Part 1 in a 3 Part Series
One of the most common questions we receive is “What training do I need for Executive Protection?“. Since we receive this question so often, we thought we would address some options in this article. This info can benefit many people and provide a blueprint for success in this highly unique and specialized field.
A caveat to this series of articles is that we will focus primarily on Executive Protection (EP) and Close Protection (CP) in the Private sector. Although the training may be similar in the public sector, the career path and other elements will be a little different, so we will save that for another time. Additionally, this article series is based on our observations and experience; which like anything, means it is open for interpretation and variation. Please feel free to comment on anything that you feel may be different or missing.
Part 1 – Minimum Requirements
In part 1 of this article series, we are going to focus on the minimum requirements to enter the Private sector of Executive & Close Protection. These are the crucial elements you need to enter into the industry, regardless of background. Yes, Law Enforcement and Military folks you are going to have to check all of these boxes …All of them!
It’s important to note that before you get any work in private sector Executive Protection, you must be licensed in your jurisdiction or the jurisdictions you will operate in. However, this is not an article about licensing, it is about training, but in order to be licensed in many jurisdictions, you must complete some required training in order to get licensed. This training may simply be basic security training or it might be graduated to include Executive or Close Protection. In our jurisdiction (Alberta, Canada) in order to work EP, all you need is the basic security training and a regular Guard license. So if you want to do the bare minimum feel free to stop reading. However, this article is not about the bare minimum, it is about the training you need to be successful in EP. Since EP is never about doing things to a minimum standard, keep reading to increase your chances of success.
Pro Tip: If your jurisdiction doesn’t require basic security training, find the closest one that does and get that level of training. Having fundamental principles of security before you go looking for experience will help set you up for success. If you get the training and licensing in a neighboring jurisdiction, your employment potential will be greater.
First Aid Training
Another bare minimum skill you should have as you enter private EP is First Aid training. The lowest level (Emergency First Aid, Adult CPR, and AED) is likely acceptable for most entry-level security positions. But you aren’t looking for an entry-level job, you want to get into EP. So my suggestion is to get the highest level of First Aid Training you can afford. This would include either Advanced, Extended (or Enhanced), or Standard level, plus CPR Level C (Adult, Child, Infant & 2 Rescuer) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Remember, this is just the minimum starting point, you will eventually need much more advanced pre-hospital care training as you move forward.
You also want to get some form of defensive tactics (DT) training under your belt. For best results, focus on the more reputable programs or companies and do not limit yourself to just one style or training organization. If you have a background in or sought out martial arts training, that is not a bad thing. But a good DT program will also include Use of Force principles, legal responsibility and other elements that are not normally included at many martial arts schools. A good defensive tactics program will also include differentiating skills for arrest & control, as well as protection against and dealing with violence.
Unless you plan on getting into mobile patrols and alarm response, there is almost no requirement in regular security to be able to drive, (unless you have to get to your static sites via automobile). However, if you want to get into Executive Protection, you MUST be highly skilled at driving. Driving in regular traffic conditions is probably the single greatest and most likely threat to your VIP in both developed and high-risk countries. With that in mind, it’s best to get as much skill at driving as early as possible in your career. You might think, oh I drive every day and I have my license, I don’t need extra training. If that’s what you think then you are wrong. The average person has zero understanding of proper driving techniques, physics, vehicle dynamics and all the other nuances associated with professional driving. Get a baseline skillset of proper advanced driving capabilities early in your career and you will be ahead of many of your competition.
Pro Tip: Don’t just put your driver training on your resume, put your highest level of driver’s license on there as well. If your jurisdiction has a license category for professional drivers, like limo drivers, taxis and ambulances; I would suggest you get it and put it on your resume.
You’re also going to want to ensure you have some focused training on communicating with other human beings. There’s a variety of good programs out there and there are some others that are a waste of time. Do some research and find a reputable program with a company that has a proven track record of success.
Start getting into a quality fitness regime as early in your career as possible. You will not be able to get into EP if you are not fit. Firstly, to work in EP you will need to have the stamina to work 18+ hour days, over an extended period of time. You will not be able to accomplish that if you are not fit. You are also hired to “protect” people, which means you need to be capable of explosive speed and power with zero notice. Finally, and probably the most important element to actually getting an EP job is the optics of fitness. In EP work, optics and perception are everything. If you appear unfit people will not respect you. This includes the general public, security companies, colleagues and the VIPs you will be working with. An unfit appearance will make it difficult to get a job in EP and if by chance you do, you may have greater struggles on the job.
Pro Tip: Fitness must be accompanied by proper nutrition, hydration and rest. The earlier in your career you learn this and how it works for you, the better off you will be when you get into EP. Also, as it applies to fitness there are a variety of different fitness needs for various elements of the industry. Large muscles may be very useful for one client, while the ability to run ultra-marathons may be better for another. In my opinion, it’s best to do what works for you and if you don’t know what to do, then focus on general fitness. It would be worth it to look into hiring a professional trainer.
Specific Executive Protection Training – Get an EP Course
If you haven’t noticed yet, all of our training recommendations thus far could actually be applied to the private security industry in general. In fact, that was by design because you need to meet the private sector minimum security requirements before you consider branching out into the specialized subset of security, known as Executive Protection. However, just because you meet the minimum requirements of private security, doesn’t give you much of a chance at getting into EP, unless you have some specific training. This also applies to those that are transferring career paths from Law Enforcement or the Military. Your previous career might give you some of the previously mentioned minimum training requirements, but it doesn’t give you the specific skills for Executive or Close Protection. BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO GET INTO EXECUTIVE PROTECTION, YOU MUST HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL CAPABILITY ON THE SPECIFICS OF THE SUBJECT MATTER, regardless of your background. Get an EP Course!
Pro Tip: When looking for a company that does EP training, find one that also has an employment pipeline for EP work. This will help you gain work down the road and could potentially offset the costs of the course in a short time period. Also if the training company is connected to an operational environment, there is a greater chance what you learn will be relevant and current (but not always).
Biggest Pro Tip Ever: When you go on an EP Course (or any course) don’t just look at it as training. Consider the course as a job interview between you, the instructors, the organization, the students and the network of all of those people. Trust me on this one, every time you train or work in the industry you are setting yourself up for either more or less work.
- Do a good job and no one will know.
- Do a great job and people will notice.
- Do a horrible job and everyone will know.
- With that said – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while training. Training is intended to prepare you for operations, so it should be a place you can learn. We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Just make sure you put in maximum effort and take your lumps in stride. Professionals understand this and are better for it. Just don’t make the same mistake twice or get anyone seriously hurt.
I have specifically waited this long to talk about firearms training, as the global need in EP is not that great. Trust me, I am a big advocator of firearms if they are held in the hands of well-trained people with good intentions. In my experience, there are fewer jurisdictions that allow firearms than the ones that do (globally, amongst developed nations). So unless you live in a region that allows private security to carry firearms, don’t waste your time getting the training and licensing. On the other hand, if you live in an area that does allow you to carry, make sure you have all the advanced training as possible, the required licensing and sufficient insurance. And whatever you do, make sure you practice properly and regularly. If under stress, you aren’t capable of safe handling, accuracy and have a clear mind; then you have no business carrying a firearm. You will be more of a liability than an asset, without the proper firearm skills.
Canadian Pro Tip – If you live in a jurisdiction that doesn’t allow private security to carry firearms (anywhere in Canada), then keep all details relating to firearms off your resume. When resume writing, always consider what the reader/hirer is looking for. When a hiring manager or employer sees a resume full of “tactical this” and “firearms that”, they will likely move on. Honestly, I believe the same could be said for jurisdictions that do allow firearms. In this case, you will want that info on your resume, as it may be a requirement but don’t let it be the main effort. Highlight all of your other soft and hard skills, while merely listing you have the necessary training, qualifications and licensing in firearms.
Wait, this as an article about training and not experience. Well if you really want to be successful in EP, you need to have an extensive and diverse amount of experience. Use the minimum required training we’ve listed so far to get some experience. Try and round out your experience with frontline security but also look for other opportunities in say the service industry, travel industry or medical field. All of which will be very helpful throughout your career. Many people think of training as the endpoint or the answer to everything. In fact, it is the exact opposite; where training is the beginning that provides the mechanism to be capable of learning through experience.
Pro Tip: Don’t be too proud to get the work experience you think is beneath you. No one will hire anyone to protect their highest or most complicated EP clients, without first seeing what you’re all about. By taking the less desirable gigs, you will begin to earn trust amongst employers, colleagues, and clients (if you do a good job that is). Some industries call it paying your dues, in EP it is less of a right of passage and more of a best practice for quality control. Every gig is a job interview for the next one!
Part 1 Conclusion
The industry of Executive or Close Protection is one of the most exciting and rewarding careers you can undertake. It has tremendous opportunities and can be very fulfilling. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult endeavors you can embark on; but it doesn’t have to be. In part 1 one of this 3 part series, we have outlined the bare minimum training requirements you should meet before even getting your first opportunity. If you follow these guidelines and get the proper training you will have a much better chance of success than if you randomly journey down the road without focus.
In part 2 of this series, we will focus more on what you need to be successful once you’ve met all of the basic fundamental capabilities.
In the meantime, you can also get a free ebook we produced called “Excellence, Influence & Impact”. It involves insights into career success from top international leaders in Executive and Close Protection from all over the world. Download it now by signing up for our newsletter. Signing up will also ensure you don’t miss out on the other articles in this series.