Train to Remain Cutting Edge

Training may be one of the most valuable yet misunderstood components of any corporate business strategy. It can be the first option on the chopping block during budget cuts and will often be the first necessity missed when performance begins to suffer.

Training is not a direct profit center for most organizations and yet without it, profit potential can never be maximized. Training takes on particular importance in the security industry. It takes an ongoing and consistent training strategy to stay current with the latest technologies, product launches and ever-changing market dynamics. In just the past decade, the security industry has been revolutionized by the advancements in computing technology, evolving approaches to project management and trends such as convergence.

That’s why the largest organizations in the industry have placed a primary emphasis on educating their people, partners and clients. There are manifold reasons: manufacturers need to educate dealers and distributors on new products. End users need to know how to use their equipment and interface with monitoring stations, technicians and support staff. Installers must have a solid grounding in basic practices, construction and low voltage. And unlike previous generations, the installers of today also need to learn networking, TCP/IP and structured wiring.

So how does this industry adapt? The answer is as varied as the solutions the security industry provides. There are seminars held in hotel ballrooms, certification exams at trade shows, product training onsite at manufacturer campuses, and now global conferencing and eLearning to maintain continuing education requirements. Each organization is left to find its own path and navigate the challenges of business to accomplish their overall sales and service goals.

The security industry, like many others, has faced the same dilemma of crafting a training initiative from the many options available. And many have found that the answer is not a clear-cut choice of one option, but rather a blend of opportunities drawn from the best of instructor-led interaction with the speed and efficiency of online, self-paced and synchronous learning development.

Manufacturers Are Demonstrating a Commitment to Training

Manufacturing is the engine of the security industry. It provides the research, innovation and marketability for the products that are used in every security and fire system design. And as the product source, the manufacturing industry has found itself barraged with the need for training on its products as well as the integration, support and service throughout the industry. Several companies have embraced this role and set the standard for education solutions.

Just look at Clovis, Calif.-based Pelco. Its Video Systems Institute is used by thousands of people at all levels of the industry. Some organizations use the training on video system design as part of their own internal training paths for sales and technicians alike. Pelco realized that by providing a quality education resource, it could reach out to the entire industry. The company provides quality programs and receives the product recognition to drive its own sales.

A presence in the training arena yields marketing opportunities that are literally priceless in value. Visit the Video Systems Institute at

Panasonic Security Systems, with U.S. operations based in Secaucus, N.J., a provider of video systems, is blazing a parallel path with its Panasonic Security Training University (P-Tech). This blend of classroom training and online delivery is centered on its recently launched online training portal. The site creates a one-stop shop for people seeking online instruction for Panasonic video systems or classroom training delivered across the country. Panasonic also sees the marketing value of dealer and technician training that extends the brand as much as it educates the masses. For more information, visit com/business/security/training/ index.asp.

NAPCO Security Systems of Amityville, N.Y., employs several field engineers whose sole function is to offer continuing education units (CEU)-accredited training. The nationwide training classes are free to security professionals of all levels of experience, including those entering the intrusion and/or integrator market from a related discipline. An example of this would be locksmiths entering burglar markets or electrical contractors becoming security integrators of intrusion, video and access systems.

NAPCO sales personnel come from the security industry and they have a hands-on working knowledge of all aspects of the market. These sales personnel, often in concert with independent distributor partners across the U.S., regularly offer training sessions as well as new products and new security technology sessions. These are valuable for people new to the security industry needing detailed knowledge of the latest security technologies. For more information, visit and click on the “products & support” tab.

A final example can be found at Irvine, Calif.-based HID Global. HID is by far the world’s largest manufacturer of readers and credentials. As the company has changed from 125kHz proximity technology to its new and advanced iCLASS line, it has found the need to educate all levels of the industry from dealers to the end user.

The HID online training portal was designed to meet just such a goal. This site has been training thousands of people for more than three years from every corner of the globe. Users from the U.S. to China have learned the basics of mutual authentication, credential power and the new smart card capabilities from the convenience of their laptops and home computers. And like many other manufacturers, HID has attained CEUs (continuing education units) for its training that provides a very important value-add to potential students. Go to for more information.

These four examples are but a few of the initiatives being undertaken across the industry. Manufacturers will continue to be a driving force behind new training options, initiatives and certifications and will be a prime resource at all personnel levels in security.

Trade Associations Flex Their Collective Resource Muscle

The security industry has some very large and powerful trade associations. Together, these organizations have used the input of members to drive the educational priorities of the entire industry. From certifications to general knowledge, these organizations provide a universal resource for educational opportunities for member companies and the employees and even journeymen labor.

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), for example, has been at the forefront of education for central station operators and staff for decades. It has worked closely with other associations to develop in-house training programs for operators through certification programs and train-the-trainer sessions. CSAA was one of the first in the industry to embrace online training and has crafted the industry’s most coveted certification (Five Diamond) through online training and testing with more than 4,000 operators trained to date. Visit for more information.

The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) is another prime example. Through the National Training School (NTS), NBFAA offers training and certification for installers, dealers and sales staff across the country. The Certified Alarm Technician (Level One) designation is t
he industry standard for low-voltage alarm installation and maintenance. State chapters offer training and proctored exams. In 2005, students were given the ability to go online and take the certification preparatory training from their computers. This is a time-saving step for students because they only come to the classroom for the proctored exams. Visit for details.

In an example of association partnering to bring truly monumental training to the industry are the efforts of NBFAA and its collaboration with the Western Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA) and the California Alarm Association (CAA). Together, they are spearheading one of the most exciting programs in the industry to date by bringing a four-year apprenticeship education curriculum online as an alternative to their already revolutionary classroom training.

Specifically aimed at educating the shortage of skilled persons who install and service alarm systems, this program will be taught in a “blended” model where students will take online modules preparing them for campusbased, hands-on labs in some locations or entirely online formats in others. In an industry almost devoid of standards in education, when launched, alarm companies throughout the U.S. will be able to use this program to ensure their installers, technicians and apprentices have a consistent method of education and a standardized knowledge base.

Finally, the Security Industry Association (SIA) is the bellwether of general security industry education from structured wiring to the world of electronic access control. SIA’s eLearning initiative has been developed as a primary educational resource for all levels of security industry personnel. For details, visit

Conference Training Sessions Can Be Beneficial, but Buyer Beware

There are literally dozens of trade shows held each year in the security industry, some larger and more significant than others. Each of them boasts to offer “the best education opportunities in the industry,” and many of them have quite a bit of crossover with the same speakers, line-ups, concepts and keynotes.

One trade show may target the enduser audience, while another targets the integrator and yet another, the manufacturing community. The key to getting the most out of trade shows is knowing what to truly value in the curriculum that is offered and doing some homework beforehand to make sure individual needs are met.

Most trade shows offer seminars and education sessions, but not all of them offer CEUs for the sessions they are hosting. Would-be participants should first confirm the sessions offer CEUs before registering. Many will offer such credit, especially considering the hefty amount of money attendees are likely to be asked to pay.

Importantly, individuals should always make it a point to find out who is hosting the session. If it is a manufacturer- hosted session, odds are it will be free. If it is a session put on by the event’s organizer attendees can expect to drop some sweet change for the price of entry. That is unless the training is sponsored by an industry group in charge of membership or volunteers. If so, not only will the training be free but there will be food, too.

Which leads to the closing (and more serious) consideration: you pay for what you get. Many times the group putting on an event will have some of the industry’s leading subject matter experts offering training as part of the “for pay” track, so those are worth consideration. But be sure to find out if the same session might be available online after the event for a lesser cost. Such a scenario is just as effective and may not be as expensive.

There are three shows that offer particularly great education and are significant enough in size and creative in format that they deserve consideration by all who are new to our industry.

First, the International Security Conference (ISC) shows. There are two held each year, West and East, named aptly for their geographical settings. ISC West was held in late March in Las Vegas. ISC East will be held Sept. 11-12 in New York.

ASIS Int’l is another cannot-miss event. The show varies in location each year but is always held around the September/October timeframe. The 2007 show will be held Sept. 24- 27 in Las Vegas.

NICET, Other Organizations Offer Sought-After Certification

The National Institute for Certification of Engineering Technologies (NICET) is one of the best-known and most respected agencies in the industry when it comes to certifications. NICET’s nationally recognized certification programs can define career advancement paths for security professionals of all levels. Indeed, the organization’s programs are increasingly used by employers to measure job skills and knowledge.

NICET offers 27 different certification programs, but only six of them are typically recognized as securitycentric.

In two primary categories, they are:

Fire protection: automatic sprinkler system layout, levels 1-4; fire alarm systems, levels 1-4; inspection and testing of water-based systems, levels 1-3; special hazards suppressions systems, levels 1-4.

Security systems: video security systems designer; video security systems technician.

Visit for more details. Also, be sure to read the April and May “Fire Side Chat” columns for a detailed look at NICET training certification.

Many of the trade associations also have professional certifications and designations to offer the security industry specialist. ASIS alone owns the Physical Security Professional (PSP), Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Professional Certified Investigator (PCI). The National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) offers the Certified Systems Installer (C-SI), Certified Electronics Systems Technician (C-EST) and Registered Electronic Systems Integrator (R-ESI). As of May 1, there is now a Building Security Certified Professional (BSCP). And that does not even scratch the surface.

Smart Cards, IT Are Among Latest Trends in Advanced Training

What critical training developments lie ahead for the security industry? The trend is definitely toward the new technological advancements in networking and smart cards. In many ways, the future has arrived.

Just look at smart cards. These powerful yet compact credentials are changing the way people look at everything from building access control to vending to e-commerce. The technology is incredibly advanced and cutting-edge. The Smart Card Alliance (SCA), the industry’s premier association, is leading with advanced, self-paced online programs that bring everyone in the industry up to speed with the current status of this exciting technology. As this emerging industry finds its legs and standardizes on common platforms, the SCA is there to bring them together, create common understanding and promote education to spread the knowledge across all sectors of security.

Another companion sector is the information technology growth in security.

The advent of networking in security applications is forever changing the complexion of installation and design for security and fire/life safety systems. The convergence of traditional physical security and IT has been the focus of groups such as Gompers Inc., an integrated security consulting and design firm based in Belleville, Ill.

A recent partnership with SecurityCEU. com (see sidebar on page 70), an Internet-based certification resource and continuing education training portal, allowed Jim Gompers, president of Gompers Inc., to take his Physical Security Network Administrator (PSNA) and Physical Security Network Project Manager (PSNMP) certification training program online. From basic TCP/IP to managing convergence, this training is a viable option for security pro
fessionals who find they need to stay on top of this new technology crunch.

Nobody believes that technology will stall any time soon. New advancements in mobile computing power and battery life will change the way security and fire systems are manufactured, designed and implemented. Every new advancement will see training programs developed to help everybody stay up to date and relevant in an ever-changing landscape.

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