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Opinion Article by Nick Karas - Professional Certifications

In this article Nick explains the importance of professional certification in security. He speaks as an experienced security leader and employer who has worked through all levels of the industry.

In this article I define “professional certification” as an industry recognised qualification that provides recognition of skills, knowledge and abilities in the context of work.

 Recently, I caught up with a close friend recently, Daniel, who had become unemployed and explained he was having a hard time finding work.  The auto mechanic shop he had worked with for over twenty years had closed and he found himself unemployed.

 Daniel had been a loyal employee over this time.  He was rewarded with yearly pay increases, appointed the lead mechanic and pretty much ran the operation.  He also had a knack of adapting to the latest trends with an aptitude rarely matched. 

 Throughout this time Daniel had been an extremely hard worker and unfortunately never formalised his skills.  Why bother with Professional Development when Daniel enjoyed dissecting the latest product manuals, implementing the changes hands-on in the shop and even taught other staff how to implement these technical advances?  Daniel was unfortunately learning the answer to his own question the hard way.

 Daniel’s predicament is common in today’s busy society where longer work hours and commitments at home make it hard to find a moment to relax let alone take up additional studies.  The result was a lack of professional certification and current accreditation.  This effectively means, from a qualification perspective he was disadvantaging himself including potentially excluding himself from the job market or substantially reduce his earning capacity.

 Of course, many industry sector employees including security suffer similar issues.  On this issue I thought it pertinent from an employer’s perspective, to list some of the benefits in maintaining and acquiring professional certification.

 Strengthens Career Opportunities: Obtaining a certification isn’t going to propel you immediately into the CEO’s Chair however displaying current certifications on your resume is a signal that you take your profession seriously, and that you are intent on enhancing your knowledge in the field.

 Adapting to new technology and improving your skill sets are essential if you want to keep up with others in today’s fast-moving employment market.  For those who are new to an industry, obtaining certification is a great way to get your foot in the door as well as opening professional connection and networking opportunities.

 Increases Earning Potential: The effort and time invested in obtaining professional certification often results in an increase in perceived team value and therefore an increased income.  Most employers and clients understand the costs involved with specialised training and are willing to pay extra for consultants who have industry certifications.  Whether charging your services at a higher rate, or having an employer charge their clients a higher rate for your services, both avenues will likely lead to a higher return in your pocket.

 In Daniel’s case, he said he was receiving yearly pay increases but on review these were only at CPI rates.  His chances of asking and obtaining a larger annual pay rise would have been much higher with supporting professional qualifications and certifications.

 Substantiate Your Reputation: Once you’ve been employed your certifications pave the way to establish yourself as a specialist in your field and make you an asset for your team and employer.

 There are an increasing number of companies that want, or may even be required, to engage professionals holding certifications from well recognised programs.  Certification also demonstrates your commitment to meeting industry standards, continued learning and superior professionalism. 

 Improve Efficiencies: Learning industry best practice, brainstorming with like-minded individuals and acquiring updated industry information will hone your work habits.  Work habits that may be causing output inefficiencies whilst also allowing time to work on refining your competencies. 

 Learning something new will often give you the tools to introduce a more streamlined approach in the workplace and perhaps give you the confidence to try something new.

 Competitive Advantage: Having training above your competitors can set you apart when tendering for new business or personal opportunities.  Differentiating your pitch from other professionals, showing a commitment to understanding and excelling in your profession will set you above your competition.

 Holding any advantage in today’s competitive market demonstrates you can stay on top of trends, are potentially adept with the latest technology and compliant with industry standards is particularly important.

 Networking, Networking, Networking: The buzz word around town is all about Networking, or as those getting on in years like myself will often say, “It’s not about what you know but who you know that matters.”

 Attending accredited training plugs you into new communities, both those that wish to hold the certification (fellow classmates), and on completion those that are qualified and have earned the certification and now see you as a member of ‘the club.’  Another door open is another opportunity.

 I am a strong advocate for Professional Development, especially in training that leads to professional certification.  A few years back I was like Daniel in not having updated my qualifications over a long period.  I held the opinion that possessing twenty years security experience, having run my own company and already holding a BA in Criminal Justice was enough.  I believed I knew it all, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 Those against professional certification would hope that your experience and professionalism is enough but without external evidence, such as a certification, one will have a hard time justifying their claims.

 In short, certifications provide an objective measurement of your competencies proving that you have the skills and expertise to do the job.

 Qualifications aside, the additional benefits of acquiring professional certifications are endless.  I recently completed units of training in Criminal Investigating and Retail Crime Investigator, have signed up and now in the process of completing my ASIS International endorsed Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and a master’s in business.  I find myself energised liaising with industry professionals who have a wealth of knowledge they are happy to share, have expanded my professional network, secured new business opportunities and injected new technology into the business that saves time and improves internal communications.

 Finally, not all certifications are created equal and it’s important to ensure the quality and reputation of any accreditation before you begin.  When looking for quality providers and qualifications it is important to investigate the actual recognition that is attached to such certification.  It goes without saying that an absence of recognition brings into question the quality of the certification and the opportunities that may flow from it. 

 From personal experience I thoroughly recommend industry/professional certification that aligns with minimum competency standards one might expect for a security leader. 

 Nick Karas has been the Managing Director of Dominance Guardian Services for over twenty years, providing a wide range of security services around Australia and overseas. It’s been a long journey – but Nick has worked hard in an industry he loves. With a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a 200+ strong workforce, Nick is considered to be one of the leaders in Melbourne’s ever-expanding security industry and a valuable resource for any new or existing industry professional. You can find out more about Nick and Dominance Guardian Services at