The old idea of industrial security was a low-paid guard who stood
at a gate or patrolled an empty building at night. That's no longer the reality.
Today's industrial security professionals are highly trained experts who can
be found in the boardrooms and executive suites of security-conscious companies
around the world.
"This is a growth field," says Darcy Kernaghan. Kernaghan owns a security
"It's a huge industry, and it's nearly recession-proof. When times are
bad, the security industry is still pretty stable. It's not just 9/11 driving
this. There's a real requirement for safety in public places...which are often
owned by private businesses or industry."
Industrial security covers a wide range of jobs, from security consultants
and guards to people who develop products like cameras and alarm systems.
Protecting information from identity thieves, industrial spies and hackers
is extremely important. That means computer security experts are in high
Sample tasks for industrial security professionals include:
- Assessing security risks, like shared computer files or job site access
- Reviewing security products such as cameras or alarms
- Recommending security measures
- Conducting personnel background checks
- Designing computer programs or applications
- Keeping good records of clients and their security plans
- Responding to security breaches
A typical day might involve meeting with security system designers, touring
job sites, assessing security issues, doing research, writing security reports
or designing computer programs.
Kernaghan's company specializes in manpower and security consulting. It
also handles security at a major international airport.
"We work in all kinds of industries, although our focus is mainly corporate
security. We interface with all other security industries -- cameras, alarms
etc.," says Kernaghan.
"Most people who come to us for work don't know what they're getting into.
They're looking at us because it's a growth industry. Then they get a few
years into it and start seeing all these career possibilities: border patrol;
corporate investigator; pre-board screener....This industry is much bigger
than a guard standing at a post."
Much of the work involves dealing with people. "I like working with people,
knowing that I'm contributing to their safety and helping them," says Ken
Moffett. He is head of industrial security for Boeing.
Excellent communication skills are essential. Other characteristics employers
look for are integrity, honesty and teamwork.
You should be comfortable working in a team environment, but you should
also be able to work independently. A second language is an asset, especially
for international companies or government-related industries.
You should also have good research, planning and time management skills.
You need to be able to work under pressure in a crisis. A clean background
is a must: almost all companies run background checks on employees before
"We hire on values," says Kernaghan. "Integrity, honesty, accountability
and compassion are all important in this industry. Other good ideas are criminology
courses, reading trade magazines and joining security associations, maybe
working for an alarm company and investigating the issues in the industry.
A high school education is a must. A degree in criminology, social services,
law or business is frequently required. Computer security specialists need
a degree or diploma in computer science or computer systems security.
Specialized training may be required for work in nuclear power plants or
hazardous work areas.
Almost all universities and colleges offer courses in criminology, justice,
law and business or commerce. Most offer computer science degrees or diplomas
that allow students to focus on information security.
There are a number of formal training programs and courses in North America
specifically for security professionals.
ASIS International administers the three most widely recognized certifications
for security professionals: the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) for
experienced security professionals, the Professional Certified Investigator
(PCI), and the Physical Security Professional (PSP).
Vicky Contavespi at ASIS International notes that certification is becoming
much more common.
"There's a real movement for people to get a higher degree now," she says.
"Certifications are a great tool. The CPP certification tells employers that
you've been a security manager and that you have a broad knowledge of the
industry, which is very important. A security professional is more than just
ASIS and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania now offer
a two-week "mini-MBA" program for security executives. The program is designed
for chief security officers or security managers. Webster University in Missouri
also offers an MA program in security management in cooperation with ASIS.
Work environments, stress levels and salaries in industrial security vary
widely depending on the exact job. If you're working for a large company,
you can expect fairly regular hours unless there is a crisis. Independent
consultants and security investigators may have more irregular hours.
An organization of security professionals
Offers resources for computer security workers
International Association of Professional Security Consultants
Sets industry standards for professionalism
Security Management Magazine
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