An Opportunity for Security Integrators to RISE

March 13, 2015
How SIA is working to attract the best and brightest young minds to the security industry

Security Industry Association (SIA) members have regularly shared with me the challenges most impacting industry growth and innovation — including complex regulatory requirements, the lack of reliable market research, and accelerating convergence between IT and physical security technologies — all occurring with an environment shaped by the potential impact of the Internet of Everything and the persistent threat of cyber-attacks on IP-enabled security networks. Many SIA integrator members have expressed that identifying truly qualified individuals to work on networked security projects is the most serious issue faced by their businesses.

SIA is implementing several initiatives to further promote entry into the security industry as rewarding career path for tech-savvy high school students and recent college graduates and create a future pool of highly qualified, next-generation security leaders.

 Other industries should be commended for the job they have done to promote to Generation Y the exciting work opportunities within their sectors. According to a recent article on, the “Top Ten Industries to Work In” are: (1) healthcare; (2) employment and recruitment specialists; (3) computer systems design; (4) software publishing/database administrators; (5) arts, entertainment, and recreation; (6) transportation and warehousing; (7) real estate; (8) finance; (9) the public sector; and (10) construction. But where is physical security in this list and the profession behind it that protects our global population and every piece of critical infrastructure used by this massive citizenry each day?

Collectively, there is a tremendous amount that industry organizations do to help young professionals succeed within our industry; however, SIA believes that there is so much more that should be done to make network-based security integration positions more appealing to college students —and to make positions with security integrators just as appealing to students who may otherwise contemplate careers in healthcare, entertainment, or with Silicon Valley firms.

This industry-wide campaign to attract the next generation of security leaders starts with partnerships with academia and by jointly reaching students at a high school level and driving them toward emerging industry programs at our nation’s IT-capable colleges and universities.

Inside SIA’s New Degree Program

This fall, SIA and Mercer County Community College (MCCC) are expected to launch a pilot program at Mercer’s campus in Trenton, N.J., to provide students with both classroom and practical, laboratory experience in several disciplines that could lead to an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Security Systems and Technologies. This SIA-Mercer program is intended to serve as a model for community colleges nationwide and meet the critical need for highly skilled project managers, systems technicians and salespeople described by so many security integrators.

More specifically, the degree program will provide students with a for-credit curriculum consisting of courses in liberal arts disciplines including, but not limited to, communications, the business environment, accounting and management. Students enrolled in the program will receive technical foundation courses in standalone and networked computer hardware, software and operating systems; along with fundamental courses in electronics, wiring, cabling, fiber optics, security sales and security project management.

This degree program will prepare students for jobs that support the selling, installation and management, and technical support of physical security systems and industry standard networked-based technologies including but not limited to IP-based and fiber optic technologies. SIA believes this degree program could serve as a model for community college institutions nationwide and increase the number of highly-skilled professionals entering the security field.

The Core Courses

Eligible students will participate in SIA-developed core courses in security product technologies, security technology support, security project management and security sales. Here are some of the specifics:

Systems Integration: A Business Blueprint is an introductory course on security systems integration, which combines various elements including, but not limited to, equipment, engineering and service to create a working system designed and deployed to meet a client need or solve a client problem. Students will learn how to build a systems integration business that maximizes current sales and creates sustainable sales growth by leveraging all aspects of the sales process, analyzing the attributes of products and services, assessing customer needs, and aligning organizational strategy to leverage the most powerful features and strengths of products and services.

Security Project Management: This introductory course provides a framework for the role of the security project manager by interpreting the practical aspects of designing and managing security projects. It requires prospective project managers to demonstrate their proficiency on the concepts and tools of professional project management. Experienced managers know how to manage costs and ensure the quality and control of all aspects of projects throughout every area of the project lifecycle. They should have a fundamental understanding of factors affecting their projects such as stakeholder influence, cash flow and risk management.

Physical Security Product Technologies: The ever-evolving physical security industry is constantly developing new security products and technologies which will satisfy the needs of end-user customers. These technologies help reduce operating costs and move security from a cost center to one that delivers a return on investment. There are many drivers leading this transformation, including the shift from analog to IP video; video surveillance and situational awareness, including analytics; and physical security information management (PSIM). By knowing how these technologies operate and integrate, students will gain an understanding of the necessity for keeping assets (people and products) safe around the world.

Security Sales: The Consultative Approach is an introductory course on the sales process with a focus on security solutions. Students will learn how to organize the sales effort; assess customer needs, present security solutions; organize internal and external constituencies to develop, design and implement security systems solutions; assess return on security investment; manage the customer experience; and maintain consultative and profitable relationships with customer.

RISE: Reaching Generation Y

The development of the SIA-Mercer County Community College program compliments a larger effort by SIA to reach Generation Y. SIA is developing an aggressive outreach program to students known as “RISE: today’s rising stars, tomorrow’s security leaders” to help promote our industry to high school and college students and recent graduates.

We hope that security integrators that share our vision for attracting the best and brightest of Generation Y to our industry will actively lend their expertise to this program that is built around the following tactical objectives:

  1. Position SIA as a clearing house for internship opportunities within the industry.
  2. Target webinars for high school and college guidance counselors to educate them about our industry so that they may advise students about the relevant career-path initiatives that exist for them.
  3. Develop a guide that provides direction and information about the common places students can find information about employment with the security industry.
  4. Create a coordinated effort of volunteer members who would serve as “ambassadors” to this student community on behalf of the industry
  5. Help coordinate efforts with other associations and organizations and support related projects.

Security integrators are among the most innovative businesses in the world. And they have it exactly right. Our industry needs to RISE to the challenge of reaching tomorrow’s security leaders today!

Don Erickson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Security Industry Association (