Why Most Integrators Use the Same Techs for Video and Access

By Brian Rhodes, Published Aug 12, 2014, 12:00am EDT

With so many differences between video surveillance and access control designs, how commonly do integrators train and employ technicians specially skilled in one area? Is the most common approach to develop technicans that can do anything, or is it smarter to avoid training techs to be 'jacks-of-all trades, masters of none'?

We asked over 80 integrators "Do You Use Different Technicians for Access Control than for Video Surveillance work?"  In this note, we break down their answers and color commentary.

Key Breakdown

When it comes to technicians, most integrators use the same employees to install and service both video surveillance and access control. Almost 3/4 of all integrators reported this is the case:

Most Cross Train Technicians

Most integrators train installers to competently work on both video and access, citing the benefits of assigning one technician to do either task. The majority of comments stated this flexibility is critical to operations:

  • "Our technicians are trained to do both. We are not large enough to specialize employees to that extent. Our technicians must be flexible enough to service both systems."
  • "All our techs do both. Some are more adept with one versus the other, but can do either. Eliminates need for multiple techs on one job that has both systems."
  • "Our techs are all qualified to work on all products. This allows us to schedule any tech on any job."
  • "It seems that we have been able to cross train and that the quality of the work is excellent. We have been able to bring in a "door" guy that actually has helped us to expand into the door and storefront business and have cross trained him for Video and Access."
  • "All of our techs are well versed in CCTV as well as access control. This allows for quicker installation times and easier integration between the two when the occasion arises."

Small Size is a Factor

While flexibility was cited as the key driver for combining skills, the small size of most integrators force the point. Many comments plainly stated that in order to get work done quickly and affordably for smaller firms, techs need to be multi-skilled:

  • "No, we don't run a large enough install department to need dedicated techs."
  • "We aren't big enough to just have Access techs and video techs, but if we were, we still wouldn't restrict it that way. Get good at something but learn as much as you can on as many things as possible."
  • "We are a small company, so if we want to keep everyone working, they have to be skilled at everything."

The Case for Separate Installers

However, the flip side generally cited the increased complexity of access as the prime reason to use separate techs. The purely mechanical skillsets and craft experience access control requires lends itself to a different type of tech than those specialized in hanging cameras and optimizing NVRs:

  • "In general our access techs can work on video, but video techs cant really work on access..."
  • "Lock hardware personnel know doors. Also locksmiths should not normally be doing video especially IP based."
  • "We use the same techs for wiring both but for configuration we have a few that have training in access control so they do the final configuration and commissioning."
  • "We use different techs for the fieldwork required with access control because it requires more mechanical ability then installing a camera."
  • "Access control requires a more diverse skill set, so access control is best entrusted to more senior technicians. We start younger techs out on video, and get them exposure to access over time."

Case-by-Case Evaluations

While multi-skilled technicians are preferred, they are not easy to find and develop. While the ultimate goal is to have technicians generally capable of any task, the reality is that work is often planned according to the individual strengths of workers on the job. 

  • "It takes talent to be able to do both area well. When we hire those people, we encourage them to be great in either so they can be assigned anywhere."
  • "Everyone has different abilities, some are more self-sufficient than others."
  • "Yes and No - depends on the techs - we have several that are competent with both but a few only work on one or the other."
  • "For field install, no. If it gets into programming & training, then some are better than others."
  • "All techs know a little about all areas, but they have their expertise in certain areas."
  • "If they show promise, they can work in both. We do not hold them back."
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