Developing certification programs specifically to enhance the electronic security and life safety industry is a never-ending journey, beginning with the initial creation of content and system of delivery. State-level approval is then sought out and as more elements about a topic are discovered, amendments are made to each course as needed to ensure the most up-to-date, relevant content is presented in the best way for students to adsorb the information and put it to use in their careers.
Such is the case with ESA National Training School’s (NTS) 22-hour Certified Alarm Technician (CAT) Level I, sometimes referred to as the Alarm Level 1 course, which provides essential knowledge and skills for intrusion detection, fire detection, video surveillance and access control, with the content presented in English and Spanish.
“We are approved in all states that have a Certified Alarm Technician Level I training requirement,” says Michelle Yungblut, chief knowledge officer at ESA. “At this point, the only states where ESA is not approved are those that have extensive apprenticeship training requirements that align with electrical training — however, Massachusetts and Michigan are two states that we are currently taking time to explore requirements.” This would position ESA’s CAT Level I training to be state approved in 20 states across the nation.
Massive competition exists between CAT Level I training providers, but choosing the most robust training program that empowers students with the precise knowledge, skills and support to be successful in the electronic security industry is crucial. ESA’s CAT Level I training is the most recognized throughout the U.S. and enables companies to get licensed in multiple states — currently in 18.
“Our training has been designed as a building block structure so that installation technicians can use it to begin their journey into growing their skills,” Yungblut explains. “Once a technician is certified in CAT I, they can then pursue any of our other certifications to help them move into more skilled positions and attain additional license qualifications.”
Passionate Teaching Leads to Passionate Security
ESA’s training is built and supported by almost 100 subject matter experts from around the country, allowing it to continuously evolve and highlight the latest best practices and specifications. Specific to ESA’s CAT Level I training, its National Training School Instructors are of the highest, most respected echelon in the industry — who serve alongside students teaching, mentoring, coaching and inspiring.
“I have been blessed to be involved with ESA’s National Training School on a national level for a long time and from all over the world, the majority of ESA’s instructors are the very best in the industry,” LJ Lynes, national certification training manager, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. and fellow ESA National Training School instructor, expresses. “Their knowledge, dedication and experiences they share while teaching makes one of the best courses you could ever have in our field.”
ESA instructors realize that everyone must start somewhere and remember the exact moment they became instructors, signifying their passion for the industry as well as teaching.
“I was the install manager at Central Control Alarm in 1986 when the then called National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA – ESA’s previous name) released the Level I training, so I took it and was certified in 1987,” reminisces Don McInnes, physical security and fire alarm systems specialist, ESA Instructor and Education Committee member. “I really liked the training program, saw the value in it and that same year, I became certified as an instructor after passing the instructor exam and teaching two classes for our state association, Western Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA).”
Dan Cantrell, director technical training and development at ADT and ESA Instructor also took the Level I course in the late 1980s.
“I was so impressed with the instructor and the class that I wanted to give back to an industry that gave so much to me,” he says.
Lynes relied on the power of mentorship to become an industry professional, and later an instructor.
“My mentor Cecil Hogan told me there was a great need to raise the professionalism and standards for our industry,” Lynes says. “He believed I had the ability to relay information in a way that could help the association, and ultimately our industry. Once I saw the benefits of teaching others, I realized it was something that I was going to do.”
Cantrell, Lynes and McInnes together bring over 70 years of industry experience into their classrooms, but for all three, it is the camaraderie between all NTS instructors and helping students that fuels their passion for industry training.
McInnes focuses on “the honor and privilege of meeting hundreds of students and all my fellow instructors over the 33 plus years I have been teaching,” while Cantrell and Lynes discuss “light bulb moments” they witness from students.
“Good instructors get addicted to light bulbs,” Lynes says. “When you are speaking to someone and they suddenly understand or have that moment when something makes sense to them — you can see it in their expressions. It’s like a light bulb going off above their heads.”
Cantrell also relishes in “seeing the expression on the face of a student when they don’t know something, and they finally get it.”
Talk about defining one of the many meanings behind one of ESA’s most popular hashtags: #passionatesecurity!
Dishing about the CAT I Course, the Industry Standard
The superiority of ESA’s Certified Alarm Technician Level I training is reflected in the fact that ESA was the first to bring the course to the industry; therefore, setting the industry standard for curriculum presented.
“It’s the original,” McInnes says about the training. “Plus, as an instructor who contributed to many courses, and still do, I know it’s the best. I know many of the industry people who were behind creating, contributing to, and updating this course. I even taught the first editions, moving into the most current versions and experiencing its evolution to becoming the industry standard and most recognized [training.]”
Cantrell emphasizes the robust knowledge behind the curriculum presented to students.
“The course was written and has been and continues to be instructed by subject matter experts, with real hands-on experience,” he comments. “Additionally, the content is updated on a regular basis to keep current with a rapidly changing industry.”
For those looking to enter the electronic security and life safety industry, this is a must-have training to deliver learned skills and knowledge to an ever-changing industry.
“CAT Level I is a great baseline to start in this industry,” says Lynes, who has been teaching this course for over 20 years. Cantrell concurs, citing this course as “a great start to a lifetime career that will give students a real-world perspective on the industry and their role within it.”
Not only is the course content the most robust on the market, but this course has literally been taught around the world!
“I have taught it to many organizations, including 10 years with the U.S. Secret Service Technical Security Division; Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; DHS; U.S. Military; and 2012 to U.S. Marine EOD personnel at Camp Hansen Okinawa Japan as part of specialized training through FVTC,” McInnes says.
As part of ESA’s CAT Level I training, each student is surveyed for feedback to ensure quality is achieved. Some of the comments received include:
- “Every technician should be required to take this course.”
- “Very knowledgeable instructor.”
- “Great instructor! Very confident now after the course.”
- “Course was very knowledgeable and informative.”
- “An excellent resource in this industry.”
When training with ESA’s National Training School, the monetary investment doesn’t pad the pocketbooks of upper-level executives — it’s used to support the industry in which student are now a part of.
“Being a part of the association that has been supporting the electronic and life safety industry for the last 70 years means that any of the revenue generated from the training program goes right back into supporting the industry,” Yungblut says.
Certified Alarm Technician Level 1 – Online
This course is the industry standard for electronic security and life safety technicians. Check the list below to see if your state approves this course for the license you seek.
Click here to view the 2021 NTS course catalog.