Steps to Becoming a Director of Security

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A director of security has two primary functions: maintaining security department operations and managing a security workforce. The tactical expertise required includes the application of criminal code, apprehending suspects, loss prevention techniques, securing assets and handling investigations. Necessary management skills include developing departmental strategy, aligning security plans with the organizational mission and improving overall control of the company’s assets. Becoming a director of security can take years of preparation, training and experience. However, developing a strategic plan for moving into a director of security position will help you reach your goal.

Search for entry-level security guard positions with companies that have dedicated security, surveillance or loss prevention departments. Companies whose assets are most at risk are likely to have departments like these, such as employers in the gaming industry and retail chains. Include security companies in your job search as well; they have the type of organizational structure that enables career mobility and advancement.

Enroll in continuing education workshops, seminars and courses. Pursue academic credentials in criminal justice, criminology or a combination of business and criminal justice to broaden your qualifications and expertise. Acquire knowledge about security trends, an understanding of technology that supports physical and network security, and skills for policing, security and protective services.

Look for classes aimed at security professionals who aspire to become director-level experts. Focus on enhancing your tactical expertise and your understanding of management concepts. Sign up for courses that provide a well-rounded approach to security department management, such as cost control, personnel and workforce planning, weaponry, technology and leadership skills. Complement your learning with on-the-job training and practice. For example, if you are studying security workforce planning and have the opportunity, volunteer to assist your current manager with scheduling matters.

Discuss your career plans with your manager or director and ask for guidance and direction on your career path. Depending on your relationship, ask your manager if she will become your mentor. If a mentor-mentee relationship isn’t feasible, look for a high level security or loss prevention expert who has the time and interest in helping you map out a career track.

Inquire about promotional and advancement opportunities with your current employer. State your interest in moving up the career ladder and demonstrate your initiative and capabilities throughout the daily performance of your job duties. Establish your credibility and trust in relationships with coworkers, supervisors and managers. The director of security role is based in part on gaining the confidence of security officers who report to the director and peers who work with the director.

Explore career opportunities with other companies. When you discover you are limited to lateral career changes with your current employer, search for job vacancies offering increasingly responsible roles. It’s not necessary to stick with just one employer for your entire career; changing employers allows you to learn the security field from various perspectives and in different industries.

Join social networking sites and professional associations for security professionals, attend chapter meetings and seminars that expand your network and improve your knowledge of security and loss prevention techniques. Select one or two specific industries to enhance your employability and understanding of security concepts for various business models.

Maintain current certifications and credentials, including marksmanship levels. Register with local government entities, when required, for licenses pertaining to gun ownership, weapon use and private security registration. Check your state licensing boards for registration as an armed security guard or private investigator. For example, Indiana’s Professional Licensing Agency has certain criteria security guards should meet if they want to become state-licensed professionals. Research other states for licensing reciprocity to increase your chances of finding advancement opportunities outside your home state. This will ensure that you are prepared to accept virtually any security role available to you without delays caused by pre-employment registration requirements.

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