Want to Hire the Best Programmers? Here’s Why Experience Is Everything

This year’s Crestron Masters event brought together over 600 Crestron Certified programmers ranging from Silver to Diamond graduate levels, but Tim Albright argues that the value of a good programmer isn’t measured in levels, but rather in experience and knowledge.

Tim Albright

The Oxford English dictionary defines a master as someone who has dominance or control of something; a skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity; and a great artist.

These definitions would certainly reflect the talent and commitment gathered at Crestron’s Masters program this year. For four days this assembled brain trust of over 600 Crestron Certified programmers learned about Crestron‘s latest innovations, the pathway to create more complicated systems and how to hone their skills.

As with other industry events, it is also a great place to network and learn from one another. 

As someone who has spent a fair amount of time working in Crestron’s SIMPL Windows program trying to make a room come to life, it was a pretty intense experience. Here are people who have achieved a level of experience and recognition I could only dream of.

A number of years ago Crestron introduced its graduate levels of Masters—Silver, Gold, Platinum, and now Diamond.

To qualify for each successive level, you are required to attend three Masters programs and pass a programming test. This means someone who has Silver has attended three Masters, Gold has attended six, and those few Diamonds have attended twelve Masters programs, which would be almost all of them.

However, this latest distinction, the Diamond, has a new qualification. You have to teach a course to reach that level. Not only that, it has to be something outside your wheelhouse. This means that if you are primarily a commercial programmer you may have to teach on Crestron Pyng.

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As we were chatting with attendees, I found myself wondering if these levels really matter. Does getting Diamond make you a better programmer than a Silver? More importantly for those hiring the programmers, does it make them more valuable? Can you charge more for a Diamond level programmer than you can for a Silver certified Crestron programmer?

The short answer is no. As an integrator, your programming hourly rate is not going to fluctuate based on the various levels of certification that your programmers attain. This is not to say they are not more valuable the higher they achieve.

A Silver Certified programmer has attended Masters three times. This means, on average, they have been programming Crestron for about five years or more—understand that I am averaging here.

So, a Silver achieving Gold would indicate that that programmer has at least three more years of experience. Attending that many more Masters classes would be valuable to you, as the integrator, in that these programmers are getting better, faster, and more efficient.

Your line-item charge may not be going up, but the amount of productivity you are getting out of those programmers will rise as they get more experience and knowledge.

These designations are also a good professional development incentive. Who wouldn’t love to say “I am Diamond” in what they do? Whether you are an independent programming company or have a programming department in your integration firm, getting your team to expand, learn, and reach for these levels of certification would be worthwhile in both the money and time spent.

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