I once read this statement about executive protection in an online forum: “You need to be ex-special forces or a martial arts ninja to work in executive protection.”
Of course this is a ridiculous claim, but people believe the basic premise of this statement. You can see it at work in many online advertisements relating to executive protection. And of course, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Ever seen the pictures used to advertise an executive protection course? How many of them reflect macho bull****, rather than real protective stills?
I’m going to give my personal perspective on how to get started in executive protection.
Executive Protection & The Google Dilemma
If you Google “how to get an executive protection job” you will find a lot of abstract articles with no substance. The same goes if you ask that question in an online forum (security/law enforcement related). You will get answers such as the following:
- Start by finding jobs on Craigslist, driving around exotic dancers
- Start by becoming the executive assistant of one of the corporate officers
- Take my $3,000 course and maybe you’ll get a job with my company [BEWARE!]
- Read my buddy’s book about executive protection, he was special forces…
Before you venture on your career in EP, you need to ask yourself if you are prepared for the demands: long hours, lots of travel, and little personal time. If you are still reading, then lets move on to making you a good candidate for an EP position (and how to find that position).
Be the Ideal Entry-Level Executive Protection Candidate
First, I recommend reading the following books. These will give you a solid foundation and an understanding of what you’re getting into:
The Gift of Fear By Gavin De Becker (EP Note Available)
Left of Bang By Van Horne and Riley (EP Note Available)
The Art of Executive Protection By Robert Oatman
The Advance By David L. Johnson
How to Look for Trouble By Stratfor (EP Note Available)
Surveillance Detection By Laura Clark
For your first job in executive protection, you need to be willing to accept an offer that will not be glamorous, you just need to get your foot in the door.
Generally, everyone’s start in executive protection will be working in a command center. This is advantageous for EP manager because he can continue to evaluate you after you’ve been hired. He will see how you operate under stress, whether you exercise sound judgement, evaluate see your communication ability (written/verbal), etc. A start in the command center also gives you, the new-hire, a well rounded understanding of how your particular program operates. For more information about working in a command center, see my previous article “What the Hell is a Command Center.”
What are Typical Requirements for a Command Center/Residential Security Position?
*I group command center and residential operations because many times the command center doubles as a residential security center (a central area where operations are coordinated from).
Security Experience: This could be private security, or military/law enforcement experience. In most cases, a combination of military/LE and private sector security experience is preferred. The reason for this is because private security is dramatically different from public security.
Computer Proficiency: At a minimum, a candidate needs to have basic knowledge of Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, etc) and be able to type at 30+ words per minute. If you’re a luddite (look it up), then go work at the local bar, you don’t belong here. Ideally, the candidate would know the basics about online anonymity (how to use a VPN, etc.), and how to safely conduct investigations using open source intelligence (OSINT) tools.
Medical Training: At a minimum, a candidate needs a CPR/AED certification from the American Heart Association. They should also have some kind of first-aid training. Ideally, they will have emergency medical technician (EMT) training.
- Security: Depending on what state you’re in, you may need a license to work as a “security guard,” and another license to carry an exposed firearm. I recommend having both of these even if you don’t need the firearm permit at the moment.
- CCW: It’s good to have a license to carry a concealed firearm, but this is not required. In fact, most details in the US don’t even carry. (refer to “It’s Not About the Gun” in R.L. Oatman’s The Art of Executive Protection)
- Driver’s License: You need one
- Passport: Have a passport. Your employer will take you more seriously.
Education: A bachelors degree is ideal, but a high school diploma would suffice for command center work. If you don’t have a bachelors degree and aren’t working towards one, then don’t expect to ever manage the EP team. The principals are probably PHDs, so they would expect to have a moderately educated leader for their security team.
Be Fit (Don’t Be Fat!): The principal does not want a fat, slovenly goon with him. He wants someone that looks like the rest of the people in his company (professional).
Where to Start Looking?
First, you need to start conducting research in order to determine what executive protection jobs are being advertised in your area and how your qualifications match up with these positions.
- Check job search sites (indeed, monster, etc). This should add perspective to your search, without being overly time consuming.
- Search Craigslist for job openings. There is likely a golden opportunity hidden away on Craigslist in the form of a residential security position. Trust me.
- Search the websites of the big EP firms in your area. Refer to their “careers” page. For example, since I’m in California, I would consider the following: Gavin De Becker and Associates, AS Solution, World Protection Group, etc.
- After you have conducted this survey of sorts, you need to ask yourself where you would like to work, and whether you match the qualifications there. Then start applying.
I don't have time to give advice on resume writing or interviewing. If you have an internet connection and you can’t figure that out, then go work in public security. I will only say that from all of the interviews that I've sat in on during my EP career, the following will not get you a second interview: being fat, speaking poorly of your former employers, talking about sensitive issues relating to your last job (OPSEC), having a visible tattoo, etc.
Need a Job? and Other Thoughts
- Don’t major in criminal justice: Everyone has a CJ degree, and it doesn't amount to much. Study a different subject so that you can contribute something meaningful to the EP team (psychology, communication, intelligence studies, computer science, etc).
- Become a military reservist (for purposes of expedience): This will give you credibility, boost your resume, and you might learn a lot depending on your MOS. Military Police would be ideal.
- Notice that I didn’t recommend any EP schools or other training programs here. I did this because you don’t need to attend an EP school to get your foot in the door with an EP team. It’s wise to wait until you get a year’s experience at your first EP job before spending $1,000’s on a course. Maybe you'll hate EP? Or maybe your manager will promote you only if you attend the schools that he recommends?
- Here's a good example of what an EP Manager looks for in Command Center and Executive Protection staff: http://www.ep-intel.com/careers/
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About the EP Nexus Blog
The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.
Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.
The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection Hacks. EP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.
Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.
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