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How to get smart?

744 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Curt Palme
Alright, I know this could either help me or lead to a thrashing and a post that tells me to go to some other forum but heres a try! I know we have a bunch of installers here and a bunch of audio brains, so let me ask you guys. What is the best route for schooling for somebody who is 19 (me) and wants to become a professional installer or retailer of high end audio/visual products? Is it college electronics courses, or something else? If you guys could please help me I would much appreciate it! Thanks, Mike
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If they can teach common sense at that college take that course. This is the most desired quality I look for in my techs.

Look into getting a part time job with an integrator. Nothing like on the job training.

And read every trade mag out there to get a feel for the latest technology.

Good Luck!

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I would say to hang out around here and go to college in Electronics. it will allow you to choose the classes/courses you need toward this end. i do not know honestly any college offering HT specific classes in the USA, this is different in Europe it seems. Read as many post as you can ask all the questions you want, you will be surprised by the amount of knowledge on the AVS Forum. There is really a low level of BS as it is quickly spotted and washed out...

keep on reading and ask question go to school get yourself a degree... I would suggest EE with a few classes in management and Finances... along the way.

Good luck

P.S. Studiocats advise is very good, I had not read it while typing this..

On the job training help you put in perspective the theory and allow a deeper understanding.
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I am your age, and I advise you to stick around here. The amount of knowledge here is insane, you could probably find the best most high-end tech store around, and you would still know some things from here that they wouldn't.
I'm with Frantz... nothing can substitute for an education on the basics. You can't really ever know what you're talking about unless you know the basics of electricity, physics, electromagnetics, basic digital, semiconductors, etc... at least get a 2 year degree.

Any installer or tech with less knowledge than that offered by a 2 to 4 year degree is going to forever be clueless about the very stuff they are installing. That might be ok for pulling wire, but not for much else.

Of course this is going to be lots of hard work... many do not have the patience or drive to get to the end.
I took 2 years of technical school (a technologist diploma), and then went right back to repairing consumer TV's like I was in high school at the local TV shop. That was in 1981.

Then in 1985 the bottom dropped out of the consumer TV market due to RCA, and I got employed by a night club installation company. There's nothing like a raging hormonal 24 year old that was sent to a strip club to (ahem) 'tune' up the sound system again, and again, and again... but I digress..:)

When Zenith came out with the first CRT projectro in 1985, I took my TV knowledge to task, and started selling, installing and repairing these sets. I sold about 60 a year, and serviced the ones that the competition sold but couldn't service.

Then when the company went under in 1988, I started out on my own... but enough about me...

If it's strictly installations that you're going after, forget the schooling and get right into being an apprentice at a high end A/V company. There's more of a physical art in installing an inwall speaker that isn't cockeyed than being an electronics wiz.

And frankly, a lot of the sales stuff isn't based on electronics, but on hocus pocus, and a seamless sales pitch (sorry guys, but it's the truth!)

Where the electronics knowledge and theory is mandatory is in service work. I've seen a bunch of installers install an entire sound system, but they can't repair it when something fails after they install it.

Problem is, unless you find a niche like me that can do board level repairs on CRT projectors, there's no money in service, trust me. For the most part, you pull out a bad component and sell the customer a new one.

I've got an ad running for an installer right now in the local papers. I'll probably get someone like an alarm tech that is unemployed and has good installation and customer service skills over someone that's a geek like me. Decent alarm guys have the skills to fish wires like nobody's business, and can doa neat job of it.

Sure, there's lots of facets that I haven't covered, like the programming, say of a Crestron or AMX unit, that's a whole 'nother ball park. And good programmers are worth their weight in gold....

Just my $.02.

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you can also try the custom installer lounge at remote central
Thanks guys, keep it coming, I'm loving all the feedback!
Car Audio!

I have been in this business since "77". The very best installers that I have worked with came from a 12 volt background. As a rule they have a better understanding of good grounding, use of relays, basic electrical theory and the desire and ability to do the unusual.

If you can find a local dealer that does both Car & Home, go to work a wire pulling wages, learn all that you can about networking and IP protocols. When you get the chance volunteer for every job that comes up. It will pay off
IMO, the interface between HTs and computers will get closer and closer. Strong computer skills (usage and some programming) will be helpful in the next generation of home theaters. The other end is the physical installation (running electric circuits, building shelves, installing in-walls, etc.). Of course you also have HT design (acoustician, interior designer, etc.)
I agree with Greg, however....

many of the companies that supply software driven pieces of hardware require either a factory training course before you can touch the stuff (Crown, Peavey), or is so darn simple to use that you can virtually do a plug and play.

So don't get caught up doing a bunch of computer courses, we get resumes all the time from guys that are computer geeks, but have no idea of resistor color codes, speaker impedance, or even which way to turn a screwdriver.

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