Salary survey results: training remains top concern
Lack of training and career opportunities are among the chief concerns of security professionals, according to a poll recently conducted by Canadian Security magazine.
The Canadian Security Salary Survey, sponsored by the Canadian Society for Industrial Security Inc. (CSIS), was conducted between March and May of this
year and garnered responses from 350 security professionals coast to
The most common salary band for full time security workers (15.2 per
cent of responses) is $60,000 to $70,000, followed by $50,000 to
$60,000 (13.5 per cent) and $70,000 to $80,000 (13.2 per cent). Eleven
per cent of full time respondents make more than $100,000 annually. Ten
per cent of full time respondents said they make less than $30,000 a
year. For part-time, occasional and seasonal workers, 39 per cent make
less than $30,000 a year, 22.2 make $30,000 to $40,000, and the
remainder make between $40,000 and $80,000.
When asked what their biggest occupational safety concern is, 52.7 per
cent of respondents said training. (The second biggest concern was
contagious disease at 41.8 per cent.)
Lack of training is a persistent problem in the security profession,
says Brian Robertson, president of Diligent Security Training and
Consulting Inc., particularly at the guard and junior management levels
of security. The biggest impediments, he says, are cost and time.
It’s hard to make a case for training expenditure, he says,
particularly when 2009 budgets are already feeling the pressure due to
the economic downturn. And, particularly for guards who work on an
hourly or part time basis, training can be difficult to schedule.
“There is always some element of perception that training is a cost
centre, not a revenue centre,” he says, adding that there is a
temptation to cut training costs to save money in the short term rather
than look at the big picture and consider training an investment in the
There is also a general perception that training may only encourage an
employee to leave. With improved skills, that person could look for a
higher paying job at a different, possibly rival, company.
“They say, ”˜I’m not going to spend money on training people who won’t
stick around,’” says Robertson. “But of course, not having the training
makes the employment experience less pleasant for the person, so that
contributes to the fact that the person decides they don’t like it here
and they leave. So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many of us
have tended to find it hard to break out of that cycle.
“It takes a lot of courage to say, ”˜I’m going to invest in more training to try to get the turnover cycle to slow down.’”
Associations like ASIS are also confronted with the training issue,
particularly as it relates to certifying security professionals.
Patrick Ogilvie, president of the Toronto chapter of ASIS wasn’t
surprised that 64 per cent of survey respondents say they do not have
some kind of security designation or certification. “I thought it would
be higher,” he says.
ASIS administers the Certified Protection Professional certification
for its members. The ASIS website claims that almost 10,000 security
professionals hold the designation worldwide, but Ogilvie, himself a
CPP holder, says that number could be higher. The main impediments are
— as with other forms of security training — time and cost.
“Maybe it’s overwhelming. Maybe it’s simply a lack of understanding of
the time commitment and the immense amount of material that
certification exams are drawn from. It’s absolutely massive. But that’s
what provides credibility to the program, in my opinion,” says Ogilvie.
“Just the course alone is 24 hours, but they could easily put in 100
hours of reading even before setting foot into a review class.”
Ogilvie says that of the people who sign up for certification training
and take the review classes, only 20 per cent actually write the
certification test. Of those who take the test, about half pass.
Robertson says bodies like ASIS are having trouble drumming up interest
in certifications like CPP because there’s a perception in the industry
that it’s possible to succeed without one.
But, according to Robertson, the security career ladder is structured
such that a lot of people advance by going through pre-determined
stages: security officer to security supervisor to security manager to
security director. Other people enter the higher echelons of security
as retired police officers. In both cases, certification is seen as a
could-have rather than a must-have.
“If doing well in your job as a security manager will either secure
your job or secure you the positive reference that would allow you to
move to another job in security management, what need have you for
certification?” says Robertson.
But certification can have a positive impact on earnings potential,
argues Ogilvie. “I think it’s just a lack of knowledge of what the
certification is about or the assumption that industry experience
qualifies as a level of certification. We’re seeing a lot of job
postings asking for professional certifications and designations. With
those skillsets comes financial remuneration, of course.”
According to the survey, of the people who don’t currently hold a
designation, 44.3 per cent said they intend to obtain in the future. Of
those people, 70 per cent said they would pursue a CPP.
“I think that’s because ASIS has done a very good marketing job,” says Ogilvie. “CPP has been around for 30 years.”
Ogilvie added that ASIS is also trying to increase interest in CPP by offering an additional review class.
The training outlook is less bleak than the survey results might
suggest, says Robertson, and is actually on an upward trend rather than
on the way down. The poor economy may help to explain why training
budgets may be tighter this year than last, but overall, security
professionals can probably expect more opportunities now than in years
Training is still an “awfully attractive thing to cut” from a budget,
he says, but fewer companies are willing to accept the risks that come
with reduced security training. One major reason for that is that risk
management, disaster management and security management are beginning
“More and more people see security as a risk management function. It’s
easier for organizations to say, If we’re going to manage that risk,
we’re going to have to spend the money on (training),” he says.
“Employers and clients are growing so sick of the consequences of
having inadequately trained people that I think that there is a growing
sense in the industry among managers that they are more and more
prepared to say, If I thought I could be confident that I could get a
better employee out of it, I would actually be willing to spend money
Despite their concerns about training and career advancement, 88 per
cent of survey respondents felt that they currently have enough
training to perform their current responsibilities. More than 85 per
cent of respondents said they would be willing to use their own
personal time to obtain training.
Respondents were also generally positive about the security industry.
Almost 80 per cent said they would recommend a career in security to a
friend. That number increased to 85.6 per cent for respondents who
currently hold some type of security designation. Write-in responses as
to why they would recommend security include:
”¢ “Will always be a need for it. There are many routes to take. And
advancement opportunities are there for those who are prepared to work
”¢ “I feel it can be a very rewarding career. People can often use
previous experience, for example retail, and apply it to a career in
”¢ “It’s a field that keeps expanding, in opportunities, education, training, and challenges.”
Reasons for why respondents would not recommend security as a career include:
”¢ “Starting salaries are far too difficult to live from, and not enough opportunities to advance.”
”¢ “Too much 24/7.”
”¢ “Too many headaches.”