Disclaimer: This is mostly opinion and certainly some will disagree, but it's an informed opinion just like any other post on EP Nexus. In addition, there's one question that I don't answer in this article, and it's this: "who needs the CPP certification, and what advantage is it for your specific role?" That's a question I'll address later with input from others.
I studied for about 6 weeks total and passed the ASIS CPP Exam with score of 729 out of 800 (650 is passing). I would consider my security background balanced, but by my own standards I am not as proficient as I'd like to be in all of the subjects/domains of the CPP exam, especially physical or information security.
Below is my summary of information that you should take in if you're considering getting the CPP certification, followed by my approach to studying for the exam efficiently.
Here are the costs that you will incur if you want to get the certification:
POA book set, softcover: $359 (Books) + $94.11 (Shipping) = $453.11
Exam Fee: $300 member; $450 non-member
ASIS Membership: $20 Application Fee + $195 Annual Dues = $215
All said and done, I paid about $968.11
Other Potential Costs: CPP Review Courses: $325 - $550 (NOT RECOMMENED); Fees for rescheduling your exam date/time…
Before the ASIS CPP Exam
First, you should apply to take the exam prior to purchasing the books (book cost = $453 minimum) because ASIS has to approve your application for you to take the exam. And their approval process is based on a quasi-subjective set of criteria.
As an example, one of the criteria is that the applicant must have a minimum of 9 years of experience in related security roles. I emailed the ASIS certification representative to ask if USMC Reserve (Military Police) time would be considered and how it would be factored in to the experience requirement. They gave me an unclear answer and told me that I had to apply to take the exam ($300 cost) to find out if I met their criteria. So, it's kind of like this famous statement: "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it."
FYI, they may equate 1 year of military reserve time as 1 year of full-time security employment (but I have no definitive answer from ASIS on this).
How to NOT Prepare for the ASIS CPP Exam
Generally, most people on LinkedIn recommend that you study for 3 or 6 or even 12 months - And I think this is bizarre advice!
Do not study for 6 to 12 months
Do not pay for expensive prep books, classes, etc.
Do not read any of the study notes that float around the internet (and if you do read them, know that you're going above and beyond that's necessary), with the exception of the flash cards. (The flash cards are 100% necessary!)
Aside: Per the (old) ASIS website, the distribution of exam questions looks something like this:
25% Physical Security
21% Security Principles & Practices
13% Business Principles
12% Personnel Security
10% Crisis Management
9% Information Security
How to CORRECTLY Prepare for the ASIS CPP Exam
Do's (by Chronological Order)
Apply to take the exam before purchasing the books, so that you can confirm that you are "eligible."
Purchase the POA set (paper back!) or otherwise acquire for cheap.
Before you start reading, consider this: reading all relevant guidelines and all relevant standards associated with the CPP exam will not dramatically improve your likelihood of passing. I would allocate minimal, if any resources at all to these readings.
Commit to reading 100 pages per day and be extra through with these books: Physical Security, Security Management, and Investigations (use several packs of yellow highlighters during your first read through)
After 30 days (this allows some flexibility with the 100 pages per day recommendation), you have read the full POA set (1,978 Pages).
Now it's time to review the FREE CPP flashcards; Read all 894 of them one time through (over the course of 2 days).
Now, reread the Physical Security, Security Management, and Investigations POA books again. This time highlight (using a secondary color, darker than yellow) all the concepts identified in the flashcards (per your memory) and anything that is obviously super-important.
Now, review the flashcards 1 - 2 more time(s), all the way through.
Now you're ready for the ASIS CPP Exam (in my opinion).
Travis Lishok, CPP
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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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