Career Opportunities Are Wider Than You Think
Scott Hamilton, A+, advanced technology specialist at MT Business Technologies in Mansfield, Ohio, and Pablo Torres, A+, Network+, field customer service representative IV at the Washington, D.C., branch of Ricoh Corp., both install and support Ricoh networked copiers. These products not only function as copiers, but also as network printers, scanners and faxes.
Hamilton and Torres are not IT workers in the traditional sense, but they strongly believe in the value of IT certification. The extension of IT certification to document imaging and other industries underscores the widespread need for workers who possess the skills.
“Mastering the requirements of the certification gave me the vocabulary of IT and the necessary skills to ensure our products integrate seamlessly with customers’ networks and document workflow,” Hamilton said. “Certification conveys credibility in the eyes of customers and IT professionals.”
“When an IT certified document imaging technician walks in the door, the customer receives additional value, because the service person knows the product and how it interacts with the network. I feel more confident working with the customers’ IT staffers. We share a common understanding for resolving network problems,” Torres said.
When Ricoh Corp., a leader in digital imaging systems, began selling its own brand of plain paper copiers in the United States, the company conducted a market survey of customer preferences. Of the 10 items most important to customer satisfaction, the majority related to service. The company increased an already extensive training effort based on these findings.
Ricoh recognized that the document imaging industry would be transformed by digital technology. Management committed the company to becoming the first all-digital supplier in the industry. The company investigated adopting IT industry certifications to assist in the transformation of its service organization from copier technicians to digital imaging specialists.
Ricoh found that IT certifications were an accurate reflection of current industry standards and best practices, which meant that training mapped to certification ensured relevancy. Certifications are supported by a wealth of course material that helps lower the cost of developing a training program. IT certifications independently validate skills and would distinguish Ricoh’s service organization.
Ricoh mandated CompTIA A+ certification as a minimum benchmark for all of its own technicians and encouraged independent Ricoh dealers to have their technicians earn the A+ as well. Ricoh and its dealers encourage selected specialists to go beyond A+ and earn advanced certifications, not only from CompTIA, but also from Microsoft, Cisco and others.
“In bid requests, customers ask us to indicate the number of certified personnel on staff,” said Bruce Moyer, corporate service manager at MT Business Technologies. “That tells us customers value IT certifications.”
At the Ricoh branch office in Washington, D.C., where Torres is employed, service manager Paul Blodgett observed, “The biggest benefit of having our technicians earn IT certifications is that the service function is much more productive. Increasingly, one technician can go out and deal with hardware, software, network and training issues. This is a digital age, and IT certifications are at the core of digital professional development.”
Most people inside IT know the advantages of IT certification:
- Relevancy to standards and best practices.
- Widespread training opportunities.
- Validation of skills and credibility for the individual.
- Increased productivity.
- Higher morale and company loyalty.
Ricoh is a world-class company outside of IT that did its research and came to the same conclusions about certification’s benefits.
We live in a digital world in terms of products, services and lifestyles. Similar stories to Ricoh’s are being told in industries stretching from manufacturing to medicine and from horticulture to entertainment. Career opportunities for those trained and certified in information and communication technology are expanding. However, these opportunities may not be exclusively in areas that we think of as traditional IT. But when has IT ever been traditional?
Neill Hopkins is vice president of skills development for CompTIA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.