How to Advance in a Security Career

Advance in Your Career

Turn a Security Job into a Security Career


A career in the security field is often misunderstood.  The demands of more secure environments in private sectors and public places keep increasing, therefore security has now grown into a multi million dollar industry, providing multitudes of opportunities for anyone pursuing a career in this particular field. As opposed to the general public’s view of security careers, this job does not only revolve around physical security, but also a myriad of other fields including but not limited to security of information, economic crime, terrorism, and fraud. Each field requires professionals in order to prevent potential misuse or attacks from anyone or crime organizations.

Each field also requires a different set of skills that professionals must acquire. Those who are pursuing careers in security fields are facing challenges to improve their overall knowledge and understanding of how security works. Every type of security pathway requires broad knowledge of how the business works in order to prevent potential crimes. In retail organizations, for example, shoplifting is an increasing problem, as well as internal employee theft. Cyber and information industries also face increasing challenges by hackers; identity theft, leaked company information, and the possibility of information trading are some of the greatest obstacles. Medical environments such as hospitals also need to implement better privacy security, the same thing can be said to hotels. Even the government and public areas need better security professionals to prevent and handle potential security concerns.

Depending on the field, there is a different path to take to advance your career. In general, security professions can be divided into three major categories including:


  • Contract Security or Proprietary Security: the main concerns in this particular field are assets protection. Professional security guards/officers who possess the necessary skills to handle the tasks are greatly needed by many different institutions, agencies, and business.


  • Private or Public Places: it is true that security positions are mainly required by the private sector, but government agencies especially at federal levels also need security professionals to do the equivalent task of their proprietary counterparts.


  • Law enforcement: government has its own law enforcement officers, but security professionals are almost always the first to be at the crime scene. Moreover, professional security people are required to prevent and handle critical situations and implement security plans and programs before government’s law enforcement arrive.


To actually stand out from the crowd of security professionals, anyone should always learn all the necessary skills and broaden their knowledge about every specific field that he/she works on. As mentioned earlier, security is not always about physical-oriented power, but also privacy concerns and even economic-related issues. Based on that, courseworks in security are not merely about physical strength and the ability to prevent physical crime, but also involve computer science, business management, psychology, philosophy, political science, police science, electronics, information management, etc.


Specific Security Fields


Based on the aforementioned three major divisions, security careers are spread across a multitude of industrial sectors as briefly outlined below.


  • Banking or Financial: a security professional has to deal with financial institutions and related fields such as credit cards, mortgage, internet banking, insurance companies, and more. The potential earnings for entry-level personnel range from $35,000 - $65,000 annually. Certified personnel can earn up to $100,000.
  • Commercial Real Estate: security professionals in this field manage physical environments such as residential buildings and shopping malls. Salary for entry-level ranges from $40,000 to $50,000
  • Cultural Properties: the perfect examples of cultural properties are museums and art galleries. Security personnel are responsible for visitors’ health & safety, fire protection, technical services, and even administrative. Salary for entry level starts from $20,000 to $40,000 per year.
  • Educational Institution: security professionals operate in educational institutions such as private schools, universities, and colleges. Entry level salary reaches $40,000 to $50,000 annually.
  • Gaming Security: security professions in the increasing number of gaming and gambling facilities. Entry level salary is approximately $8 to $15 per hour.
  • Government/Industrial: this is probably the most challenging, and usually requires academic degrees from accredited institutions and strict background checks. Proven track record is required as well. Entry level salary ranges from $55,000 to $75,000.
  • Healthcare Security: this field involves responsibilities ranging from asset protection to employee investigations. Bachelor degree is usually a minimum requirement and experience in health care service is desired. Entry level salary ranges from $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Information Systems: security professionals in this field are required to provide safety protection for hardware, software, and all related processes. It is necessary to allow authorized users to have access while maintaining security procedures. Certifications such as CISSP are required. Entry level salary starts from $40,000 to $80,000.
  • Investigations: this field involves plenty of specialty knowledge such as computer forensics, crime analysis, potential workplace violence, and more. Degrees in criminal justice, criminology, and business are desired. Entry level salary starts from $35,000 to $55,000. Certified professionals can earn up to $85,000.


Security Career Pathways

Other specialty fields include Executive Protection, Agricultural Security, Nuclear Security, Transportation Security, Retail Loss Prevention, Manufacturing Security, and more.


ASIS International


Similar to other career opportunities, anyone who is pursuing career in security must pass certification procedures, examinations, and probably licensing procedures. Across the United States of America, there are numerous educational institutions including colleges and universities that provide various programs majoring in security. The programs may include asset protection, security management, and basically security-related disciplines in many different industrial sectors. Courses for security guards/officers are also provided by community colleges. Not all educational institutions are allowed to provide certifications; there are certain standards to meet.


Certification from ASIS basically allow career seekers to gain instant professional credibility, quickly advance in their security career, and certainly increase earning potential. ASIS currently provides three certifications including:


CPP (Certified Protection Professional): this certification is a validation of individual skills in the security management field. It is given to any individual who has also demonstrated broad knowledge in security solutions and business practices. Those who are eligible to take the examination for CPP are bachelor degrees with at least seven years of experience (three of which are spent in responsible charge of security function) or nine years of experience (without bachelor degree) with three years in charge of security function.


PCI (Professional Certified Investigator): any individual who has high school diploma or GED equivalent and five years of investigative service (two of which are spent in case management) are eligible for the examination to acquire PCI certification.


PSP (Physical Security Professional): eligibility requirements for examination of this certification include high school diploma or GED equivalent and five years of experience in physical security. The term “physical security” refers to physical security surveys and the use of security equipment for example integrated security system. 


Besides those three major certifications by ASIS, there are also different types of certifications based on specific field of industry, for example:


  • CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) issued by Association of Certified Fraud Examiner
  • CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) issued by International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium.
  • CHPA (Certified Healthcare Protection Administrator) issued by International Association of Healthcare Security Safety Professional.


Security Career Growth Summary


The demand for security personnel is greatly increasing in the past few years due to the prevalent security issues in all fields of private and public sectors. To advance or pursue a career in the security profession, anyone should be eligible to take examinations for certifications offered by internationally reputable organizations. Once certified, a professional must also enroll in re-certification programs and continuing education courses to maintain professional credibility. Eligibility for examinations depends on the organizations but most of them require considerable experience in the security field and a high school diploma.