BICSI Dumps Security Certification

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Jul 23, 2015

Security people may love IT, but the feeling evidently is not mutual.

Standards/certification group BICSI has terminated their Electronic Safety and Security credential after a few years' availability and very limited adoption. In this note we, we take a look at their reasoning, industry impact, and more.

ESS Credential

For those unfamiliar, the BICSI ESS credential overviewed electronic security and safety systems design, including video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, fire alarm, nurse call, and more, included in their ESS Design Reference Manual. The manual focuses predominantly on the basics of these systems, along with infrastructure design to support these systems.

It is not detailed in selecting nor designing, such as how to properly select cameras for a specific application, which doors to add access control to access and how, or placement of fire alarm devices (generally dictated by applicable codes).

Reasons for Discontinuation

In a letter to members, BICSI president Michael A. Collins boiled down the reasons for ending the ESS program into one sentence:

After several years of availability the marketplace has not supported the ESS program at high enough levels to justify continuing it and to commit to the significant updating investments that would be required.

Likely this is because few outside of the BICSI faithful respected the ESS credential or required designers/engineers to obtain it, leading to few candidates purchasing the reference material or sitting for the exam. With little direct income from these publications and exam fees, supporting the credential essentially becomes an unprofitable proposition.

Compared to Others

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Like the BICSI ESS, other security credentials receive little respect outside of certain circles. However, there are key differences in their reception, execution, and fee structure which keep them running:


The ASIS PSP certification, for example, hold little weight outside of security departments, nor do specs often require designers, project managers, or staff to hold them. Moreover, the PSP's coverage of electronic access control and video surveillance is fairly shallow / basic. However, these credentials have significantly more history than the BICSI ESS, and are offered by a security-focused organization, making them better known. Moreover, with the high cost of reference material (PSP: $369 member/$449 nonmember) and review courses (PSP review: $625 member/$725 nonmember, taught by unpaid volunteers), along with continuing education credit costs, these credential programs are a revenue source for ASIS.


By contrast, other credentials such as the NICET Video Security Systems Designer remain afloat simply because there is little cost incurred by the organization to maintaining the exam. Since NICET does not publish reference material, only suggest titles published by others, they do not incur costs to update it. And since exam questions are rarely updated, fees ($270 Level I/$325 Level II) for even the limited number of certificants likely more than pay for costs incurred to maintain the program.


As for us, our IPVM courses are now training over 1,000 people a year, with each class easily having 100+ registrants. What started as an experiment less than 3 years ago, has grown rapidly to become a core part of IPVM, leveraging our testing and research to provide the most up to date and in-depth training in the industry.

Our next courses are this fall. Right now, both are eligible for the $50 discount for early registration. Learn more about the Fall 2015 IP Networking Course and the Fall 2015 Access Control course.

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