ESA Certifications – A Roadmap to Professional Growth 

ESA Certifications – A Roadmap to Professional Growth 
Michelle Yungblut — July 25, 2023

I recently heard from an ESA Member that they came very close to losing their most cherished technician. The tech was being wooed away by a competitor who was offering more money. The member company was able to salvage the tech by offering them a clearly defined professional growth roadmap that included upskilling opportunities, pay raises, and title changes. Critical to this growth plan were certifications that the tech could earn using ESA’s certification program. It was very surprising to the company that providing this type of plan was so very important to the technician. A recent study done by Amazon supports this. Amazon commissioned research firm Workplace Intelligence to conduct a blind survey of 3,000 U.S. employees from a variety of industries and companies and it found that almost three-quarters of Millennial and Gen Z workers are planning to quit their jobs in 2023 due to a lack of skills-building opportunities. ESA has been keeping an eye on this trend and has been working hard to develop career paths for our members through our Training as a Service program as well as our certifications. These programs are easy to put in place for companies of all sizes. 

ESA’s Certification Program’s Evolution

ESA’s Certification program has been evolving since the early 2000’s. It started with the flagship Certified Alarm Technician Level I program and has now grown to include 12 certification tracks that include intrusion, fire, integration, video, and sales credentials. Not only do many regulators and AHJs recognize these certifications, but companies are also using them as ways to invest in their employees, provide payroll incentives, and prove to their customers that their technicians are the best in their fields.  

ESA’s certifications are recognized credentials that technicians can utilize to ensure they are well trained and experienced in their respective fields. Some training providers tout their courses as certifications, but per professional credentialing standards, a certification is not just a course you take and consider yourself done. Professional certifications are much more comprehensive because attaining a certification/credential means earning it and maintaining it. In ESA’s case, our certifications provide training as part of the ‘earning’ component – another benefit to technicians and companies. ESA also believes that training for the electronic security industry should not be a “once and done” activity.  With codes and standards on a continuous improvement cycle, the fast track of new technological developments and advancements in life safety techniques, technicians need to be continuously learning. ESA’’ education model is built upon certifications that need to be maintained by taking continuing education courses and proving  on-the-job experience.  This level of accomplishment is something to be proud of and to share with customers and solution partners.  

Certification Course Offerings

ESA offers the following Intrusion and Video certifications, so definitely something for all levels of technicians. 

  • Certified Alarm Technician (CAT) Level I 
  • Certified Intrusion Technician (CIT) Level II 
  • Certified Alarm Technician (CAT) Level II 
  • Certified Service Technician (CST) 
  • Certified Systems Integrator (CSI) 
  • Certified Security Systems Integrator (CSSI) 
  • Certified Video Technician (CVT) 
  • Certified Video Systems Specialist (CVSS) 

ESA Fire Certifications

ESA’s Fire Certifications are a hot topic because they are now recognized in 12 jurisdictions as an alternate to NICET Fire Alarm Level II or III. The two certifications that are most popular are the Certified Fire Alarm Technician Level II and Certified Fire Alarm Designer Level III. For companies that offer fire alarm system installation and design, these are great professional growth plans to offer to their technicians, as they involve a training and experience roadmap that entails 48 – 64 hours of course work, several proctored exams, and an additional 2 – 5 years of on-the-job experience. The courses included in these certifications are in-depth fire alarm system installation techniques courses and are tied directly to NFPA requirements. The ESA Education Committee reviews these courses every two years to ensure they are using the most appropriate code references. Companies whose technicians are ESA-certified can guarantee they are learning the most up-to-date installation requirements.  

If the outcome of the research study I mentioned at the beginning of this article did not scare you, then you should go back and re-read it. It’s staggering to consider 75% of your team might be considering leaving. Finding and retaining skilled workers is, and has been, the number one challenge of ESA’s membership base for many consecutive years. If this research tells us anything, the industry needs to invest in its workforce and provide them with upskilling opportunities to show them commitment.  



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