Home Technology Integrator (HTI+)

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In 1957, Disneyland opened Monsanto’s House of the Future. The attraction remained open for 10 years, closing in 1967 with the remodeling of Tomorrowland. During its existence, more than 20 million visitors got a glimpse of what a future home might include. Innovations included insulated glass walls, picture telephones, plastic chairs, microwave ovens, speakerphones and electric toothbrushes. While some of the displayed inventions have not reached our residential environment, many that were not even thought of in the mid-20th century are commonplace in homes today.

Home technology integration during the ’50s was the bastion of the TV repairman. Challenged with limited technical knowledge, homeowners gallantly attempted to resolve technology repairs by removing vacuum tubes from their TV sets and one by one inserted them into the range-size “tube tester” at the local drugstore until the gauge needle pointed to the red zone, indicating the faulty tube had been discovered. Concerns about home security during this era focused on whether or not it made sense to lock the front door and force family members to carry a key so they could gain entry.

“The times, they are a-changing.” TV repair shops are a thing of the past. Decisions about whether or not to lock the house are replaced with concerns about how to implement a remotely monitored perimeter security system. Automated systems, designed to facilitate energy efficiency and occupant convenience, are commonplace. Consumers insist on device connectivity, providing remote access from any place, at any time. Meeting these demands requires the handyman of yesteryear to be a venerable “techno-wizard,” skilled in tasks associated with internetworking and communications protocol.

To meet the challenges associated with verifying the skill set of this new handyman, CompTIA, in partnership the Internet Home Alliance, Sears, CompUSA, Microsoft, Best Buy, Cisco Systems, Honeywell, Panasonic and other industry leaders, has developed the Home Technology Integrator (HTI+) certification.

For candidates with at least one year of technical experience, HTI+ certification is designed to provide career enhancement. Successful candidates are required to pass two certification exams. The first of these exams (#HT0-101) focuses on residential systems and covers a variety of subjects including computer networking, audio/video, home security and surveillance systems, telecommunications standards, home lighting control, HVAC management, water systems controls and home-access controls.

The second exam (#HT0-102) covers structural wiring and systems integration. Candidates are expected to know low- and high-voltage wiring requirements associated with the National Electricity Code (NEC) and EIA/TIA 568a, 568b and 570 standards. The test also covers systems integration, including control processors and user interfaces.

The challenge associated with these exams is their broad coverage. Candidates are expected to possess knowledge of a broad range of technical domains that range from installation of wireless control devices to the planning and installation of home computer networks with Internet access. This breadth of coverage effectively means that even the most skilled integration specialists will gain an insight into technologies they have never implemented.

Because of the “newness” of this certification, the supply of available study material is limited. Courseware includes the “HTI+ Guide to Home Networking” from Course Technology and “Home Technology Integration Fundamentals and Certification” from the Cisco Learning Institute. While both books are well written and provide sufficient content for the exam, the Cisco Learning courseware provides an excellent presentation that includes a lab manual, an accompanying CD with hands-on, Web-based activities as well as hundreds of exam prep questions, and Internet access to Web-based curriculum, which contains more than 50 hands-on labs.

Other helpful Web resources include “Uncle Ted’s Guide to VDV (voice/data/video) Cabling” (www.jimhayes.com/uncleted/) and the 12-article series titled “Electrical Construction and Maintenance” by Dave Dusthimer (ecmweb.com/ar/electric_wired_home/index.htm).

Each certification exam contains 100 questions. Candidates are given 90 minutes to complete each exam. There is some overlap in content so I’d recommend taking the exams a couple of days apart to reduce the need to study the same material twice.

Because of the need to physically interact with hardware installation and maintenance, jobs associated with HTI+ certification will not face overseas outsourcing, common today with many information technology positions. In this service-based economy, home technology integration specialists will find opportunities in the implementation of automated systems in new construction as well as retrofitting systems in older homes. The range of potential customers, including building contractors and homeowners, opens the field to those who would prefer to be self-employed.

A key issue that is covered in the exam objectives is the need to develop an understanding of local regulations governing home technology integration activities. Those considering the self-employment path need to satisfy regulatory requirements relating to licensing. All things considered, in this service-based economy where homeowners are interested in adding “state of the art” technology that will enable them to remotely monitor and control home electronics, a career home technology integration specialist’s future looks bright indeed.

Professor Steve Linthicum teaches computer network security and wireless courses as Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif. His industry credentials include certifications from Microsoft (MCT, MCSE: Security), (ISC)2 (CISSP), CompTIA (A+, Network+, i-Net+, HTI+, Security+, CTT+), Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNA) and Citrix (CCA, CCEA). Professor Linthicum can be reached at slinthicum@sierracollege.edu.


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