TCA To Unveil Agent Certification

The Technology Channel Association (TCA), a nonprofit organization for the indirect sales channel, announced Thursday that it will introduce at the end of September a Certified Telecommunications Professional (CTP) program designed for telecom agents.

According to TCA, the CTP program will reinforce telecom industry standards, technical concepts and business practices in an effort to verify that telecom agents have a solid understanding of industry fundamentals and how they apply to end users and carriers. Certification is hoped to provide agents with credentials and vendors with assurance that they are working with reputable agents.

Certification was a stated goal of the TCA when it formed in summer 2008. The association began working on the program in January, according to TCAs Certification Committee lead Ben Henkels, principal of Communication Management Partners.

Henkels said the final details on the program would be disclosed in September, but he offered a sneak peak. TCA has been working with Swoyer Technologies to put together the program, he said. Sawyer Technologies will administer the test and provide reporting to the association.

Exam applicants must be members of TCA. The association is waiving membership dues normally $500 — for agents who are interested in taking the exam.

There will be a fee to take the exam, Henkels said, noting the price is not set, but will be less than $300. The exam itself will have around 100 questions and a score of 75 percent will be considered passing, he said.  Agents will receive a certificate and a CTP logo upon passing.

Preparation materials will be available electronically to prospective applicants, Henkels said. He added that the test will not be open to all comers. Prerequisites to take the test will include measures of industry experience and education, which have not been finalized, he said. Those credentials will be verified before an agent can take the exam.

Gaining momentum around a new certification can be difficult, but Henkels said TCAs goal has been to raise the bar on professionalism in the industry, and adding measurements is the best place to start. Initially, he said, TCA hopes agents will view CTP as a way to set themselves apart. In the long term, he said, the goal is for carriers/vendors to recognize that CTP is something they can endorse, creating defacto standard for their own programs.” Already, Henkels said, the TCA Vendor Members are interested in a mechanism to know that prospective partners are experienced.

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