How to Get a Job in Close Protection
Close protection, or executive protection, is a competitive industry to break into.
Unprecedented growth during the past decade sparked by a demand surge from high risk regions has tapered off, only to be replaced by the distinct feeling that the market is contracting. This is evidenced by a reduced number of new contracts being awarded in countries like Iraq, static or diminishing pay rates and falling staff-turnover.
However there are still opportunities to gain contracts with reputable companies both in the UK and overseas.
In this quick guide I will share with you my advice on how to successfully navigate your way to a job in close protection.
What are the basic requirements?
The basic requirements to work in close protection are:
- Age: at least 18 years old
- Security Industry Authority (SIA) License: to work in the UK or for a UK based company, you must have an SIA Close Protection (Frontline) Licence
- Training: you will need to complete and pass an SIA approved training course
- Checks: you must pass identity and criminal record checks
- First Aid: you must have a recognised first aid award
Helpfully the SIA has produced a Criminal Record Indicator which allows you to check if you meet the criteria to apply for an SIA licence and work in the UK as a close protection officer. If you don’t have current identity and criminal record checks, you will get these alongside a successful license application.
For close protection work in hostile environments, it is also required that you have at least five years’ experience with the military or police.
Choosing the right close protection training provider
There are over 70 providers offering close protection courses, often making it difficult to decide which one is right for you.
Course providers vary drastically in size and experience. Ask yourself the following questions when you’re narrowing down your list of potential providers, and if you can’t find an answer online then don’t be afraid to ask.
Does the provider have the right accreditations?
A reputable training provider should be accredited by bodies such as Skills for Security and the Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELCAS). These organisations conduct independent assessments, and not all courses will make the grade.
Does the provider have a strong network in the industry?
Do not underestimate the importance of building a network of contacts in the security industry, as they are often the people who can best advise you on where to find work. Being close to the potential employer, they often hear about vacancies first.
My advice is that you choose a training provider that has an established network in the industry and can introduce you to the right people.
The best way to test this is to ask your current contacts what they think of the training providers you have in mind.
Will the course give you the skills you are looking for?
Take a discerning eye to the contents of the courses you’re considering. If they cover skills that are not relevant for your desired job, such as weapon handling for unarmed work, then you might want to reconsider. My advice is to seek out a course that offers some training in the commercial aspects of the security industry, as this is the area where many candidates fall short.
What is the overall course experience?
There is a big difference between a full-board course and a nine-to-five course where you go home at the end of the day. I recommend a course that is truly immersive, and provides you with a round the clock experience of what it means to work in close protection – a situation you will often find yourself in for real in the industry.
Immersive courses also tend to be more beneficial as they allow plenty of time for networking.
How do you fund your close protection course?
The Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELCAS) provides financial support for service-leavers who wish to achieve higher learning qualifications, such as those in close protection.
My advice again is to look closely at the course you have in mind. Be prepared to factor in accommodation, food and travel costs if these are not covered by the training provider.
Where should you be looking for close protection jobs?
The UK close protection market has always been relatively small, providing a steady but limited number of close protection opportunities.
In the current climate, my advice is to look abroad to more complex countries for contracts that stretch over the longer term.
Getting the job
Employers will rarely come looking for you.
The most successful operators who gain work, and remain in work, are those who contact employers, submit well-written covering letters and CVs, and make an effort to introduce themselves. A blank or badly written email with a CV attached will most likely be ignored.
Once on a task, operatives should do the very best job possible and are natural problem solvers as very often they face difficult circumstances with minimal support. This kind of work ethic ensures that a solid and reliable reputation is built which leads to regular employment.
Good luck in the job hunt!
If you have any close protection career related questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Carl Wynne, Resourcing Manager