Industrial security is a career track offering opportunities for employees to enter in the ground and management levels depending on experience. Employees with required and transferable skills and eligible for a security clearance may discover tremendous opportunities. Many who have hired on in entry level jobs have received promotions and additional responsibilities. Others have transferred full time to security after enjoying serving in an additional duty capacity. Career growth occurs as the contract and company expands or the employee takes on more responsibilities.
Cleared security employees just entering the work force can excel their potential while concurrently building skills and filling a critical need while filing receipts, wrapping packages, checking access rosters, applying information system security, or bringing classified information into an accountability system. Current skills combined with learning to implement programs designed to safeguard classified information provides a great foundations to build careers on. Additionally, many employees attend university and other adult education opportunities while serving full time in the security field. The experience, education, certification and security clearance gained while on the job prove very valuable.
Taking a look at want ads and job announcement, one can see that education and certification is beginning to be more of a requirement. Past listings for entry level and some Facility Security Officer (FSO) jobs required only the ability to get a security clearance and having a high school diploma or a GED. However, new job announcements require formal education to include college and a preference for security certification. The defense security industry still provides a good career field to gain entry level experience and move up quickly. Being well entrenched in a good career provides the perfect environment and opportunity for simultaneous education and certification.
For those starting their careers in smaller enterprises have a keen opportunity to perform in various security disciplines. Some actually assume appointed FSO responsibilities as an extra duty and learn as they go. Many of the defense contractor organizations are small and may only have one person in the security role. The sole security manager may only work in one discipline such as personnel security. Others have a larger scope, working with a guard force, information security, and compliance issues such as exports.
Large Defense Contractors and Government agencies also provide entry level security jobs. The job title is often identified as security specialist and job descriptions provide challenges for growth. Some descriptions use words to the affect as the following: "The candidate must be eligible for a security clearance. Job responsibilities include receiving, cataloging, storing, and mailing classified information. Maintain access control to closed areas. Provide security support for classified information processing and destruction. Initiate security clearance requests and process requests for government and contract employees conducting classified visits. Implement security measures as outlined in NISPOM." Administrative, military, guard, and other past job experience may provide transferable skills to allow a person to apply for the job. Once hired, the new employee learns the technical skills, they can quickly advance applying their other experiences and education.
The defense security industry provides great opportunities for those transitioning from federal and military service. With an active or recent clearance, these potential employees can apply transferable leadership and administrative skills to protect classified information. Career advancement and promotions are continually available for the prepared. Opportunities continue to exist in companies large enough to provide increasing challenges and rewards. Some may have to apply for jobs with other enterprises to reach their potential. Others may be satisfied performing their valuable functions in an organization where their skills are valued and rewarded.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP, is the author of "ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual".