We hear all kinds of terms used to describe people who design building technology systems, including engineer, designer, technologist, and integrator. What’s the difference?
There are two aspects to designing low-voltage systems for buildings: the theoretical and the applied. In general, integrators and technologists are oriented toward application, whereas engineers and designers are geared toward the conceptual. To put it another way, engineers and designers design the systems, while technologists and integrators make the systems work in the field.
The use of the term “engineer” as part of a title varies from state to state, as established by each state’s licensing board. Earning the “Professional Engineer” designation involves obtaining a four-year college degree, working under a Professional Engineer for a period of time, passing intensive competency exams and earning a Professional Engineering (PE) license. In some states, PEs must continually maintain and improve their skills throughout their careers in order to retain their license.
Most states require project architectural drawings to be stamped by a licensed engineer. If a person is qualified to do design work but is not licensed, he or she is often called a designer. Designers can work on drawings but cannot stamp them. By stamping a document an engineer is asserting that the design is code compliant, meets a level of design quality, and is buildable.
Baccalaureate engineering technology graduates are often called “technologists” to distinguish them from baccalaureate graduates of engineering programs. However, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a category called “technologist” and consequently industrial job titles show little distinction between technologists and designers.
A technology “integrator” is a person or company that specializes in bringing together component subsystems into a whole and ensuring that those subsystems function together. Engineers and designers design the systems; systems integration firms install and calibrate the systems.
What do all those letters behind some of our staff’s names mean? Here’s the breakdown:
CDT: The Construction Documents Technologist (CDT), administered by the Construction Specifications Institute, provides a comprehensive overview for anyone who writes, interprets, enforces, or manages construction documents.
CPP: The Certified Protection Professional (CPP) credential provides demonstrable proof of knowledge and management skills in seven key domains of physical security. It is administered by ASIS International.
CTS: A Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) has demonstrated technical knowledge of audiovisual systems design and operation through testing administered by InfoComm International®. There are three CTS designations: CTS, CTS-D (Design), and CTS-I (Installation).
DMC-D: Crestron DigitalMedia™ certification is accredited by InfoComm and CEDIA, and denotes understanding of the fundamental differences between analog and digital systems and the unique design considerations needed to ensure reliable operation.
EIT: Engineer-in-Training. EIT is a designation from a state engineering board. The EIT designation indicates a person has passed the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination. The EIT is a step on the path toward Professional Engineer (PE) licensure.
LEED AP: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) is accredited by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). It demonstrates the holder’s technical knowledge of sustainable design and the LEED building rating system.
NTS: The Network Technology (NTS) Design credential is maintained by BICSI, the worldwide association for cabling design and installation professionals. New credentialing under this program was sunsetted in 2013.
PE: Professional Engineer (PE). Only licensed Professional Engineers may use this designation. To earn a license from a state’s licensing board, aspiring engineers must complete all of the following steps:
- Complete a four-year college degree from an ABET-accredited college;
- Work under a Professional Engineer (PE) for a state-proscribed period of time;
- Pass the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, the NCEES Professional Engineering (PE) examination, and a state’s ethics and rules exam.
To retain their licenses in some states, PEs must take a certain number of accredited courses to maintain and improve their skills each year.
PMP: The Project Management Institute administers the Project Management Professional credential. To earn it, applicants must pass a rigorous test demonstrating their expertise in project management.
RCDD: Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), a BICSI credential, demonstrates the ability to design, integrate, and implement information and communications technology and related infrastructure components across multiple disciplines and applications.
RTPM: The BICSI-administered Registered Telecommunications Project Manager (RTPM) credential demonstrates knowledge in project management concepts and tools in the information and communications systems industry.
XTP-E: Used to designate expertise in the design and implementation of Extron XTP audiovisual systems.