ETA International: 80 Certifications, Over 40 Years and 4 IT Paths – with Chrissy Baker

by Mirek Burnejko

Chrissy BakerThis is an interview with Chrissy Baker from ETA International. ETA develops certifications for technicians from many fields. 100% neutral.

In this interview you will find:

  • How to prepare for ETA certifications?
  • What connects ETA, CompTIA and Motorola?
  • Why employers look for people with ETA certifications?
  • Where you can find a job if you have an ETA certification?


IT Certification Master: How long have you worked with ETA International and what is your story?

Chrissy Baker: I have worked with ETA for a little over a year now. I am the Marketing and Events Coordinator. My role with the organization is to increase awareness of ETA and the services/products that are offered. I am also responsible for planning the organization’s annual convention, the Education Forum.

ICM: Could you describe the history of ETA International certifications?

CB: ETA International, founded in 1978, began with leaders such as former ETA President, Richard Glass, CETsr, Ron Crow, CETma, D.C. Larson, CET and others who were involved in various local and state electronics associations of that era. The founders chose to form a professional association as opposed to a retail or dealer business league. The organization was and continues to be an association of technicians, by technicians, for technicians. ETA’s program now consists of over 80 certification exams in electronics-related fields. Some of the certifications that ETA offers are: information technology, fiber optics, renewable energy, basic electronics, wireless communications, smarthome, and customer service. ETA is a strong and highly regarded organization with over 5,000 members and has processed over 115,000 certifications.

ICM: ETA International has a set of IT certifications in the portfolio. For whom are they targeted?

CB: ETA’s IT certifications consist of Certified Network Computer Technician (CNCT), Certified Network Systems Technician (CNST), Computer Service Technician (CST), Wireless Network Technician (WNT), and Electronic Security Networking Technician (ESNT). These certifications target security specialists, IT administrators, and the mobile communications and smarthome industries.

ICM: What is the benefit for engineers with ETA International certifications?

CB: Holding an ETA certification provides many benefits. They validate one’s skills in a specific field and compliment degree programs. Many times individuals can advance their career with an ETA certification. Holding an ETA certification also helps the individual to prove their commitment to the industry, gain a competitive edge, enhance their career mobility, raise confidence and personal satisfaction and increase earning potential. ETA International certifications are vendor-neutral.

ICM: What is the benefit for employers when hiring ETA-certified people?

ETA InternationalCB: Employers know that when they are hiring an ETA-certified individual, they are hiring someone who has passed a rigorous examination and has proven they have the knowledge and skills required to do specific high-tech jobs. By having properly trained and qualified technicians mistakes can be reduced which will help to raise an employer’s bottom line, provide a more efficient workplace, increase customer satisfaction, lower employee turnover, assure a measurable level of expertise, quality, and enhance their company’s public image.

ICM: What is the most valuable certification in ETA’s portfolio?

CB: That is a very hard question to answer. With over 80 certifications, no one certification is more valuable than another. It really depends on each individual’s needs. ETA International has certified the most technicians in the fiber optics field. However, we have experienced a high demand for renewable energy certifications over the past year. We have several individuals who, in an attempt to add credentials to their resume, take advantage of ETA’s rollover for the CompTIA certifications or other providers with equal-levels of recognition. ETA International is also one of only nine Commercial Radio Operator License Examination Managers (COLEM) for the FCC allowing it to administer all of the FCC commercial Radio License exams. Motorola also requires a certain percentage of their premier shops to hold the ETA Communication Site Installer (R56) certification as well as to become an ETA Certified Electronics Technician (CET). Finally, ETA’s Customer Service Specialist certification has become very popular among all industries. ETA has experienced a high volume of inquiries from schools seeking a certification that will prepare today’s youth to enter the workforce by validating their employability skills, as the CSS certification does.

ICM: Where should engineers train for ETA International certifications? What is your recommendation for all of them?

CB: ETA International keeps a list of approved training providers that is available to the public through the ETA website. The list is compromised of training providers from around the world and includes the areas of certification in which they are approved. ETA also lists the competencies for each certification on the website for public access. The competencies include a list of topics to be covered in the certification exam and suggested study materials when available. The ETA recommendation is that any individual wanting information on training or certification visit the ETA website. Also, speak to an ETA representative. ETA is an organization for technicians and our representatives are happy to help an individual reach their goals.

ICM: What would be the biggest mistake candidates make when preparing for the ETA certifications?

CB: I would say that the biggest mistake is not preparing enough, holding onto the assumption that the certification exam will be easy or not taking it seriously. ETA International certifications are developed by Subject Matter Experts in that particular field and are in-depth and rigorous.

ICM: Let’s talk about the future. Are there any plans for changes in the ETA certification system?

CB: ETA certifications are living documents. They are constantly updated and revised to keep up with the ever-changing and evolving industries that ETA serves. Change is happening every day, every minute at ETA. New certifications are frequently added to the list to meet industry demands. There are several in the works as we speak. A current project is to allow ETA certification holders to immediately be able to check their exam scores and view their certifications online.

ICM: What do you think in general about certifications? Should people concentrate on the single one (but hard to achieve) or many (but from many specializations).

CB: Certifications are very important. Many employers require certifications to obtain and/or keep a position. Certification proves to an employer that a technician is a professional and has taken steps to prove his/her knowledge and skills. Certifications are an excellent complement to a degree. They focus on a specific area proving expertise in that area. ETA International certifications are also stackable. For example, one may start with the basic Associate Certified Electronics Technician certification and then move on to a Journeyman certification such as Certified Network Computer Technician becoming further specialized in a specific area.

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Bonus:
You should check ETA Career Resource Center. Now it is a free service. Amazing service for Job Seekers and Employers who are looking for a good engineer, especially with IT certifications from ETA International.

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]