By Hucky Austin
I receive hundreds of inquiries a week from individuals wanting to get into the Executive Protection Business. It’s amazing to me, how many misconceptions are out there about this industry.
So at the risk of bursting bubbles, I will tell you this: There are no short-cuts to getting started in this business. In short, be certain this is the line of work for you. Don’t try to do this job unless you find that you have a real zeal for it.
Books: This is your first assignment on this career path. I highly recommend, that you read up (research?) and get a basic understanding of some of the requirements and methodologies we use in this field. If it appeals to you I would suggest that you take the next steps; seek out training, mentoring, and networking.
If it doesn’t, you only wasted a few bucks. There are some great books out there by seasoned professionals in the industry. In addition, many EP schools have books and manuals that cover the basics.
Training: There are literally hundreds of EP training courses, and they are wide-ranging in terms of the type of training, quality of instruction, and tuition fees. It is vital that you research and conduct due diligence in assessing schools before you select an EP training course; understand that the most preliminary and very basic EP training will consist of at least 24 hours of theory – and that’s just scratching the surface.
Go beyond believing online hype and guarantees of employment. No EP course can guarantee you work upon completing coursework. If the school advertising or facilitators are telling you this–IT IS NOT TRUE! There are countless unscrupulous and dishonest people out there who are taking advantage of people eager to get into this field.
Go to online industry forums, read what people have to say about schools, use professional resources/individuals to ask questions or for referrals. Do not be fooled.
Next point I want to make is that it would be wise before you choose a school to determine what type of security you want to perform. For example, are you interested in corporate protection in a low risk environment in CONUS? Or, do you want to perform high details OCONUS?
Training is ongoing and continuous–there are SO MANY aspects to this career, as well as licensing, learning new technologies and procedures– you never really stop enhancing your skills and broadening your base of knowledge. Training programs can be a great first step in developing a network, make the most of your time in training, and develop friendships.
Networking: Networking – you’ll hear this over and over again and it’s where many guys get the best jobs. 90% of the jobs in this industry are filled without any advertisement. Word-of-mouth and professional friendships or personal friendships can keep the opportunities within a small network of talent.
You need to figure out how to develop a network for yourself. Developing a network requires research and creativity. There is something important that networking allows, in addition to access to information.
It is an opportunity to showcase your personality, your people skills, your sense of humor and intelligence. These are valuable assets to securing work in the field. Let people get to know you, beyond your resume or bio. Develop some friendships with like-minded individuals without an agenda.
Marketing: At the end of the day, if you want to be successful in business you have to be able to market yourself. The EP in industry is no different than any other business. You can have the finest training and experience in the world, but if you want to be employed in this industry you need to learn how to sell and market yourself.
Marketing savvy is a critical part of your success. Sales and marketing are a numbers game. You’ll be rejected or ignored a hundred times for every nibble or yes you’ll receive. It’s rough going at first but in time, if you conduct yourself well, apply yourself to personal and professional development, your reputation will bring work to your door or nowadays your email inbox.
Creativity: If you want to be successful in this industry, it is essential that you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. You’ve heard the expression “think outside the box” which means, don’t think in the same old way! There’s a great story about a car salesman who worked for Lexus. During lean times, people aren’t out shopping for cars and the dealership just wasn’t getting any customers.
So, he worked out a deal with a local upscale country club, and brought 10 cars where he offered patrons the opportunity to test drive the vehicles. He not only made his quota, but automobile sales for the dealership went through the roof! Think about how you can get to the people who need protection services outside of the usual: “send a resume.” People have resources and potential contacts at their fingertips, but often don’t have the courage to start a dialogue or friendship with someone who could be of help.
Lastly, understand that there are no shortcuts to being successful in this business. And even with all the training and networking in the world, without experience you will not land an $80K/year job straight out of the chute. It will not happen, remember to be patient! In this “get rich/get famous quick” world, it seems everyone wants everything to happen quickly with virtually no effort.
That is not realistic. Starting out in this field (as in any career) involves a certain amount of “paying dues.” You don’t move to the top–and the top-paying jobs–without putting in the time doing some less-than-glamorous tasks. Expect to work for less in the beginning, with the goal of garnering real-world experiences.
I will be truthful with you; it will take a few years before you start to build a reputation (as well as a resume) worthy of the big-dollar details. This work is like any other career–get into it first because it is something you have a real passion for and are willing to work at–and the money will follow.
These are just a few random and spurious thoughts for your consideration. I’m not the guru of anything but I’ve kept myself gainfully and, for the most part, passionately employed since ’83. I’ve made more mistakes than most but each one has taught me valuable lessons and helped put me where I am today. Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes yourself. Failures are just rungs on the ladder to success.
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.
Great advice, what books would you suggest I pick up.
Very truthful, concise and insightful. As the Marketing director of Executive Security International I have contact with hundreds of individuals on a weekly basis that have interest in the industry and I must say you are 100% on target. Reputation, the ability to market yourself and network, stacked on a strong foundation of skill sets that are constantly being updated through training are a definite recipe for success. Thanks for this piece. Brandon
A very insightful article from a true professional in the industry. Keep Safe and All the Best.
I agree professional training and networking are very important. I am currently in College taking Marketing courses, Business Courses, even a creative writing course. These things aren’t taught in training, besides having a degree is nice to have also.
I think that this is a thoughtful and well written article. It’s honest in its theme that becoming an EP professional does not happen overnight. Even those of us with prior military / law enforcement have to pay our dues. But, the reward is substantial.
Speaking from experience, besides getting yourself well trained, networking is key. Nobody who is serious about their security is going to Google for you. Word of mouth and reputation are so important. Remember your brain is always your most important weapon.
Great article…I’m just getting into the business and I’m training with Blackwater in North Carolina in June with their EP course. I’m going to take advantage of all the advice I can get…
Hucky the words of wisdom you have shared with me on face book still ring true today, if its ok i would like to post what you told me before i went to Icons training. i reread them at least 3 times a week.
Great advice Hucky. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people actually ask; “am I guaranteed a job after training?” Immediately I tell them; “there are no guarantees in life” and then I ask them; “if a University can not guarantee you a job after you spend 4 years obtaining your undergraduate degree, how could you expect a guaranteed job after a week long course?”
This career is great for those who want to work. If you need to be coaxed, then it probably won’t work for you. If you take your training serious, keep your head down and work assignments as they come along, you will eventually be noticed, by colleagues and employers. I have helped guys get into this business and because they had the right attitude, they became so popular and sought after, that I had trouble getting them for assignments after a while!
Thank you for the advice. Although a bit salty, very palatable.