When you're working in communications, having a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) credential provides you with a great way to get a leg up on the competition. Developed by the Building Industry Consulting Service International (BISCI), the designation provides proof that you have a particular level of knowledge, experience and skill in communication system design.
It's also becoming much more common on larger and government jobs to require that someone in your company who is working on that project have a RCDD designation before your bid will be accepted. But how do you get through the certification process and the exam that is required to receive the RCDD certification? We're glad you asked . . .
How to Prepare for the RCDD Exam
Structured Exam Courses
Structured courses provide you with a specific focus on what you need to learn in a classroom environment, whether it is an in-person classroom, a virtual classroom or a hybrid of the two. These courses are offered through a wide range of organizations, including BISCI, and at a range of time frames to finish the course material, which provides you with the option to work at a pace that best suits your needs. In general, an in-person class will have a specific time frame, often over a number of days or a few weeks, while the online courses will give you greater flexibility in your time frame.
In general, these courses will include a few dozen hours of lectures, video or other courseware and will require approximately 120-150 hours of additional independent study to ensure that you have the knowledge you need to pass the course successfully. The costs will run anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 for materials and course books that will help you prepare for the exam. If you're a veteran and qualify for the GI Bill, these costs are often covered completely under that program, leaving you with virtually no cost beyond the investment of your time and energy for the exam preparation. There are also a wide range of options available for additional study aids, which we'll discuss below.
Independent Study Tools
But what if that's not the way you want to go to prepare for the RCDD exam? Many professionals have enough experience in the field that they don't want to spend a lot of time in courses that are rehashing information with which they're already familiar. Maybe you need more time to get through the training material or you want some additional study aids to ensure you have a good grasp on the topic. In these cases, there are a number of different options that are available.
- The Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual from BISCI is the standard manual used in virtually every piece of courseware and in-person courses and is highly recommended for your independent study. It's used as the basis for a large percentage of the questions that come up in the exam, so having a solid grasp of the content is very helpful in getting the results you want out of the test.
- There are also a couple separate classes offered by BISCI and other organizations that can help you pick and choose which individual areas you need to improve in. These include BISCI's DD101, Foundations of Telecommunications Distribution Design and DD102, Designing Telecommunications Distribution Systems.
- There are a number of businesses that offer flash cards for reviewing the information in the manual and exam as well as the test questions that are likely to come up in the exam. They will typically cover several hundred to several thousand questions in a set, allowing you to review as much information as you need to successfully pass the exam.
- Many organizations offer practice exams, either virtually or on paper, to allow you to work your way through and see where you're having issues with your studies. This allows you to focus on the areas where you need help instead of wasting time reviewing material that you already have down.
- In most cases, the review material is available both in paper format, online and through aps on mobile devices. This allows you to study in virtually any setting, whether it's a quick glance on your phone while waiting at the doctor's office, glancing through a paperback while traveling out of reasonable internet service or while dedicating time in the office or at home at your computer.
You'll need to provide documentation of several types when you apply to take the exam. You'll need to document your experience and any education that you've taken to make up any difference between the two and five year marks. You'll need to complete the application and send in a nonrefundable fee, along with four letters of reference: one personal, one from your current employer and two from clients. If you're self-employed, you can use a third client reference in place of the employer reference.
By taking the time to properly prepare for the RCDD exam, you can ensure that you'll be able to pass it with flying colors the first time, allowing you to avoid spending time in preparation to retake the exam in the future. Once you have your certification, you'll only need to gain 45 hours of continuing education credit over three years, including attending at least one BICSI conference during that time period.
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