So, you want to take the next step to being competitive in the security arena. You know others who have successfully earned their ISP and you want to join the ranks of the very few professionals with ISP after their name. Great, I hope this article motivates you. So keep reading and enjoy some background information and keep posted on a proven method of studying for and passing the exam.
The Society of Industrial Security Professionals identified with the acronym NCMS is the primary professional organization for Department of Defense contractor security professionals. This organization is unique and has a different clientele than other security professional organizations such as ASIS International. The NCMS is dedicated to equipping, training and providing this unique group of professionals and their support of the National Industrial Security Program.
The NCMS currently has 2,000 members which are made up of those working with Department of Defense, Department of Energy, contractors, members in NATO countries and many others. The business challenges are unique and this organization helps to meet them by providing training in Operation Security, Information Security, document classification, personnel and facility security clearances and much more.
Much of the training is conducted through the network of professionals as well as in annual training events and seminars. These annual events provide opportunities for hands on demonstrations, latest in industry news and award ceremonies. The newest addition to the annual seminar is the Industrial Security Professional Certification test.
Out of the 2,000 members only 6% who hold the ISP certification. In July 2005 there were only 75 ISPs and as of October 2006 the number has increased to 117. The test is challenging and the pass rate is 80%. However, this pass rate is expected to improve as a result of the mentor programs developing within the organization as well as time saving techniques offered with the on-line testing.
As with most professional organizations, the ISP is recognized as a prestigious title. As mentioned earlier, there are only 117 people carrying their business cards to job interviews and hanging certificates on the wall. The ISP does indeed distinguish the bearer from others and as a result there is currently a drive to have all leaders in the organization certified.
The ISP demonstrates a high level of knowledge for the holder. It is based strictly on the NISPOM that the government governs compliance with. It also covers electives dealing with communications security, Operations Security, and others specific to the industry. Because of the intense study involved it demonstrates willingness for self-improvement and dedication to the profession. This tells upper management that you are committed to the business, the industry and the protection of national interests. It puts the company in a stronger negotiation position while bidding on contracts and lends credibility to relationships with the oversight agency the Defense Security Services (DSS). Most of all, it gives the recipient confidence in knowledge base and the ability to apply the knowledge to make vital decisions.
As this certification program evolves, more and more employers will recognize the bearer during job interviews. According to the book, “Now, Discover Your Strengths”, the difference between mediocrity and excellence is a small margin. For example, a horse wins a race by fractions of a second and employees excel faster by completing only one more small action a day. The ISP is the difference between which applicant gets the Facility Security Officer job offer or which security administrator gets the extra one percent raise.
This isn’t to say that this is an easy certification. This just demonstrates that a little discipline; 20 to 30 minutes a day, can make a huge difference. In my case, I studied for approximately 20 minutes per day during the work week for five months. Since I don’t like to cram, I take it slow. Some people have different philosophies and take a more intense approach. Through out this book, I will give you hints and techniques that other people have used to give you the skills necessary to couple with your knowledge to help you pass the certification.
More and more chapters of the national program are electing officers with the ISP after their name. The national board of the chapter is challenging all present officers to get the certification to set the example for all the other professionals and pretty soon it may be difficult to serve as a chair without the certification.
There are many reasons to step out and take the test. From career development to the satisfaction of accomplishment and prestige, the ISP certification fulfills many desires and goals. However there may be many more excuses not to take it. It is expensive, time consuming, embarrassment of failure and just plain fear stop people from distinguishing themselves. However, if you follow the principles set forth in my upcoming book, you will improve your chances of passing and creating your legacy, improving your standing, increasing your salary and rising to the top in your chosen field.