Why the RFID Industry Needs a Certification Program

By Mark Roberti

A robust program that could replace CompTIA's RFID+ courses is important, because it would help the industry to develop the human resources necessary to deploy RFID systems on a grand scale.

Approximately five years ago, IT industry certification body CompTIA gathered a group of subject-matter experts to create a certification program for the radio frequency identification industry. RFID Journal supported that effort, resulting in CompTIA's RFID+ certification test (see RFID Journal Launches Online Training for CompTIA RFID+ Certification).

Unfortunately, CompTIA decided to retire the program in December 2011, due to low numbers of people signing up for certification. This left the industry without a credible method for ascertaining whether those hired possess basic knowledge of RFID systems. So I called a meeting of some of the leading training companies, solutions providers and end users following RFID Journal LIVE! 2012—our 10th annual conference and exhibition, held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.—to determine if the industry could come together to create a new program.




I'm pleased to report that we received a strong response. Three of the leading training organizations—Academia RFID, OTA Training and RFID4U—attended the meeting, as did representatives from several solutions providers and a few consultants involved with training. We have since begun working to create an independent, nonprofit association to support a new industry-wide certification program, as well as testing requirements.

Our goal is to create a foundational certification test that would replace CompTIA's RFID+ program. Unlike the CompTIA testing, however, this program will include an option enabling a person to renew certification, in order to show that he or she is up to date regarding changes in RFID technologies and products. In addition, the plan is to build on top of the existing foundational layer, so that there would be other, more advanced certification tests. What exactly those would entail has yet to be determined, but there might be certifications for proficiency in using specific hardware products, active RFID systems, software and so forth.

I consider a robust certification program to be essential. At present, there are a limited number of skilled RFID professionals. I have been in the industry for 10 years, and have seen the same individuals move from one company to another; that's because there are not a lot of RFID experts for vendors to hire. We need to create more experts, and training is the key to accomplishing that goal. Certifying those who have been trained allows potential employers to know that a candidate has met a certain threshold of knowledge and skill.

CompTIA thought that early RFID mandates would drive the demand for skilled RFID professionals. That didn't occur—but now the industry is finally seeing large-scale deployments in retail, manufacturing and other areas. If we fail to develop the human resources necessary to support more large-scale deployments, RFID adoption will suffer. I will keep you up to date about these efforts, as they are vital to everyone who sells, uses or plans to deploy RFID technology.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.