How to Become a Security Consultant
A security consultant is someone who works for different businesses assessing risks, problems, and solutions for security issues. The consultant may work as a physical security consultant or as an IT consultant who works with computers. Whether you work as a physical or IT security consultant, it is a rewarding role to help people with their security problems and needs. Security consultants may work for consulting firms or as self-employed contractors, but all of these professionals need basic educational and certification requirements to work in their sectors.
What Do Security Consultants Do?
Security consults deal with various threats to physical and computer security. Security threats come in many forms such as computer hackers, terrorists, and attacks on physical assets. There are specializations for security consultants of building security, natural and man-made disaster prevention, or with computer security issues.
Some of the roles security consultants may do for companies or private individuals are installing physical protections of video surveillance and alarm systems. Physical security risks are issues for many companies and security consultants may determine physical security risks such as threats of violence in the workplace, the stability of a building during tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, or other natural disasters, and development of evacuation plans for personnel during emergencies. Security consultants also may advise on building maintenance issues.
They may counsel businesses about hiring competent security personnel and help perform background checks on potential employee hires. Training new employee hires or existing employees on security issues specific to the company or individual can be a critical role for security consultants. Non-physical roles for security consultants can be as computer security consultants who assess IT systems, databases, and computer infrastructures for weaknesses hackers can exploit with unauthorized access, data loss, or data modification. On state and federal levels, security consultants might advise leaders about what actions to take in times of war, national crisis, or how to counter terrorism.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most security consultants require at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. As in any profession, employment opportunities improve with educational achievement. Your major in college depends on what type of security consulting you want to pursue. A degree in criminal justice is useful or you might choose to pursue an IT degree if you intend to be a computer security consultant.
Other college courses you may want to take include intelligence management, public safety, criminology, and homeland security. Accounting and finance are useful courses if you have your own security business. Foreign language proficiency is useful for those who plan to work at the federal level as security consultants.
Certification, some specialized, is also helpful for security consultants. For example, a physical or IT security consultant could benefit from becoming a Certified Security Consultant (CSC) or as a Certified Protection Professional. Consultants working in IT could benefit from earning a Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification. In addition, there are many other certificates such as network security certification that computer security consultant may choose to pursue to enhance educational and professional skills. Certification programs exist in loss prevention, cyber-crime investigation, logistics, safety, and computer security.
On the job training under the mentorship of senior security consultants can be an important part of a security consultant’s education, training, and career.
Salaries for security consultants vary depending on worker education, training, certification, and experience. The median salary for a physical security consultant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $76,380. For IT security consultants, the median salary is $81,086.
Earning further certifications and belonging to professional organizations can help raise your earning potential through training, networking, and other professional opportunities. Some professional organizations that help their members keep current with security consultant best practices are the International Association of Professional Security Consultants and the ASIS International.
The organization also advocates the security management profession to businesses, governments, and the public. The organization also publishes an international magazine, Security Management, to keep its members informed about current issues in security consulting. The International Association of Professional Security Consultants was founded in 1984. Its mission is to provide membership and set standards for professional consultants in security management, security systems, information security, physical security, security operations, security risk assessment, and security training. It offers seminars and other educational opportunities for security consultants to pursue better careers in the security field.
The employment outlook for security consultants is good, with a 13 percent growth rate for careers in the field. Security consultants with specialty degrees, and ongoing education have a better vocational outlook than those who do not pursue certification or further training opportunities.
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