How to become CCTV Engineer

What do you need to know to become a CCTV Security Engineer?

Old days it was a very difficult task to enter the field of CCTV, Intruder Alarms, or Fire Alarms as there was no widely available and easy to access knowledge online. One had to become an apprentice, go through expensive courses, and spend years learning. That has fortunately changed over the recent years. It has never been easier to enter the Security Engineer Profession (CCTV, Fire, Intruder & Access).

There is one thing that has not changed. It is the fact that a Security Engineer (CCTV, Intruder, Fire, Access) is still one of the best paid technical professions out there (outranked mostly by some people from IT and programmers). A good security engineer can make 50k(£/€/$) per year or even better.

Can you learn the CCTV Engineer profession from YouTube CCTV tutorials?

There are countless videos available on YouTube that can explain to you a lot of subjects. The problem is that you will spend a few times more time just searching for something (not knowing what you need and what you will get from watching – been there myself!) than you will spend learning from a made by a pro, tailored for a CCTV security engineer course. When searching YouTube CCTV tutorials (intruder alarm tutorials or fire alarm tutorials) you will never know if you have already learned all that you need. In addition to that a lot of tutorials are simply product overviews so they will teach you very little.

Another problem with YouTube CCTV tutorials (as with in-person training) is that many of them are made by the people from the outside of the industry (they are not active security engineers and probably never were), so they do not know what you really need to know (from a practical point of view) to get started, even if they have some sort of understanding of the subject.

So, in short you can use YouTube as an additional source but not as your main knowledge base to learn a CCTV Engineer or Fire Engineer profession.

Can you learn CCTV Engineer profession during an in-person training?

There are in-person courses in most countries but those usually are very expensive (i.e. LENEL training costs 10k+) and time-consuming (in-person = during the working week). Unfortunately even those do not guarantee that you will learn what you need as they tend to use old equipment (a lot of them use old analogue cameras and DVRs instead of HD and IP). Another problem with those courses is that they fill time with fluff to expand the hours instead of getting straight to the point. Another type of in-person training is a producer specific training. Some of them are ok (i.e. LENEL) and you will learn important functions of the equipment but many of them are designed to teach you equipment so you can sell it, not to teach you configuration and setup.

In general, if you pick the right course you can learn a lot from an in-person training but it is very costly and time-consuming. You are not only paying for a course but also losing money because you are not working.

So what is the best way to become a CCTV Security Engineer?

I would use a mix of resources in the following manner:

  1.  get enrolled in a comprehensive online course (inexpensive and can be used when you have time),
  2.  drill down on certain subjects by searching YouTube and the Internet (you will already have some understanding of the subject by then from the online course),
  3. get product specific training when required – this may be especially important for Intruder Alarm panels and Access Control Systems,
  4. start working in the industry as nothing can replace real hands-on experience.

A Security Engineer has transformed over the years from “an electrician” to “an IT specialist”. Most of the current security systems (CCTV and others) got heavily involved in the IP Networks. It is especially true in the CCTV field. Some CCTV systems are done solely over IP networks without any coaxial cables. Hence, nowadays you also need to have some understanding of IP Networks.

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