Whether it’s necessary to gain a promotion, maintain a security-related (and hard-earned) certification, finish a college or university degree program, or continue to demonstrate competence in their particular fields or industries, security professionals must go to live programs or take security education online courses on an ongoing basis.
Even longtime security professionals with a wide variety of job titles, experiences, and different industries under their belts must keep their skills updated. “Sharpen the saw,” is what the late bestselling author Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Free Press, 1989) used to call the need for continuing education. The good news is that these opportunities for continuous learning are plentiful—either through attending live training programs, signing on to online courses or webinars, reading new books and articles, or keeping track of important security-related stories on the Internet. The bad news is that these efforts at self-education take time, effort and, sometimes, money from your own pocket if your employer won’t pay for educational and developmental programs on your behalf. It can take a bit of discipline and initiative to schedule yourself into trainings, webinars, or to make the time to read books or articles and learn online while having to handle the myriad other security, supervisory, management, or travel details that are a part for your daily job.
Not only do your continuing education efforts serve to notify your boss and your employer that you’re a serious security professional but also these additional knowledge accomplishments help build your résumé for future positions—inside your own firm or at another. After a long career in the military or law enforcement, some security directors or managers can have a noticeable tendency to “retire on duty.” They ask out loud, “Is this training program I’ve been signed up for mandatory or voluntary? Because I have a lot of work to do.” This is the wrong attitude.
If your organization offers the benefit of tuition and materials reimbursement for security-related certifications and exams, college courses, finishing your degree, or getting an advanced degree, you should take advantage of this asset before it’s too late. In tight budget years, tuition reimbursement is one of the first “luxury” items on the chopping block, so it makes sense to enroll now and start the process.
National ASIS training programs, including the annual conference, and local ASIS chapters offer some of the best opportunities not only to learn from peers and experts but also to network with other like-minded security professionals. You can create a useful database of go-to colleagues who can help you solve specific security problems outside your area of expertise. These same colleagues whom you meet at trainings could serve as future coworkers at your organization or as a useful resource for your next career move.
If knowledge is power, the more you know about what you do and how to do it better will certainly improve your promotability, your standing in the eyes of your bosses and peers, and your future career choices. Make the necessary time for security, leadership, management, and supervisory training opportunities.