What qualifications will progress my career in security?
As a career, security has the potential to offer a working lifetime of interest with endless choices of direction. Whether you want to sell security products and services or manage the consequences of crime in a corporate environment, security has something for you.
Whilst a commercial service provider could be the source of guarding services, cash collection, close protection, alarms installation or highly technical computer security consultancy, many of the major corporations have their own dedicated security professionals, covering skills from the setting of policy to the management of security awareness and the oversight of information security programmes. The breadth and depth of security is rarely fully understood by an outsider and for someone wishing to start their career in security the question is:
Where and how do I start and what qualifications will I need to progress?
If you are academically minded, the obvious starting point is to gain a degree qualification in Security Risk Management, and perhaps later move on to a Masters in Business Administration. But if you prefer to take a vocational route, there are several security apprenticeship choices; some of these can be seen at www.skills4security.com. Or you might simply apply for a job with a company in an area that interests you, and plan from there, taking advantage of training opportunities and qualifications as offered by your employer.
Chartered Security Professional
The security sector is blessed with a number of organisations who, in recent years, have been instrumental in encouraging the professionalisation of our industry, and for someone starting out, membership of Security Institute (SyI), The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals (WCoSP)or ASIS or the will provide unlimited and insightful networking opportunities.
Both the WCoSP and SyI (www.security-institute.org/CSYP) offer the route to becoming a Chartered Security Professional, the equivalent to chartered status in any of our key professions.
Security Institute personal development
The Security Institute is the largest association for security professionals in the UK, offering networking, news, events and a unique validation of experience much valued by employers and clients. The Institute promotes personal development through education and qualifications, and its annual CPD scheme.
In collaboration with the Institute’s education partner, PerpetuityARC, the Institute offers an award-winning accredited eLearning pathway from Level 3 through to Level 7 for those wishing to enhance their professional security management skills.
For more information, visit www.security-institute.org.uk/qualifications
ASIS provides three important security qualifications based upon formal certification. Mike Hurst, former Vice Chairman – Strategy, ASIS UK Chapter, explains, “ASIS certification is recognised worldwide as an advanced credential in security management with some 6,000 people qualified as Certified Protection Professionals (CPP), Physical Security Professionals (PSP) or Professional Certified Investigators (PCI). ASIS qualified security professionals are now employed in almost 4,000 companies across an impressive 70 countries. In the UK, the ASIS Chapter qualifications are unique because they are tailored to UK law, have attracted an exceptional first time pass rate of between 80 to 90% and are recognised by Buckinghamshire New University and the London Metropolitan University as contributing to advanced qualifications.”
David Cresswell CPP PSP, continues, “The study process is not for the faint hearted or those whose job means that they cannot devote the necessary study time. The mandatory four month distance-learning phase demands no less than 160 hours of commitment to completing the written tasks, and an above-average ability to synthesise and absorb knowledge. This is followed by a one-week classroom course to consolidate and test this knowledge. Despite the time-demand challenges, security professionals operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, the marine environs of Somalia, and the Niger Delta have all managed to complete the programme and pass the examination.”
David adds, “Recent changes in the examination question construction mean that ability to recall knowledge and facts is no longer a guarantee of passing. Examinations now place much greater emphasis on the candidate’s ability to interpret the references studied and to demonstrate an ability to apply that knowledge. Thus, it is now a much more accurate measure of ability and intelligence.”
Having decided to set off on a career in security, whilst there is significant advice and support available from the organisations mentioned in this article, and others, there really is no standard way to progress.
However, increasingly you will need to have demonstrated your academic ability via qualifications that suit your skills, career starting point, interests and your chosen trajectory. Vitally, you will also need to have personal traits such as good interpersonal skills, imagination, courage, and, in keeping with all the people involved in setting up these exciting qualifications, an absolute determination to enhance the professionalism of ‘security’, our thriving industry.
Former CEO, Skills for Security
(Article updated May 2022)
For information on developing your career in security, see Security Careers