The IT consortium is developing an exam to gauge IT workers' skills with RFID hardware.
IT trade association CompTIA, or the Computing Technology Industry Association, is taking on RFID. The nonprofit consortium on Oct. 31 will release the beta version of its first RFID exam, aimed at IT professionals looking for a baseline certification.
CompTIAs certification is geared toward IT workers with between six and 24 months of experience working with RFID technology. The exam covers the hardware aspects of RFID technology, from radio physics in passive and active tagging to device support from the software perspective.
It stops short, however, of covering RFID middleware or application technology, according to David Sommer, vice president of Electronic Commerce at CompTIA in Chicago, who is overseeing the certification initiative.
"A middleware and applications certification is still to be determined," Sommer said. "Theres been talk of it, and we may at some point do that, but its up to the companies involved to really push that."
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There are 20 vendors working to create the RFID certification beta test, from Symbol Technologies Inc. and Intermec Technologies Corp. to Texas Instruments Inc. and IBM.
Sommer said CompTIAs overall objective is to take the cost out of the process of having a trained and educated workforce, by enabling a community that is ready to support RFID technology.
The mission of the RFID Skills Certification Initiative, as its referred to on CompTIAs Web site, is to develop a vendor-neutral certification that validates skills relating to RFID installation, maintenance, repair and upkeep of hardware and software.
"Whats really been happening here is that solution providers, resellers and system integrators have all had to go to the same foundation-level training again and again, from various vendors," Sommer said.
"What were doing is basically setting up baselines, so that people that are in [RFID] technology can prove their skills and not have to go over that foundation-level knowledge again and again, in order to work with a specific vendors technology."
CompTIA began the certification development process earlier this year; in the first quarter it formed a committee to focus on exam requirements.
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After the Halloween release of the beta exam, the RFID Skills Certification committee will analyze the results of the test and cull questions accordingly, dropping those that are too easy or too difficult. The final exam will be launched early next year.
Despite any initial changes to the test, those who do take the beta exam will be certified, according to Sommer.
In terms of the certification becoming globally recognized, Sommer said he believes CompTIAs initiative has a pretty good shot. It counts among its members more than 20,000 IT companies in 70 countries.
The 20 companies involved in creating the beta will recognize the certification. Those companies are working within their channel programs to have the credential recognized, and CompTIA is also working with academic communities like Purdue University to have the exam recognized and trained for.
In addition, CompTIA is targeting community colleges with technical programs as well as continuing education programs for certification recognition.
RFID being a nascent technology, Sommer said he expects the first release of the exam to be revised in about a year to 18 months.
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