes with added advantages. With advancement to a specialty certification, you gain advanced knowledge which will serve as a tool to provide better customer experience and for your career progression. Additionally, if you earn a specialty certification your CTS will be renewed automatically, as CTS-I and CTS-D are part of continuous learning.Now that I am a CTS holder: How long is the CTS valid and how do I get them renewed?All CTS designations come with a three-year expiration, as the industry changes rapidly during this time and this three-year expiration motivates you to focus on continuous education and learning. There are a couple of ways to get your CTS renewed:Focus on continuous learning and do courses approved for CTS renewal units. You need 30 RUs in three years for renewal.There are AVIXA Courses – Available on AVIXA’s training portal.CTS RU approved courses by external providers – List is available on the AVIXA website.RUs by volunteer work – be an AVIXA Volunteer and spend time for the betterment of the industry to get additional RU’s.Renewal units are a motivation to focus on continuous learning and education to keep you updated with the industry and changing trends.You mention about volunteer work. I want to contribute to the AV Industry. Where should I start?That’s great, you can look for volunteering options on the AVIXA website. There are various ways to contribute. You can choose the best one based on your interest and available time. If you need any help, you can contact your local AVIXA Rep or me for any assistance.I have more questions, how should I reach you?The best way to connect with me is via LinkedIn. Send a connection request on LinkedIn and drop me a PM. I will get back to you in 48-72 hours (a bit more time based on the complexity of the query and my availability).