Who, when initially looking for a close protection course, tried to find the cheapest course and quickest route possible to your badge? Who researched their training provider and checked out all the credentials and qualifications of their instructors?
Who doesn’t intend to do any other training until they find at least some work to pay back their initial training costs? Who, reading this, has attended an ‘accredited’ training course but has actually never yet done a day’s work as a designated protection officer? I could go on, but well… you get the picture!
Finding the right training course is a really, really important first step in your career in protection. But it isn’t an easy thing to do; train with the right company and you might be able to find work fairly quickly thereafter; train with the wrong company and you could easily have wasted thousands and a lot of time; it is likely that you will never get any work… ever! Train with the right company and your portfolio and CV/Resume looks good from the very beginning; train with the wrong company and your CV doesn’t even get looked at! Train with the right company and you are considered a serious player who invests time and money in your career and development, and who wants to be the very best; train with the wrong company and, well you just get laughed at!
But how do you choose the right training course? Let’s go back to an earlier question; Who, when looking for a Close Protection course, tried to find the cheapest course and quickest route to your badge? If you have this mindset when choosing a course, you are probably going to choose the wrong course and training provider. Pretty simple really. So, before you start to choose a course, you need to look at your mindset; if your mindset is just to get a license, regardless of whether that license will get you any work or not, then choose any course, by any provider, at the cheapest price possible and good luck! Because I can 99.9% guarantee you will never work in Protection, ever.
However, if you have a really determined mindset to find the best course, and to be the best, how do you go about doing it?
The first and the most important thing to remember is that your initial close protection training should be just the very first step of your training portfolio; further and on-going training is a must on the road to a really great career. Your compulsory 140 hours is just the very beginning; just a taster, if you like. After your course you will know a little bit about everything, but not a lot about anything, so you have to consider taking other more specialised training shortly after your basic training depending upon your career path.
And therefore, I strongly suggest that, even at this early stage, you have some sort of an idea about what kind of close protection you are more interested in, and then try to choose a course training provider relevant to your career path. For example, if you’re British and do not intend to work outside of the UK, then initially investing in a course offering extensive firearms training will be a complete waste of money – employers in the UK will not need to know that you can field-strip an AK47 under constant mortar bombardment or double-clicking multiple targets while evacuating your principal. I hope.
If you only want to work at events and concerts and with pop stars and celebrities, then select a specific training provider relevant to this particular sector of security and area of operations, Icon Corporation in the US, for instance. There are a number of specialised well-known companies who only provide security for events, concerts etc., and so training with them will be far more beneficial to your chosen career path than choosing a general CP training course with a company that just trains and nothing else, and you can always upgrade your training to suit a new working environment and / or career path at a later date. Interested in female only security? Again, there are a few female only operational companies that also offer CP training services, such as Athena Academy. Interested in working in particular or specific regions or environments? Again, there are a few international companies e.g. Ronin in South Africa that are licensed by the SIA. So, think carefully about which area of close protection you are particularly interested in, and then do your research for specialised companies within these sectors that also provide CP/EP training services. Don’t just do a general protection course hoping to then decide where to take your career, because this is exactly what thousands of people do and you’ll be just the same as everyone else.
In my opinion; it is better to be a specialist than a ‘jack of all trades.’ I get loads of CVs sent to me, and when I look at someone’s CV that lists lots of different skills, I know that they probably have a good but fairly basic understanding of many areas of providing protective services, but they are probably a master of none. However, when I read a CV which lists extensive training and experience in a few key skills and sectors, then I immediately understand they are a more likely a specialist. These candidates are filed; because specialists are worth their weight in gold. The rest? Well… I get hundreds of CVs so why keep them? And I know that many major security companies feel the same; why keep an average run-of-the-mill resume when hundreds of them come into our offices each and every month? It would be impossible to keep them all and a complete waste of time reading them too! So, unless candidates state in their covering letter that they are a specialist or have special skills, unfortunately most CVs go straight into the bin. Sorry, but this is a fact. So, consider specialising at a very early stage.
Once you have decided on your career path and your particular speciality, and then once you have completed your initial accredited training course with the appropriate training provider (appropriate to your desired speciality), quickly invest in further, on-going training specific to that field, especially if you have limited operational experience. Important, if you cannot show experience at the start of your career, then show training and education.
Every time I am asked about developing a training portfolio, I always refer back to a good friend who, over the course of two years, invested well over £10k on training; every spare penny he had, he put towards security and CP related training courses, and he travelled all over the world developing his education. Because he was not originally from a military background he found it very difficult to get established, so he trained, and trained, and trained, for two whole years. He had no operational experience but because of his huge training portfolio, he eventually secured a great position as a security driver with aristocracy in France, with a salary of £1000 a week, plus accommodation, expenses etc. He ended up staying in that job for over two years. Do the math and you’ll see that his initial investment in training was quickly paid back in just over two months. He didn’t make any excuses, he had his goals and set about achieving them.
So, to summarize; if you are interested in a career in close protection do these FOUR things FIRST and before you embark on your career:
DECIDE very early on, on any speciality or specific area of protection that is of particular interest, and then…
SEARCH the appropriate training course with a course provider that is specific or most closely related to this interest and then…
INVEST in the best training course, with the most reputable, related training provider available and then…
INVEST in further training specific to your interest.
Remember, SPECIALISTS are like gold dust, however Protection officers with just a standard license are two-a-penny.
Deciding How To Start Your Career In Close Protection
By Robin Barratt
Robin Barratt is a security consultant specialising in HR and close protection recruitment. He is based between Norfolk, UK and Manama, Bahraain.