Inside SIA’s Certified Security Project Manager Certification

July 14, 2015
Growing in popularity, the CSPM offers tangible benefits to both technicians and their companies

In June, the Security Industry Association announced that its Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) certification exam will be available worldwide through the Kryterion network of authorized testing centers — making it easier than ever to earn the credential.

The CSPM credential is rapidly becoming a “must-have” for professionals managing security projects, and it is not just for project managers. CSPM certification appeals to systems applications specialists, system engineers, security consultants, lead technicians and others seeking to use the credential to demonstrate their security project management skills and knowledge, advance their careers and maximize their earning potential. Employers are using the competency- and experience-based CSPM credential to help with hiring, deployment and promotional decisions; and, in greater numbers, specifiers are including CSPMs on lists of required personnel on RFPs.  

Frances Reda, CSPM, a business analyst with the University of California at San Diego, recently reported being contacted by a consultant from Sacramento looking for a CSPM for a billion-dollar company. “I asked him how he got my contact information and he said he researched the SIA website to find CSPMs in San Diego,” she says.

What Makes CSPM Unique

What sets the CSPM certification apart from other project management certifications is its focus on industry-specific knowledge; in fact, more than one-fourth of the CSPM exam tests security-specific industry knowledge. In building this credential, the CSPM Scheme Committee — which is comprised of experienced and highly qualified security project management professionals working in various industry practice settings — thought it was imperative that this credential give employers the confidence that, in hiring a CSPM, they are hiring a professional who can manage the particulars and complexities of security projects. That was a minimum requirement.

Eligible candidates must possess at least 6,000 hours of project management experience  —which equates to approximately three years — of which at least half of those hours must be related to security projects.  ​

The examination comprises 125 items, and test-takers are given two hours to complete it. It is based on the following six domains: 

  • Security industry-specific knowledge and initiation;​
  • Planning;
  • Execution;
  • Monitoring;
  • Project closing; and
  • Management skills.​

Benefits for Employees and their Companies

Recognizing the benefits of promoting the certification of their personnel to their customers, companies are incentivizing their employees through promotions, bonuses and salary adjustments to earn the CSPM credential. A 2014 SIA survey of CSPMs found that 70 percent of respondents reported receiving a promotion as a result of earning the CSPM credential, and 46 percent received a raise.

“We have put an incentive together for people getting the certification,” says Chris Peckham, senior vice president and CTO of Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions. “We’re giving them a one-time $500 bonus, and we are also giving them a salary increase once they get the certification.”

According to Eric Yunag, president and CEO of Dakota Security Systems, the CSPM certification provides a competitive advantage that has prompted the company to invest more in security project management training and certification. “This is one of the things that we promote actively to our clients and end-users as a differentiator for us,” Yunag says. “We very much make a big deal out of it with our customers, with our advertising and, particularly, in competitive bidding situations to articulate why we have invested in those kinds of things.”

CSPM candidates can get started by downloading the CSPM Candidate Information Brochure (CIB) to assess eligibility requirements, review the exam blueprint, identify study references and complete the application. It is available at

Arminda Valles-Hall is Director of Education & Training for the Security Industry Association (SIA). For more information on the CSPM program, contact her at (301) 804-4707 or via email at [email protected].