CompTIA prepares to test for RFID expertise

The Computing Technology Industry Association Wednesday said it is offering a certification exam to help building expertise around emerging radio-frequency identification technology.

The exam will focus on various issues associated with maintenance and deployment of RFID, including troubleshooting, tag knowledge, design selection, site analysis, RF physics, and peripherals.

CompTIA was approached by RFID vendors about a year ago to provide a certification exam in anticipation of the number of expected RFID rollouts in the coming years, said David Sommer, vice-president of electronic commerce, for Chicago-based CompTIA.

Together with subject matter experts from firms like Intermec Technologies, ScanSource and Texas Instruments, CompTIA came up with questions that formed the core of the examination. A beta version is currently available and a final version is expected for March.

The exam will be proctored by companies like VUE and Prometric, which operate testing facilities across the globe, including Canada.

Sommer said the questions will be targeted towards individuals with six to 24 months of experience installing and maintaining RFID solutions. He added that anyone who passes the beta version of the test will be awarded the certification and won’t be required to retake the test when the final version is released.

The test will be updated in a year or so, or as needs dictate, said Sommer. The test is currently written to reflect the latest standard in RFID tags, Gen 2. It will also include information from GS1, but is not currently being endorsed by that the global standards body.

GS1 Canada president Art Smith was not immediately available for comment but said in an e-mail, “We’re pleased that an organization such as CompTIA is providing education on RFID which will help clarify the misrepresentation of what RFID can and can’t do in the marketplace. GS1 subscribers are in the process of spending many millions of dollars to respond to industry pilots and mandates, and part of our responsibility is to provide them with neutral and accurate information.”

Smith added that GS1 will provide education and certification for RFID at a future date. GS1 Canada is one of the partners in a Canadian RFID centre operated by IBM Canada, which opened earlier this year and is designed as an industry showcase for the technology.

Toronto-based retail technology consultant Marty McGuiness said that companies that are considering their own RFID deployments will be looking to organizations like GS1 for guidance. McGuiness said that he hasn’t seen much of a need for an officially-sanctioned certification yet, but “there’s a need for education. Lots of people are jockeying for that.”

McGuiness added that there is a shortage of people with real-world experience of RFID deployments. “They’re not looking to hire consulting expertise that leaves and takes the knowledge with them. They’re looking for people who are on the ground. You really want somebody with in-the-trench knowledge,” he said.

A lot of companies are still in the evaluative stage when it comes to RFID, he said, making hands-on experience a precious commodity.

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