Audiovisual solution providers have increased hiring of professionals with IT skills to address broader client requirements and handle technologies based on network architectures, according to the 2018 META: Pro AV Channel Employment Report produced by AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. The research is the latest in AVIXA's series of Macro-Economic Trends Analysis (META) reports.
Based on analysis of five years' worth of hiring data, as well as occupation codes defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most sought-after workers by AV integrators are audio and video equipment technicians and computer user support specialists. From 2015 to 2017 the number of computer user support specialist job openings at AV integrators tripled.
According to AVIXA's analysis, other IT-related jobs in demand by AV integrators, although not at the same level of computer user support specialists, include computer programmers, IT project managers, and network and computer systems administrators.
"The growing prevalence of IT occupations at AV firms demonstrates that integration companies are expanding their capabilities and further blurring the lines between AV and IT," said Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence, AVIXA. "It's getting harder to say a company is absolutely an AV or an IT integration firm. By some measures, nearly one-third of the open technology positions at AV integration firms are IT-related."
The 2018 META: Pro AV Channel Employment Report represents an expansion of prior years' Compensation and Benefits Reports and now covers a wider set of employment issues at AV integration firms. AVIXA researchers began the 2018 study by identifying 50 of the top pro AV integration firms and used that reference list to analyze job data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Emsi (a labor market analytics firm). In addition, AVIXA conducted a survey of AV integrators to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of compensation and benefits at their firms.
From 2012 to 2017, audio and video equipment technicians (in 2018, changed to audio and video technicians), as defined by the BLS, were the largest, single group of workers sought by AV integrators, representing 21 percent of job openings in 2017. Computer user support specialists, as defined by the BLS, represented 12 percent of job openings at AV integration firms in 2017. Employers categorize their employees using BLS codes and job descriptions. Taken together, the two job categories made up roughly one-third of all posted job openings at AV integration firms from 2012 to 2017.
In analyzing all job openings at AV integration firms, those characterized as IT-related currently outnumber those related to sales.
"The surge in IT occupations in the AV channel reflects adoption of in-demand products and solutions," Wargo said. "According to our Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis report, streaming media, storage, and distribution platforms generated $17 billion in revenue in 2016 and now account for nearly 30 percent of the North American pro-AV market. This solution set includes substantial amounts of pro-AV-specific IT equipment, in the form of media servers and systems that run specialist AV software but are, at their heart, standard IT hardware."
Overall, across all employer types, not just AV integrators, the number of audio and video equipment technicians in the U.S. workforce, as defined by the BLS, has grown 34 percent from 2012 to 2017. The total number of computer user support specialists across all employer types has increased 17 percent.
The BLS also gathers salary information. Across all types of employers, the median 2017 salary for audio and video equipment technicians was $42,190; the median salary for computer user support specialists was $50,210.
According to data from the report's compensation and benefits survey of AV integration firms, as opposed to data from the BLS and Emsi, the median compensation for non-specialized technicians (install technician I), is in-line with BLS/Emsi data, at $40,000. Install technician I compensation has risen at an annualized rate of 1.3 percent since 2008.
Based on direct feedback from AV firms, the 2018 META: Pro AV Channel Employment Report tracks total compensation for 37 specific positions, including install technician I, II, and III; engineering manager; project manager; director of sales; and CEO. According to the data, across all senior management positions, total compensation continues to rise at an annualized rate of approximately 2.5 percent. Engineering manager and project manager job titles saw strong, nearly 4 percent annualized gains over the past 10 years.