One of the questions I am always asked from people entering the Close Protection sector is which Close Protection Training Provider should I use?
There are many out there, some are good, some are bad but how can you tell before you part with your hard earned cash and what are the questions that you should be asking?
Before embarking on any course it is always advisable to carry out your own due diligence, it is amazing how many people don’t do this and end up getting caught out.
I would advise to start any personal due diligence by asking your peers whom you that know may have carried out the particular course you are looking at attending. Find out their experiences and what they thought about the level of training provided? I find recommendations from fellow operators are the best source of intel when looking to embark on any training course.
What questions should you be asking the provider?
Who are the instructors?
It is always good to find out the background of the course instructors. It is their knowledge and experience that you are paying to receive so you need to know that they have the required relevant operational experience to draw from and have the ability to put it across. Learning from someone whom has spent a good amount of time and “earned their spurs” within the industry is more preferential than not as they will have experienced many of the pitfalls and will have many gems of wisdom that can be passed on that can’t be learned by someone whom has just done a course and then carried out an instructor’s qualification to teach the subject.
The majority of training providers will have their instructor’s details on their websites. If not, why not? It doesn’t necessarily mean that the training provider is a bad one if these details aren’t listed but it is certainly advisable that you ask this question and be happy with the answer provided if not.
Do they have the correct and relevant insurances in place?
Do not be afraid to ask to see the relevant documentation. Close Protection training can be physical and hazardous so you want to be sure that your training provider have the correct insurances in place, imagine you have an accident on a course or injure someone else! Are you covered?
If UK based, is your Training Provider accredited by a recognised SIA Awarding Organisation?
I recently had someone whom had just completed a course with a foreign training provider get in touch with me and asked for advice as the course did not provide him with the qualifications needed to obtain an SIA license to enable him to operate in the UK. After speaking to him I established that he was in fact UK based and had chosen to do the course overseas as it was cheaper and he just assumed that he would be able to get his license at the end of training.
The training provider did not in any way advertise that they were an SIA approved provider so unfortunately he did not have a leg to stand on and he had to fork out again for another training course to get the required tick in the box to operate, so by trying to save money it in fact cost him twice the price!
You can check the status of your chosen training provider by visiting the SIA website. If they are not listed then it is likely they are not able to offer you what you require.
How much trading history does your training provider have?
How many courses have they ran previously, how many students have they taught? Will they allow you to contact previous students for feedback? There will be many fantastic new training providers out there whom may not have a huge trading history as they are new to the market, I certainly would not rule any of these providers out, these are just questions to help get you in the right mindset and allow you to carry out your own due diligence before investing your hard earned money in training.
Are there any hidden costs to the course?
Is food and accommodation included or is this a separate cost to be met by yourself? This is something to take into consideration when booking a course, if accommodation is not included this could alter the cost of attending training significantly. If accommodation is not offered you will generally find that the good providers will have an established relationship with a local B&B, which will offer favorable rates for its students.
Does your training provider offer a quality-training program?
Some providers may offer a cheaper course, but what you find in life is that you generally get what you pay for. You will find the cheaper price may mean that the training provider only offer you the bare minimum amount of contact hours required to allow you to legitimately take the exam and apply for your license. A good training provider will elaborate more by covering additional subject areas that will be important to your career and that are not can not be covered in the bare minimum syllabus.
Remember you are embarking on a career that you wish to be successful in so you should be looking to get the most comprehensive training that you can!
Training providers reputations and the reputations of their instructors do carry over and can mean a lot, so invest in the best training that you can!
Is there any “aftercare” or post course support offered?
This is something that extremely important. The Close Protection sector is extremely competitive and you may well find that upon completion of your training that it is very tough and that you have to work extremely hard to get your foot in the door. During this time are you able to get back in touch with your provider for advice or once they have your money is that you fone and dusted? A good training provider will offer some post course support if needed this may come in the form of CV advice, they may have an online group for its students to share job opportunities, advise on particular things that you may be doing wrong, whilst of course you cannot have a 24/7 hotline some post course support at the very least should be offered.
This is just a guide to help you make an informed decision when embarking on your new career path, the Close Protection sector is a fantastic place in which to operate, you will meet many friends and see some fantastic things but it is essential that you make good decisions from the outset and that starts with the training provider that you choose.
A great place to ask for further advice would be by joining the British or North American Bodyguard Association. You can post upon the message boards and get answers to any questions you may have, there is a wealth of information and experience there to draw from. They also have an employment section which is regularly updated with employment opportunities.
Like anything in life, as long as you do your research you should find the training provider that is right for you, and will have made that important first step to becoming a fully licensed close protection officer.
by: Shaun West