Home Technology Integration


Mar 06, 2006 Print Article

UPDATE: This topic is now available as a full Technology Forecast.

Home Technology Integration (HTI) is the convergence or merging of previously separate technologies and systems in the home, including integrated home control, computer/home network, communications, lighting and energy management, entertainment and security, health and safety. “Home technology integrators aren’t just IT professionals for the home; rather, they are consultants who understand both traditional installer disciplines like home construction as well as newer disciplines like data systems.”1

Home Technology Integrator Disciplines

Home technology integration technicians represent a merger of various skill sets and abilities. Rather than service specialists who possess skills in one particular area, HTI integrators must possess a broad depth of knowledge to design, install, configure and service a range of technologies. According to CompTIA, “The increasing complexity and interconnection between all these systems have created a need for a new kind of specialist, the home technology integrator.”2

Employability

Electronic systems technicians (EST) are projected to increase from 214,000 ESTs in 2003 to about 247,000 in 2012.3 Based on these projections, companies with 12 installers/technicians/system designers in 2003 will hire, on average, about 13 new or replacement workers through 2008.4 According to the Cisco Learning Institute (CLI), there are over 10,000 individuals annually that need to be trained to provide major HTI players with the technical expertise they need. CLI attributes this growth to:5

  • The increased availability of affordable high-speed Internet access to the home.
  • An increase in new home construction and the growing demand for homes that combine entertainment and comfort with the communication and productivity tools offered by most modern offices.
  • The ever-increasing number of telecommuters and home office workers.

While no single existing occupation title applies to HTI technicians, existing labor market information can be used to provide some insights into projected employment opportunities in this area. Table 1 lists 2002-2012 projections obtained from Tracer2 based on similar job titles where HTI skill sets are likely to apply. The larger number of system integrators is not accurately reflected in these numbers and it is probable the actual number of HTI related jobs are understated. The average growth rate of these similar jobs, however, is 17.62% with a total of 1,405 new jobs anticipated over this 10 year period.

Table 1 . Texas Employment Projections in Home Technology Integration-Related Occupations
Annual Average Employment Number Growth Annual Average Job Openings
2002 2012 Change Rate Growth Replacement Total
Audio & Video Equipment Technicians 4650 5700 1050 22.58 105 115 220
Electronic Home Entertainment Equipment Installers & Repairers 3050 3350 300 9.84 30 60 90
Security & Fire Alarm Systems Installers 3200 3850 650 20.31 65 60 125
Heating, Air Conditioning, & Refrigeration Mechanics & Installers 20250 26100 5850 28.89 585 270 855
Home Appliance Repairers 3850 4100 250 6.49 25 90 115
TOTALS 35000 43100 8100 17.62 810 595 1405

(Source: Texas Labor Market Information, Texas 2002-2012 Staffing Patterns)

Skill Sets

HTI skill sets cover a broad range of technologies including networking, audio/video, HVAC, home security, appliances and structural wiring. The CompTIA HTI+ exam covers the following key areas: computer networking fundamentals, audio/video fundamentals, home security and surveillance systems, telecommunication standards, home lighting control, HVAC management, water system controls, home access controls and miscellaneous automated home features.6

Trends

The home technology market has been slow to mature; however, increasing broadband penetration at the home and the growing popularity of home video, security, automated lighting, controls and smart appliances are all indicators of a growing home technology market. According to Research First, the home technology market had $15 billion in annual sales for 2000 and a 9% annual growth rate and includes 25,000 installing/integrating companies and 4,000 manufacturers.7

Whether or not products are integrated into an overall connected home, the home technology market in general is substantial with $15 billion in annual sales and a 9% annual growth.8

According to CompTIA

Despite a low penetration rate in the market and some ambivalence on the part of consumers, recent statistics do indicate a rising demand for connectivity in the home. Approximately 29% of new homes are built with structured wiring, which provides the internal backbone for these technologies. One source calls home automation “the number one up-sell” in current home construction.9

An aging U.S. population may also spur an increase in home technology integration by enabling seniors to stay home longer through assisted living technologies. According to Intel researchers, “These digital home technologies have the potential to improve public health and significantly lower the U.S. healthcare bill while enabling seniors to “age in place,” maintaining their independence and deferring more costly institutional care as long as possible.”10

In 2004, the Internet Home Alliance created the Home Integrator Initiative to advance the market for digital home products and services even further. Members of the initiative include key industry influencers such as Cisco, Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), CompUSA, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA), Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), Electronics Systems Industry Consortium (ESIC), Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and several others including Pikes Peak Community College.

Timing

Preliminary analysis suggests a sufficient need for technicians today and available market data projections indicate an increasing interest in technicians with HTI skill sets. During the course of this research, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a new HTI certificate from Texas State Technical College Waco.

Home builders have been reluctant to pay the extra expense of installing structural wiring during new home construction, but this may change if growing consumer demand becomes a factor in purchase designs and, therefore, a competitive disadvantage for hesitant builders.

According to the Internet Home Alliance, “the lack of support for training and certification has hindered the development of a sizeable and reliable channel and by extension, the connected home market.”11 While the authors tend to question this logic, this should be less of a barrier thanks to standardized industry certification such as CompTIA’s HTI+. This certification provides an industry approved set of skills that has been endorsed by a number of key HIT companies including Best Buy, Bradford Learning, CABA, CompUSA, Cisco Learning Institute, Cisco Systems, Inc., D&H Distributing, Fluke Networks, Gateway, Graymark Int’l, Healthkit Educational Systems, Home Directory, Honeywell International, Internal Home Alliance, Marcraft, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sears Roebuck & Co. and Whirlpool.

Relevance

Community and technical colleges are ideally suited to offer home technology integration training and several programs exist throughout the nation. Colleges with existing computer maintenance, computer hardware systems, networking & systems administration and telecommunications programs are well positioned to extend an HTI offering. Curriculum should be structured around local industry advisory committee recommendations and the industry approved CompTIA HTI+ certification. Students should be expected to complete this important certification upon graduation. TSTC Waco’s one-year certificate will provide a useful model for other Texas colleges interested in offering this curriculum.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Recommendation: This topic is recommended for detailed analysis. Industry projections, technology and market trends and a lack of available training may require additional curriculum development.
  • Jobs: Industry projections suggest a high probability of employment growth.
  • Trends: Trends suggest increasingly connected homes, growing demand for technology enhanced new homes, telecommuting and assisted living technologies may drive HTI demand.
  • Timing: Industry data suggests near-term demand.
  • Relevance: CTC curriculum is relevant to this workforce demand and a 40-hour credit HTI certification has recently been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • Transportability: Skill sets are applicable across a number of fields including electricians, HVAC, audio/video installers, security companies, Internet service providers and consumer electronics retailers.
  1. Internet Home Alliance, Net Gain: Advancing the Market for Home Technology Integrators, 2004
  2. CompTIA Fact Sheet
  3. Electronic Systems Industry Consortium, 2004
  4. Internet Home Alliance, Net Gain: Advancing the Market for Home Technology Integrators, 2004, p. 10
  5. Cisco Learning Institute
  6. Dulaney, editor Certification Magazine, posted on TechRepublic
  7. “Research First,” Internet Home Alliance Advantage, p. 26
  8. Home Technology Integrator (HTI+)”, unpublished presentation, CompTIA
  9. TecHome Builder, August/September 2001
  10. Intel, Health Research & Innovation, Digital home technologies for aging in place, www.intel.com/research/exploratory/digital_home.htm
  11. Internet Home Alliance, Net Gain: Advancing the Market for Home Technology Integrators, 2004, p. 9
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