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Professionalism - an impossible task?

I'VE OFTEN BEEN ASKED what can be done to enhance professionalization in the security industry. For an individual, professionalizing an industry may seem impossible. Yet significant strides can be made through collective efforts.

The designation of professional has to be earned. For example, look at the medical profession. For decades, practicing medicine was thought to be part of the black arts. In some regions of the world it still is. However, after years of hard work, coupled with agonizingly slow technical advancements, medical practitioners are honored professionals.

We have made steady progress in our quest for professional designation in the security industry. But we must continue this progress and be patient--professionalism takes time. Certain individual efforts can produce positive results in the professionalization process.

Organizational support. Actively support those organizations that enhance professionalism. Many organizations are in an excellent position to exert influence. Become more than a card-carrying member. If business considerations permit, volunteer to serve in some capacity. Volunteers are the life-blood of any organization, and transfusions are required frequently.

Attend the meetings to demonstrate that you are supportive. Provide feedback on substantive issues--something more than comments about the meeting place, choice of menu, or cost of the meal. If the program content is not satisfactory, silence will not change it. Your input is invaluable.

Be warned, however, that you will be challenged to become actively involved. You can perform many tasks to make the organization successful; the more hands to do the work, the lighter the burden for all.

Formal degree programs. Supporting these programs promotes professionalism. Many schools offer security-related programs. If none exist in your area, urge local college officials of both two-and four-year programs to add security courses to their curriculum. Security practitioners often serve as part-time instructors to keep the programs vibrant and the information current.

Formal degree programs should also be endorsed through your local professional organization. If a local chapter does not exist, pursue starting one. If degree programs are available, encourage more students to enroll. Offering scholarships is an excellent way to increase enrollment. If the school is unable to offer a degree program, suggest instead a certificate program, which covers the core courses for a security major. Remember, you are a consumer of the products these schools produce.

Internship programs. A company can provide a valuable contribution by becoming involved in an internship program that offers practical experience for students in a security major. Also, offer tours of your company. Why not volunteer to sit on an advisory committee on curriculum development? Would the school entertain the idea of a guest lecturer to discuss your specialty? Do not hesitate to express your needs to the educational institution, since it requires your specific input to determine the courses it should offer.

Seminar and workshop participation. Attending various forums assists the professionalism process. Unfortunately, some senior security practitioners scoff at going to these functions. Consequently, they seldom attend and do not send subordinates in their stead. These practitioners grouse about, do not learn anything new, and miss the point.

Seminars and workshops are opportunities not only to review the state of the art but also to renew acquaintances, make new contacts, and discuss concerns throughout the security profession. It should come as no surprise that the solution to a problem may well lie in the experiences of peers practicing in a different part of the industry.

Presentations. Make presentations at seminars and workshops. Topics are always in demand, and speakers who are willing to take the time and energy to prepare presentations will find no lack of opportunities. If making formal presentations is not your cup of tea, consider moderating a panel or serving on the panel itself.

Certified Protection Professional (CPP) program. Like formal degree programs, the CPP program enhances professionalism. In existence for 14 years, the CPP designation receives wide recognition. This recognition is seen through the growing number of security practitioners who take the CPP examination. Also, advertisements in newspapers for security positions state that the CPP designation or a demonstrated ability to pass the CPP exam is considered a plus for the job.

The CPP title is not an artificial indicator of professionalism. ASIS sponsors the program. The program attests that the individual meets a demonstrated level of proficiency as a security practitioner. Every three years, security professionals must be recertified, which keeps the CPP designee actively involved in professional pursuits. Therefore, the acquisition and continued possession of the CPP designation is a worthy goal for all practitioners.

These are but a few of the many steps you can take that make an impact on the security professionalization process. Your participation toward the growth of professionalism is limited only by your imagination and commitment to the task.

Lonnie R. Buckels, CPP is the head of security operations at Hughes Aircraft Company's Microelectronics Systems Division in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:professionalization in the security industry
Author:Buckels, Lonnie R.
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1991
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