Canadian Security Magazine

What are you worth?

Jennifer Brown   

Features Opinion certifications qualifications resume

In this issue, contributor Vawn Himmelsbach explores the alphabet soup of certifications (see page 25) a security professional should have or consider adding to their resume if they haven’t already.

Going back about two years ago, I recall a security professional working in Toronto telling me that he had spent some time in British Columbia. He said that if he was to land a senior position in that province it was almost universally expected that the candidate should have their CPP just to get their resume past the first cut.
Flash forward to this year and a security professional whom I consider to be the “next generation” — holds the Physical Security Professional (PSP) certification and was also encouraged by his former boss to get his CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) because the company was getting more involved in information security. He recently left that company to join a major financial institution and says he won’t be using the CISSP there, but remains confident it will pay off down the road.

Other security professionals have gone so far as to pursue the Masters Degree in Security and Risk Management from Leicester University in the U.K., via distance education while maintaining a full-time managerial or director position and investing upwards of $20,000 to achieve it. Often this is done by those convinced that to elbow their way past the ex-RCMP officers out there, they have to distinguish themselves as worthy for senior positions.

But what are these added certifications really worth?

In last year’s ASIS International salary survey, more than half of the respondents held a professional security certification and reported compensation 18 per cent higher than those with no certification. Security professionals with a CPP designation (37 per cent of respondents) had a median compensation of US$99,400.

Those with a fraud examination certification (five per cent) reported a median income of US$126,000; the IT security certification (held by three per cent of respondents) took home a median income of US$132,600.
Of course security salaries in the U.S. are said to be “two to three times” that of Canadian compensation packages, depending on how the individual’s compensation is arrived at. In some cases, corporations offer handsome stock options plans.

Security professionals I’ve spoken with over the years who have ventured to see if the grass is greener in another pasture have often been disappointed to discover they won’t gain financially by jumping ship. They are often disappointed the organization they have applied to offers them a salary less than they are currently making. And often that number is significantly less than six figures for a senior position.

Security professionals are asked to protect the people and assets of organizations, often with limited resources and little respect. But there doesn’t seem to be a premium placed on their services — perhaps because they are still considered merely a cost centre in most organizations.

This spring Canadian Security will be launching an online salary survey in conjunction with the Canadian Society for Industrial Security (CSIS) and sponsor partner AFI International to determine not only the salary ranges in the industry of everyone from guards to CSOs, but also issues such as training and workplace conditions.

Talking salaries can be a touchy issue,  but we hope you will participate no matter what end of the salary spectrum you currently occupy. If you have a question you want added to the survey, let me know.
Jennifer Brown, Editor

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