Becoming a Security Consultant

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Mar 27, 2014

Want to become a security consultant?

We spoke with the President of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants, Frank Pisciotta, about becoming a security consultant, looking at the importance of niches, how to overcome the challenges of the first year of being a new consultant and competing against product salespeople posing as consultants.

Becoming a Consultant

The first thing a person needs to do when deciding to become a consultant is figure out what kind of consulting they want to do, Pisciotta says. There are generalists who focus more on security management, consultants who testify in court as expert witnesses (forensic consulting) and then technical consultants (access control, perimeter security, surveillance, etc.).

“You have to find your area of expertise,” he said. “Once you figure that out, then you really need to learn the business of consulting. You can be a good pie maker but not know how to run a pie making business.”

Part of the IAPSC’s function is to help train security practitioners in the business side of consulting. It offers training courses at most of the major trade shows that put people in touch with veteran consultants.

Have a Niche

Consultants should not try to be everything to everyone, he says.

“It doesn’t work and you end up being confused on how to market yourself," he said. “Unquestionably, if you can find a niche and have a specialty, that helps. Once you find that niche and speciality, your credibility is enhanced and you can speak intelligently to that perspective.”

Why Most Consultants Fail

The first year as a consultant is a significant challenge, he says. The main reason consultants fail is because they have a hard time finding new clients.

“Finding your first client and getting clients secured is a significant challenge,” he said. “When people are purchasing security consulting, they’re buying on trust and experience. Tactics like line letters and direct mail don’t typically work to well.”

He recommends new consultants try and team up with more experienced consultants on projects to build up a portfolio and to get experience from someone who is already doing it. When a person joins IAPSC, they are assigned a mentor that can help them with that, he said.

He also says consultants should go to where potential clients are going to be. For example, a workplace violence consultant “is going to want to be going places where you find human resources folks,” he said.

Consider Easing into It

Many people will start their consulting businesses while still employed to help them get through that first year.

“It may take a couple years to build a practice so some people do it while they still have a paycheck coming in. They begin to take on a few projects and ease into it over a period of time,” he said. It’s a good strategy for people who don't want to jump in head first, he said.

Real Consultants vs. People Who Consult on Security

People selling products are not consultants, he says.

“Nine times out of 10, somebody has a product attached to what they’re doing. It’s prolific and it’s very difficult for an independent consultant to compete against that,” he says.

For example, guard companies will offer free consulting and site assessment, but in almost all cases they will come to the conclusion that the client needs more guards, he says. He says those free assessments aren’t looking holistically.

He created this chart for a presentation he gives to aspiring consultants on this topic:

“If you’re consulting on cameras and you’re selling cameras, you’re a salesman. IAPSC takes a hard line on independence and ethics. You can’t be pushing things from manufacturers,” he said.

Comments (2): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Most Recent Industry Reports

Cisco Falling - Favorite Network Switches 2017 on Oct 20, 2017
1 major manufacturer fell and 1 outsider manufacturer gained as integrator favorites for network switches from more than 140 votes / explanations...
Uniview Recorder Backdoor Examined on Oct 20, 2017
A Chinese research group has identified a vulnerability in Uniview recorders that allows backdoor access in a method similar to the Dahua...
Hikvision Access Control Tested on Oct 19, 2017
Hikvision aggressive pricing and marketing combined with generally reliable hardware and free software has made them a major player in video...
Verkada, Silicon Valley VSaaS Startup, Targets Enterprise on Oct 19, 2017
Verkada says they are building an enterprise-class VSaaS offering, calling it "The new platform for video security". This is a departure from the...
Exacq Unbreaks Avigilon Integration on Oct 18, 2017
For nearly 4 years, Exacq had broken and effectively blocked use with Avigilon cameras, as IPVM reported in January 2014. Now, Exacq has...
Search More Important Than Live Monitoring - Statistics on Oct 18, 2017
Search is overall more important than live monitoring to integrators, according to new IPVM statistics.  The key themes found in integrator...
Axis 'Sold Out' P3707-PVE Multi-Imager Tested on Oct 18, 2017
Axis faced significant product shortages over the summer. Perhaps the most notorious and significantly sold out model was the Axis P3707-PE 8MP...
Dahua Removes Auto Rebooting on Oct 17, 2017
For years, Dahua has automatically programmed its IP cameras to reboot weekly, a highly atypical and questionable practice. Following IPVM...
Deep Learning Tutorial For Video Surveillance on Oct 17, 2017
Deep learning is a growing buzzword within physical security and video surveillance. But what is 'deep learning'? In this tutorial, we explain...
Multipoint Lock Access Control Tutorial on Oct 17, 2017
Doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and money can be misspent on wrong locks that leave doors quite vulnerable. While closed and locked...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact