Getting Started in Executive Protection

How to gain experience through non-conventional avenues.

Source: EP Women

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You’ve got your training what now? You get your first phone call for work and the person on the other end says “tell me about your background?” If your answer includes former law enforcement or military you’ve probably been moved to the top of the pile. If you can’t include these “golden” words in describing your history how can you compete? How do you gain experience when you’re passed over because you have no experience?

Perhaps you will be one of the lucky few who has the job of a lifetime fall into your lap and this will be a dilemma that you will never have to face. For those of us who are less fortunate I posed the question of how does a person gain the necessary credentials to be considered for executive protection positions to several executive protection company owners. Most agreed that having some sort of formal training is a plus but that actually being able to show that you can effectively apply what you’ve learned to real world situations was what they were looking for.

Consider taking positions with companies that may not offer an executive protection agent job but will help you in achieving your ultimate goal. A company with a uniform division could help give you an entrance into the private security industry. Working loss prevention for retail stores was also a suggestion that was given to help an individual learn more about the business. If you have a specific corporation with an executive protection division that you think you would like to work for but they tell you to come back when you have a little experience, consider looking into working as an executive assistant to one of the officers of the corporation.

One of the most important aspects of working in this industry is your reputation. You should always guard your reputation as it is the one thing that can make you or break you in this industry. The more you are willing to do to better yourself and to show that you are the person that can get the job done no matter how big or small, whether it’s as uniformed security, loss prevention officer, tactical officer for a labor dispute or as the highly sought after executive protection agent, the farther you will go in this business. Become an asset in any position and not detriment.

  • Mike

    Hucky, You are dead on with your tips. My suggestion for all of you newbies is to NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK. Those contacts you made at training can open up so many job opportunities. I was fortunate enough to land a detail after training at ESI. Those don’t last forever though. Sometimes you have to take the crappy uniformed job. Maybe diversify yourself in the Private Investigations field. I do investigations when I can’t get E.P. work. It has opened many E.P. details up. You can market yourself as a countersurveillance specialist. There are several companies that specialize in Labor disputes. Vance International. Security Assurance Management. Seventrees Corporation. Huffmaster Crisis Response to name a few. I have worked for some of those companies as an EP Agent. The guys I usually worked with started on the Strike Line as a Tactical Officer and then crossed over. Do whatever job that is related to the EP industry and learn from it. And do it right. Like Hucky said Reputation is Everything. The EP industry is such a small industry (even though everyone and there mother is trying to get into the field) that if you start making a bad name for yourself, you might as well change occupations.

  • http://www.industry-icon.com Elijah Shaw

    Excellent article and I agree 100% Getting in this industry is tough. Staying in (and making a living) is even tougher. Your reputation goes a long way but that means more than just being known as a guy who “knows the job and does it well”, you should also not make the mistake that some of us fall into of judging others negatively. A lot of times when I interview someone two things push them to the bottom of my list 1. Starting the conversaton off with which guns they own and how well they shoot and 2. Dogging another member of the Protecton Industry. Bush and Clinton dont have any love lost, but they still treat each other with respect in formal settings, and we should do the same.

    Elijah J. Shaw
    CEO
    Icon Services Corporation
    – Providing Personal Security Services Internationally –
    http://www.Industry-Icon.com

    http://www.BodyguardBlog.com
    An Insiders Blog to the Bodyguard Industry.

  • David

    YOu are correct. But what if you do? Then what the last 20 years as a guard and 10 of those as a bodyguard with schooling amongst other things and nothing happens? I along with 20 other people were left in the cold by a company out of Madera Ca. after 9/11. Then what I have to hussle , Then I have to look and hop[e to find something resembling work. My reputaion is fine but because the law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles area have pretty much cornered the market, I can’t find a decent enough assignment. You have a job openning post in Glendale Ca. I applied twice but I have yet to hear from them and they want Law Enforcement……No disrespect to them but I have seen my share of mistakes made by them. And yes I am an student of E.S.I.

  • David

    I am trying to get started in this field. I agree it is hard ! I come with a 5 year uniformed security and plain clothes security background,2 years Loss Prevention. Also I own my own priviate security company now. Trying to get started is hard to do. So I will have to try the networking avanue. Sounds like a great idea !

    Thanks !

  • http://www.myspace.com/thebigdjcoco Mr. C.L. Smith

    I do agree that getting into the business of personal protection is very hard. But, you must always do your job because you never know who’s watching. So even if you are just a security guard, patrol man, airport security, club security or a bouncer do your job to the fullest, and you will be recognized.

  • John C. Garcia

    Hucky,
    Your on point. However, it’s very hard to get selected as a body guard, without PPI etc…credentials. I have worked in the Hospitality, Banking & Commercial security industries. I have excell in my craft as a Security Officer, Security Supervisor, Security Training Coordinator. However, I never net work in the body guard arena and I would love to provide such a service for VIP’s. Unfortunately the opportunity have not come my way.

  • Lucky Duck

    It is all about who you know and who nows you. Personal reputation will make or break you. I had very little interest in the field and was going about my everyday life when my cell rang. It was a former supervisor in an unrelated field. When someone says “you are the man for this mission” it definately strokes your ego momentarily. Prior military will go a LONG way in this field. To make a long story short…..I have never attended an “EP” school. Not to say it isn’t necessary……continuous training IS necessary. My first job was for a very well known, deceased, civil rights leaders family member and international public speaker and there hasn’t been a dull moment since. My advice would be that if you have the connections….USE THEM. You never know what will land in your lap!

  • Carlos Amaya

    for those who are new to the Protective Services Field I have this tip;
    Diversify! meaning – get whatever gig that is related to Security Guard, Bouncer/Doorman, Bodyguard, Loss Prevention, P.I./Surveyllance to gain the experience, notice that I included Bodyguard on this list because you can still get an Exec or VIP Protection detail if you show that you can get the job done!
    Also don’t neglect training, many people in this field take the training that will qualify them as Security Guards and then stop training, you should continue getting additional training, specially new training to make yourself more marketable which includes- how to market the skills you have!
    In this diversification process you should consider going into related fields such as and for example: If you have knowledge of or are a Martial Arts expert, you should teach Martisl Arts, become a PPO and / or offer security training, which might include Bodyguard training.
    Working for a PPO is fine but you should also look to get hire by a company that has its own private security personnel.
    I know that it sounds cool when you tell your family and friends tha you are a Bodyguard, just don’t get caught up in that small area, you should think and look at the whole picture and the whole picture is PROTECTIVE SERVICES, this picture is very big, if you have not taken a good look at it I invite you to do so!!

    Thank You and Keep them Safe!!

  • TLCLEM

    THE SAD THING IS I HAVE NEVER SEEN A COP STOP A CRIME. I HAVE BEEN DOING CLUB SECURITY FOR OVER 10 YEARS AND NOT ONCE DID I SEE A COP UNTIL WE CALLED THEM TO P/U THE PERSON WHO TRIED TO ROB, STAB, JUMP OR COMET SOME OTHER CRIME AFTER WE STOP THE CRIME AND HAVE THEM IN CUFFS THATS WHEN WE SEE THE COPS.. (A FRIEND OF MINE WHO IS A EP AGENT) AND WHO ALSO GAVE ME SOME TRAINING TOLD THIS AND LIVE BY IT TO THIS DAY YOU HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE AND NOT REACTIVE. EPA’S, BOUNCERS ARE PROACTIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT IS REACTIVE.. I STILL HAVE THAT GUT FEELING,WHEN YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN A CROWD OF PEOPLE 700 TO 1000 PEOPLE DEEP I CAN STILL PICK OUT THE FEW HOW WILL TRY TO START SOMETHING. HELL I CAN TELL WHO HAS A WEAPON OUT SIDE. BUT I STILL GET PASSED UP FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT.. OH WELL THATS LIFE

  • Leroy

    I do not come from a military background and I can tell you I have spent a fortune on training which anyone can do to get to a key level and to be honest with you – some ex military people will play on the “I am exmilitary” but forget to tell you they were in catering or logistics for 10 years and only held a rifle in basic and annual qualifications. This does not discount those who trained for war or hostilities or were active serving o/seas, but it just shows you the perception of the industry.

    Now in LE, you have some people who pound the pavement for years issuing infringements and responding to school issues – yes this is about recognising issues BEFORE they escalate and knowing venues, etc but don’t write off someone who can come from a background that can adapt to almost any scenario through training and aptitude. I have worked with 3 industries – ex military, ex LE and others like me who all built up a strong reporte ready to work again shortly.

    The Hollywood scenario of protecting your VIP with a .38 special whilst he is covered by your 400lb body is all bogus. If you have had to draw your weapon (often not having 1) you have failed. Getting that principal away and safe is your priority not taking on the 40 Ninjas who attack you only 1 at a time.

  • JIMMY

    IV GOT TO SAY WITH ALL THESE BODYGUARD SCHOOL OUT THERE MAKEING CLAIMS.FOR WHAT, JUST TO GET YOUR DOLLARS.I TREID TO GET INTO ESI.WITH TOO AGENTS,AND ALL I GOT WAS EMPTY PROMISES,ONE TOLD ME THEY WOULD HIRE ME AND TRAIN ME.I BOUGHT THE LINE AND THE ONLY THING I HAVE FOR IT IS A CD FORM OMIN AND A CERTIFICATE,,THEY EVEN TOLD ME THEY WOULD SIT ME UP WITH MY OWN WEB ADDRESS.AND I STILL HAVENT SEEN THE WEB ADDRESS.AND EVERY TIME I WOULD EMAIL TO FIND WHAT GOING ON ALL I GET WAS I WAS MAKEING THREATS.AND I GOT A SAY THE NAME ITS SAMURAI WARRIOR.THE OTHER AGENT SADI THEY WOULD FIND A COMPANY THAT WOULD PAY FOR MY TRAINING AND THATS BEEN 2 YRS AGO.BUT I STILL WANT TO GET INTO THIS CAREER,BUT HOW NO EXPERIENCE NO ONE IS WILL TO REALY TRAIN AND HELP FIND CLIENTS,AND AGAIN MABE ALL THIS BODYGUARD ARE ESI IS NOTHING BUT AWAY TO GET UP MONEY AND RUN

  • Jack

    Learn how to speak english and articulate yourself properely and maybe someone will give you a chance but if you rant and rave like a monley then forget it. Being and EP requires restraint and pure professionalism and an an excellent command of english in the western world.

    Take a look at yourself first.

  • Wolf

    Hucky,
    I have read plenty of comments on your site. I am listed to go to class with ESI in August and am looking for plenty of feedback on the company. I have read the favorable articles published from magazines and they are good. However, I have not seen anything current on the company. I have talked to a couple people at the company and they seem knowledgable and do give a warm feeling, but I am still looking for an outside prespective.

    Thank you

  • Hucky

    Wolf
    Here’s my .02 on ESI solid school one of the best. But with any school make sure you do your homework, cost and curriculum will always play a major part with most individuals. And remember NOBODY can guarantee you employment after training. You cannot “buy” your way into this business by paying a business thousands and thousands of dollars for training.

  • Haminc

    This business is tough. I actually lucked into it through a friend a few years back, and I have a few years of combat experience from the military. I may work 3-6 months out of the year at times. That is just the name of the game in this type of career. Even as such I manage to make a substantial income and have learned to budget for the not so good times, of unemployment. With most of the work being private/self contract there is no unemployment comp, so you make do with what you can get. All the training and networking doesn’t help during hard economic times such as were having now. Outside of certain government contracts, EP’s and security are a luxury during recessed economic times.

  • Mr. Philbrick – Ontario, Canada

    I started working uniformed guard service about 4 years ago in a downtown Hospital. I enjoyed the challenges the job presented. I decided that I wasn’t interested in Policing and that I wanted to persue a career in Executive Protection and Intelligence Security.

    So I enrolled at E.S.I. and have enjoyed the course thouroghly so far. While preforming uniform guard services at high profile special events I’ve worked with government Executive Protection Agents from the RCMP and OPP. I have found that they were very impressed with my in dpeth knowledge and my ability to apply it.

    But training at a school even as good as ESI is only a drop in the bucket. I’ve been a competitive Mixed Martial Artist my whole life, so I decied to get away from traditional arts such as Muay Thai and BJJ. For the purposes of my career I started training Russian Systema and Israeli Krav Maga. I’ve also went out and bought over 50 pylons and practiced my Protective Driving techniques on a regular basis. You’d be surprised how fatigued your forearms can become from ducking down while driving backwards through a driving course is. I’ve also sought out other driving opportunities, such as driving cars on a an Off Road/Rally course. I’ve taken up studying auto-mechanics, joined a car club and taken up the hobby of car modification. I’ve also read “Sun Tzu’s – Art of War” more times than I can count, I’ve also read every other book I can find on the Intelligence Community, Terrorism, History of Religion, Statecraft, Political Science and so on.

    I’ve also built up a nice wardrobe of black suits and white whirts, learned how to iron well, studied corporate culture and learned the meaning of deportment.

    I’ve also played on a professional Paintball team in major tournaments and we’ve consitently won first place. You’d be surprised how many teams of Military Special Forces and Law Enforcement Tactical Response Units play paintbal professionally. When your competing against guys like this for a purse of 5000 dollars or more, it’s no longer a game, it’s very f’ing serious. You have to be able to exercise precise team work, move and shoot under lots of pressure. It’s so funny how mad they get when they loose to civilians. ;)

    Yet because I don’t have Military or Law Enforement experience I get completely overlooked all the time when I apply for EP postitions. Most of my training is informal and can’t be put neatly on a resume with a certificate to back it up, but it doesn’t mean I am any less qualified. It also doesn’t help that I’m in Canada and this work is few and far between here.

    So after slaving my butt off for four years in uniformed security to build a proffesional reputation, enrolling in a recognised EP training course, and using all my free time for endless pursuits that apply to Executive Protection. I have finally landed my first job on an Executive Protection detail back in June.

    I love this work as much as i thought I would. It’s really an amazing job. I especially like driving the six-figure vehicles. I’ve also been praised for my impeccable Advance Work.

    I had to sacrifice a lot just to get to this point. Even though the contract will likely expire in October and I may have to go back to uniformed guard work for a while. It’s all been worth it.

    I know it’s a long post, but I think it serves as a good example of a civilians path to get their first break in Executive Protection.

  • http://www.iaepa.com Prof. L.C. Holifield

    The world of executive protection is not one-dimensional, but multi-faceted. By this I meannto be successful in this business, you must first have the desire, discipline and self confidence, second you must get specialized training in executive protection from a recognized EP school or training academy. Prior military or law enforcement experience is icing on the cake, but is not neccessary. Let me sat that again, prior law enforcement or military experience is not neccessary. It is looked upon favorably, not only by a perspective employer, but by this country as a whole. Third, you must prove that you are competent and able to do the job. You will hear this over and over again ” in this business, it is vital to network with other agents in the field” Networking and your reputation is the key to landing details in this business. It’s not always what you know – but who you know in this business, that gets you work. That being said, you should get to know as many agents as possible and establish close ties with them. They will serve you well in the future. As a former graduate and staff instructor for ESI, I have had the opportunity to train at one of the country’s top EP schools and establish contacts in this business that have served me well through the years. Networking cannot be overstated. In closing, my advice to anyone entering the field of executive protection is for you to get the proper specialized training from a reputable EP school and instructor, always be and look professional, get to know others in the field by networking via internet, attending EP seminars, conferences (ASIS) and EP training courses, and build a solid reputation in the EP community.

  • Ark D. Thompson

    This is one good path i can reccomend to anyone that does not possess LE or Military background exp, etc. Start of by getting your basic security guard license and handgun license, or if you already have your security guard licenses and/or experience, get hired at a security guard company that also provied EP, Witness Protection, Etc work. You will start by doing regulard uniformed guard work, but do the job with absolute precision, etc. Whilst working uniformed, save up some cash and take a few training courses in Ep, etc. The ones that helped me out were the, Executive protection, Counter Terrorism driver and bushmaster carbine operator courses from BlackWater USA. I bought couple of suits, a secondary small handgun, a shotgun and a cheap m4-carbine. Then i went to my company that i worked security for, and they started me off doing ep work. From there on, i easily moved to other companies that do similar work, and so forth. Starting on your own is nearly impossible, start with a company that provides ep work, you can start small, security guard and build up from there.

  • J Tomberg

    Networking is key if you are not prior military or police. Because of networking I Got the opportunity of a life time to go from working as a regular PI and uniformed guard to step up into the big time in a big way. Now i have a regular seasonal Job doing close protection for a family.

    Networking Is why. It doesn’t matter what you think of some one or how annoying they might be. At the end of the day this is a word of mouth profession for opportunities.

  • Hunter

    From what I’ve read networking is key. As someone who is looking to get started in this career, what are the top 3 schools to get E.P. training on? and why?

  • B Darin

    Can any body tell me about ETI/PSU Corp(phoenix state university). They offered a body guard course,recieved a diploma they say is accredited.Also that I will be excluded from any upcoming gun bills,if passed.Is this bs or what.THANKS TO ALL THAT RESPOND. I would like to work in this field properly.Not just some chump with a carry permit ,cool sunglasses and a ear piece,that thinks he knows what he’s doing

  • Hucky

    Hunter,
    The classes of Duggan Oatman and Kobetz are top notch. All three schools teach the fine requirements for corporate security protection. I would recommend either. What you need to do is decide what type of security you want to perform. If it is only corporate security in a low risk environment such as the US, then Duggan Oatman and Kobetz would be a great choice. If you want to move to higher risk environments, out side US, then I would suggest Blackwater or Trojan Securities International. I haven’t been through their EP course, but their other courses are top notch. I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to recommend any of them as a good training source.

    Remember there is more to being a Executive Protection Specialist than pushing people out of the way or having a weapons permit. Having the proper skills means that when an opportunity does open up, you’ll be the right man or woman for the job.

    I look forward to sharing in your success–I know you will find, as I have, that you are on a career path that is both interesting and profitable.
    Sincerely,
    Hucky

  • Hucky

    B Darin
    I don’t have any information on ETI/PSU Corp(phoenix state university)
    If you’re not already a member of “Tactical Forums” I would highly recommend it. You can usually find answers to most questions that you may have. Here’s the link to the site http://www.tacticalforums.com/cgi-bin/tacticalubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=forum;f=51

    Hucky

  • P. Swanson

    Wow, thanks for this website.

    I am debating going into EP also. I’m an X-Ranger but figured knowing how to do mission planning for ambush and recon patrols and being able to fire and field strip a M60 MG isn’t going to help me much. Plus I’m 52 years old now.

    After I read up on Mr. Holifield and all his experience and qualifications I couldn’t help but think to myself why would someone hire me fresh outa some EP school. Even though I’m still in good shape and have great endurance. And I’ve also had lots of experience communcating to successful wealthy people from when I sold residential security systems for Honeywell in the well-to-do neighborhoods of Minnepolis.

    It hit me yesterday when I was this close to giving my credit card number to EPI (Kobetz) and charging up $3500 for the basic PPS course. Even though I know this is right up my alley and haven’t slept much because I thought I finally found my dream career. I started to wonder if there’s 40 people already signed up and I’ll bet most of them are younger and have Law Enforcement backgrounds what are my chances?

    I would greatly appreciate some advice from someone like Mr. Holifield or Hucky with experience who obviously dosen’t have any conflict of interest involved and just wants to sell me thousands of dollars in training. Please advise…………….

  • Gary P.Peters

    Hey Huck,
    You are spot on 100%, as are all the other contributors, unless you can get in on a ground level opportunity it is very hard to start a rewarding career in this business, Ive seen many people apply for the job as BG, CPO, ect, but only a small selected few actually get on, and then like you said they have to apply themselfs and proof not only to the client but to the employer that they are worthy of this position.
    Executive Protection courses are a must, I know they are expensive but they will pay off in the end, you gotta network, network, and more network with peers and contacts.
    as for Mr. P Swanson, your age should not factor much, if your fit, and look after yourself, know your job and how top do it, there is a place for you somewhere, life experience enhances your performance a great deal when it comes down to dealing with the client. just keep on trying.
    We hold our own course here for our employees, and also for anyone who is thinking of getting into this line of work, but it is only an introduction, basics on how to move a principle, advance work ect, but at least it is something before you get out there
    Best of luck to all and Stay Safe.
    Gary

  • P. Swanson

    First off, please excuse my typo spelling the city I was born in.

    Thanks for the good advice Gary. I appreciate all the input from you and all the people in the industry that are certainly more of an authority than I am. I’ve spoke with many veterans in the industry now and I’ve been nothing but impressed with everyones attitude and willingness to help me. A special thanks to Harlan who actually took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me for almost an hour and gave me some invaluable advice and direction.

    P. Swanson

  • A. Channelle

    I have been doing security(uniformed side)for about 6 years off and on and I am thinking about going to the next level (Close protection)now that I am done with college.

    Thanks for the informative tips.

  • Twins Muay Thai

    I dun recall how I got here LOL but cool blog ;)

  • http://www.raveready.com RaveClothing

    Thanks for the good read! I dont have much to do sitting here wasting time at work and this kept me entertained for a little bit.

  • http://www.ustraining.com/new/courses.asp Josh Kinney

    Yeah LE can’t stop crimes unless they just happen to drive by and see them. I know this because I have been in LE for 3 years now. The only crime I have ever stopped was when I was OFF DUTY and some dumb ass tried to hold up a convenient store. Anyone want to hire a real professional? I took courses in Executive Protection and high security operations from BLACKWATER XE and they are phenomenal instructors. All former Special Forces and Navy Seals. The have decent prices for their courses too! Well worth your time and money. A lot of people know who they are whether they like them or not they know the caliber of training you have had and you get a badass certificate of completeion that looks good hanging on your business wall! The link I provided has a list of all of BLACKWATER XE’s training courses. ENJOY!!!

  • http://www.538.com.au Karl Thornton

    I agree with many of the issues covered in this article. I know through my experience that yes you need to be proficient in so many areas to be successful in Executive Protection. You do need to build a portfolio of diverse assignments, you do need up to date training, you do need the physical and mental skills of a professional, and you do need to network.

    As one of Australia’s Elite Executive Protection Specialists for 538 Pty Ltd, we run in house training for upcoming EPS operatives that focus on areas needed to professionally deliver the services our clients require.

    Yes we train in all other areas discussed in this topic, but we also focus on strong “Protocol & Etiquette” skills. Sadly I have seen many professionals that have the years of experience; they have the physical capabilities and even to a certain degree the dress sense to present as an EPS. Yet as soon as they open their mouth, or try to converse, BANG. It’s all over.

    You can complete all the courses in the world, but unless you apply the required skills and develop a high level of protocol and etiquette skills to your approach, YOU WILL FAIL. Think about it, we are talking about offering personal protection services for national and international executives, high profile individuals, and high profile company directors, as well as entertainers etc. Yet I have seen many trained, qualified, and licensed bodyguards that will swear, smoke, and generally annoy their clients with constant chatter and questions.

    Or the operative will get the opportunity to escort a high profile individual to a function and may be placed at a separate table, on a covert assignment, and discuss all his/her clients matters. This may be to make sure they all know how important an EPS he/she is because of the client he/she is protecting.

    My advice to all entering this profession. Never forget that it is not how good you are, it is how much better you can be.

    Karl Thornton
    Executive Protection Specialist
    538 Pty Ltd

  • David

    I’ve been in law enforcement now for 25 years. I bought 4 years military time with my 401k so I’ll be retiring in less than two years. I have numerous less lethal teaching certificates. I’ve practiced martial arts for over 30 years now. I recently asked my administration to compensate me for my time to go to Kobetz school if I paid for the classes – they declined, so I guess I’ll wait til I retire. I’ve had a strong desire to get into this field for many years. I feel that protecting people is more than a job, its a calling. I know its going to be tough but I’m willing to put in the time, money and effort to break into this profession.

    David
    Intrepidinv1@yahoo.com

  • sean

    i am begining work in the body guard field this month and am looking for some information on omega locatedc in las vegas, NV. i met a guy who is a big time body guard here in tx and with 3 years active military service i think i would be good in this field. any advise would be great.