Industry Certifications-What to Look For

When discussing certifications in the security industry the first questions to ask are what value do they hold and what differentiating factors do they provide to those that take on getting certified? One of the larger audiences today taking on the task of getting certified is the dealer and integrator community. There are three primary reasons that someone would look into getting a certification. First, there is the pure educational benefit that certifications provide. When someone makes the investment in their career and takes the time to get certified, there is a huge educational commitment that goes along with this task. It is usually safe to say that a person who is certified is generally more knowledgeable in their field.

Next, there is a perceived value from clients. Some clients today are starting to specify certain certifications in jobs, especially those that are larger or IT specific. If we become certified, our clients will perceive a greater value in the jobs we do and the services we can offer. Finally, certifications matter to the people you actually work for. You become more valuable to your employers as you gain job experience and skills, both of which are applicable to the certification process.

Certifications for networking set integrators apart today, according to Steve DeArruda, senior security system engineer, Techmark Security Integration, Rockland, Mass. “You see a lot more of this today than you did five years ago (such as Cisco Systems certification),” said DeArruda. “This is important because everything lands on the network at some point. Integrators used to work primarily with the security director but now they work more closely with the IT director on many projects, so these certifications are more important today than ever before,” he continued.

Bob Laubach, senior manager of Special Projects, Checkpoint Systems, Thorofare, N.J., said the Physical Security Network Field Technician (PSNFT) Certification played a role in their organization. “We were looking for an IT certification specific to the security industry and we found that in PSNFT. This certification provided the proof to our customers that we have a networking program going. The PSNFT certification has been of great value for Checkpoint in proving we have networking skills.”

Joy Creasy, director of Training, Tech Systems, Duluth, Ga., has always seen the value in a number of different certifications for her organization, including ASIS certifications – CPP and PSP – the SIA Project Management certification known as Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM), several professional designations from Microsoft including the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Professional certification (MCP) and the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator certification (MCDA) as well as CISCO certification. Joy said these certifications assist in convergence of IT and security.

When certifications are utilized, you can have predictability with the people that are installing products. In other words, they know what they are doing before they are pulling cables or designing systems. As a result if I am the one that has the job out for bid, I can prove some degree of understanding in the job before I get it. Many times the person getting the bid has to farm that job out to a contractor. This is often done on purely geographical decision calculations. However, the new model says the contractor qualifies based on multiple criteria and one of those criteria may be certifications as well as experience, customer feedback, geographical location, etc. But certification may be a key component of the grade you receive as a contractor.

There are several factors people use in deciding whether or not to go through the certification process. Some see it as pure profit motive each time – if they think they will benefit (get more jobs) then they will get certified. Some see it in more intrinsic values– there is a great educational value in achieving certifications so they set the professional goals and go for it. The truth is, it is most likely a combination of the two that motivate most people to seek and attain industry certifications.

Connie Moorhead is the president of The CMOOR Group and founder of based in Louisville, Ky.