Debunking 'No One Grows Up Wanting To Be In The Security Industry'

By John Honovich, Published Dec 21, 2020, 08:08am EST (Info+)

It is true but self-destructive to care that 'no one grows up wanting to be in the security industry'.

IPVM Image

This is seen as a problem and something the industry tries hard to figure out how to solve. It is not a problem and trying to solve this takes attention away from the real problem the industry faces.

Kids **** ** ** *********** ******

**** ********* **** ** ** *********** things - ************ ********, ************* *****, veterinarians, **********, ***.

IPVM Image

********: ********, * *** **** ** he ****** ** ** * ******** when ** ***** **.

****** * ** * ******* *** tell *** ** ******? ****, * did. ** ********* ** ******** ** me. ** ***** **** ***, ** he ***** ** ****** **** ** did *** **** ** ** ** a ******** *** **** **** *** stripped *** ** *** *****? ***** it.

** *** ***** ****, ** ***** this****** ** ****** ** **** ********* that ***** *-****-*** *** ******** ** be * ********.

** ********, **** ** ******* ***** dreams ** ******** *******, **** **** man-dog:

Most ******** ***** * *** **** *** *** **** ******* **

*** ******* ** **** ******** ***** a *** **** *** *** **** growing ** ** *** ** *** sort ** **** **** **** **** often ***** **:

  • ***'* ***** **** *** ***** ** children *** ************* *** ******* ** actual **** ** *** *****.
  • ***** ***** **** *** **** * small ********** ** *** **** ********* anyway.
  • ***** ***** **** **** ** ** less '******' **** **** ********** *** reality *** ********* ** ***** ****.

******, **** ***** '*** ****' ******** *** ********* *** ***** ***** be ******* *****, *.*., *** #*:

IPVM Image

**** ** *** * ********* ** software ***********, ****** ****, ****** **** parents *** ** ****, **** *** not **** ******* ** ** ******** development. *** ** *-**** ***, ** means ***** ***** ** * **** day ***** ***. *** ******** *********** is * ******* ** ********* *** for ****** **** *** ***** ******* and ***********.

*** #* ** ** ** *****'* top **** ** ***** ****:

IPVM Image

***** **** *** ***** ** ******** a ******, **** ** *** ***** of ***** * ********** *** *******, the #** *** ***:

IPVM Image

**** ** **** ** * ********* of ***** ****, **** ** ************* to **** *** ******* **** **** because ******* **** "* ***** ******* of ******** * ******** *********, ****** language *********** ** ****** ******** *******" that ** *** * ******* *** those **********.

Missing *** **** *******

*** ****** **** **** ***** ** that ** *** ********* '******** *******' to ***** **** ** **** **** the ******** ******** ****** ** **** people ***** ** *** ********, **** talented ****** **** ***** **** *** industry.

*******, **** ** * '*******' *******, not * ******** ***. *** **** problem ** **** *** ******** *** to ***** ******, ** ***** ** money, ****** ***********, ********, *** ******* of **** ****. ****** **** *** the **** **** *** ***** ** work ** *** ***** ** *********** they ***** ******* ** ** * child******* ***** ************** *** **********.

**** ********* **** ** *** ***** up ******* ** ** ** **** or *** ******** *** ***** ***** realistic ***** **** **** ** ****** would ** ********* ** ******* ***** in **** ********, ***** **** ***** roles *****. **** **** ** ******* in *** ****** **** ** **** essay.

Comments (30)

Children need their dreams...I wanted to be a phrenologist.

Ha Ha

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny: 8

OK, I bit and looked that up. Thanks for the new word of the day and that's funny!

Greg

Agree: 2
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Funny...I also couldn't resist.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

I understand it’s a handy trade

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny: 1

haha!

"quickly checks head for bumps"

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

It just needs to be advertised, it would help if the industry as a whole could come together a little with some standards, maybe some schooling. Hell a six month course I think like the intro to the trades type thing would be sufficient.

What's the future? I didn't really know what my future was in this industry when I started. I was an at age where I still kind of wanted to do what my dad did, so I started with the company he worked for. That was 13 years ago, I still don't really know what my future is in this industry, and frankly I might not have one.

Money. Conceivably how much money can one make depending on what they do. This is the part I've found everyone is really vague about. Of course, they want to hire you for the least amount of money possible to do the most amount of work, but that doesn't really fly anymore. Many people are no longer grateful just to have a job, which is fair. I think that's a good attitude. But what's the wage gonna be?

I started out $9/hr (first in call center then in the warehouse/tech support, and year 2 as tech) and, personally, I feel my skills grew far quicker than my wages did, and I had to move employers twice to get up to where I am now at a pretty decent wage. I saw many people get discouraged, working their butts off to prove they could be a good tech, only to see their wage jump from $12/hr to $14.50 in two years. So they quit and go somewhere else.

My brother did the same thing.

No one wants to work for a company that treats you like family, that's a bunch of bull shit. They want work/life balance. They don't want to spend every second week away from home. They want to get paid a fair wage for fair work. Yes a lot of people over value themselves, but I've found employers under value their employees to "help the bottom line". Find a compromise instead of the race to the bottom.

I will say that in the last few years, for my area, companies are starting to realize if they want smart, I.T. savvy people to stick around, they have to pay more, and have been offering more. But now it's shifting the other way, now they don't just higher newbies. Everyone needs 2-3 years experience, yatta yatta. Fuck I even saw one Security Company looking for Alarm Installers asking for a Bachelors in Computer Science or equivalent experience. Seriously?

However, this is a 'product' problem, not a branding one. The real problem is what the industry has to offer adults, in terms of money, career development, prestige, and quality of work life.

So long winded rant aside, you've hit the nail on the head in way less words than I did. That's why you run this joint and I just pay to be here.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative: 1
Unhelpful
Funny: 8

In access control related events, I use my standard joke line:

"My dad told me to go to college...it will open doors to a good career...

...I just didn't know it would be a career.....opening doors!!" Badum bum.. 🥁

In all seriousness....many jobs are things that no one knows even exists, until you fall into them.

I'm less concerned that no one views this work as glamorous. The positive is that there is less competition. The negative is that it's harder to recruit good people...but I suppose that's true no matter the industry.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny: 3

it's harder to recruit good people

Why is it harder? Because no one views it as glamorous? Is being a proctologist glamorous? Is doing search engine optimization for insurance companies glamorous? Is it glamorous to be an accountant?

I am curious for your thoughts. What is making it harder to recruit good people? And who do we consider good people that are not coming?

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Perhaps I should not have said "harder", but just difficult. In my experience, younger candidates, in general, seems to view access control as boring..... but later change their tune when they see how writing code can make something happen in the real world, like a vehicular gate open or a camera pan and tilt.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

younger candidates, in general, seems to view access control as boring

boring because of the domain or boring because of the money / advancement possibilities? I am trying to distinguish them because a lot of Silicon Valley tech companies work on boring or with little real meaning (optimizing ad spend, to pick one of the biggest use cases).

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Boring because of perception of the domain. Once they're in (the access control world), few ever leave it though. Companies tend to be smaller and pay reasonably well, and because they are small, an engineer can develop real product without endless meetings writing JIRA "user stories" about how a request-to-exit button is supposed to work ("as a user, I want to push a button to open a door from the inside" 🙄).

Agree: 2
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny: 1

You get a gold star for this comment! Truth.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny: 1

John,

I don’t think that what we do as integrators, is boring at all. In my previous role, I worked as a Flight Simulator Tech for the United States Navy. I worked on and maintained everything from 3000psi hydraulic pumps and actuators to pulling circuit boards out of mainframe computers, troubleshooting with O’Scopes and Signal Generators, pulling bad circuit chips, reprogramming the new chips, and soldering them back into the board. I aligned high-end video systems that rendered lifelike simulations for the pilots on a full-motion platform.

I left that world because I was offered a job in the integrator world. Most people ask me why I would leave such a cool job. I think that it boils down to the individual. We must look for people who have drive. Who has the desire to learn. Who can problem solve. Who want to learn and like to dissect things to see how it works. People with these traits do not care that the position is for a “security tech”, they simply see the challenges of the job and are intrigued. The only real qualifications that I see that is uniquely needed in our industry are mechanical skills, knowledge of networks, and topology, and a basic understanding of AC and DC theory. Everything else can be learned on the job.

The problem with integrators is that we tend to want to only hire experienced techs and basically wind up hiring one another’s techs as they job hop from company to company. We need to learn how to hire people by asking the right questions. We need to present the jobs as challenging technology positions, not “Experienced Security Tech” or “Access Control Tech”. No one knows what those positions are, nor would they care to ask, as it sounds nauseating. Instead, maybe offer something like “Integrated Technology Technician” or "Integrated IoT Professional". These titles would grab your attention and for those seeking a challenge, it would certainly grab it.

Once we get the attention of possible candidates, we need to learn how to share what we do without making it sound like breaking rocks with a hammer kind of work. Share what we do in everyday life. “We troubleshoot complex integrated systems, sometimes without experience on these systems, in an environment where the client expects results. You will be working closely with client I.T. departments, overcoming challenging environments using your knowledge of computers, networks, mechanical, and low voltage skills to troubleshoot, build and install complex systems to the client’s satisfaction”.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like fun, and far from boring.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Mark, thanks for your first comment!

Just to clarify, I did not say the industry was boring, I was responding to Jon Lawry's comment about younger candidates viewing the industry as boring.

I think the big issue is money relative to other jobs that provide similar intellectual or technical simulation. Optimizing ads at Google strikes me as super boring and arguably bad for society but those guys get paid hundreds of thousands a year. That's why they have a long line of people who want to work there, not because it's so much more exciting.

The problem with integrators is that we tend to want to only hire experienced techs and basically wind up hiring one another’s techs as they job hop from company to company.

Mark, strongly agreed. My second part essay here argues that the industry should focus on hiring poor and working class background people who will be excited for the opportunity.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Thanks, John! I agree that you do not think that the industry is boring. You all are doing a wonderful job of speaking the truth and putting out the real information on products and systems without the hype. Keep up the good fight.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

OK...I was kidding about wanting to be a phrenologist, but being a rep theses days makes it essential to be able to look inside people's heads.

As regards getting young people to consider the security field, I know of a similar situation in a more frivolous arena and can draw some parallels that might help. I have always been into model trains. The biggest issue facing the hobby is that it is populated by old guys (like me), and it's difficult to get young people interested. I work with national and local hobby organizations to find ways to get the kids interested. New techniques such as letting kids use their smart devices to remotely log into operating models shows promise, as well as other incentivising tactics. Not proposing this for the security industry...just drawing some parallels to the issue of try getting young people involved.

A few things I have done to try promote a security careers for young people:

I go to a local university once a year to a continuing education course and give an evening classes on building and site security to young adults studying to be facilities managers, which in my state is a licensed occupation. The professor brings me in because none of his course materials cover security.

I do a one day class each year to at a career school. The class is attended by people trying to get into a low voltage career...HVAC, electrical, structured cabling, etc. I bring in camera, access control and IP intercom systems to try to "wow" them.

I am working on a course for returning vets to introduce them to the world of security. It will be a short overview, followed by getting them to sign up for online technician's certification courses. I ran this by a few integrators and they all said they would hire a certified vet without hesitation. Working to find a national organization to do the "outreach" part.

The message here is that any security professional truly interested in getting young people involved in their field can look around their own backyards and find ways to reach out to young people and get them to think, "wow".

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative: 3
Unhelpful
Funny: 1

I am working on a course for returning vets to introduce them to the world of security. It will be a short overview, followed by getting them to sign up for online technician's certification courses. I ran this by a few integrators and they all said they would hire a certified vet without hesitation. Working to find a national organization to do the "outreach" part.

That is awesome. I would love to hear more about this as it develops.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

On the end user side, the pipeline is the biggest missed opportunity. In my college career only in one course did I have a speaker who talked about retail assets protection/loss prevention as a career path at length and in detail. In that case it was an ETL-AP from Target who was sharing his career and touting their internship program. I know other institutions like UF prioritize education of the industry (LPRC), but they are the exception.

Most Criminal Justice/Criminology courses focus on the area of study itself and the careers within the public sector. The industry needs to do more campus outreach and internships in order to garner some private sector spotlight. This is an opportunity filled career path with higher earning potential then most realize.

Agree: 2
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Go Gators. Read is an awesome advocate for both the technology and psychology of criminal activities.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Certainly in the UK, I am seeing a massive skills gap with Integrators / installers daily. Unfortunately "Installers" have become "Fitters" - if its broke, replace it, and replace it again if it still doesn't work. The "Engineering" has gone, been watered down, and frankly, devalues what we do.

Its not always the case, but sadly, wages / expectations do still not quite match up to those of traditional IT roles... So it creates a big void - Cable puller, installer, and IT technician don't generally command a premium Salary, and therefore, is seen as a undesirable career path, perhaps we do ourselves an injustice, we are far more specialist that we give ourselves credit for.

The Security Industry here is built up on Electrical Apprentiships, opposed to more IT based skills, because it is heavily weighted that Installers need to know how to install cables, terminate, drill, plug, and fit whatever we get thrown to install..so naturally Electrical Apprentiships fit the lowest common denominator, what's missing is the focus on Technology, Networking, IT Skills, even today, the industry seems to stick to the same old formula, and those Engineers suddenly are expected to discuss all manner of IT networks, and be an expert in IP Video over MPLS WANS - explaining how VBR works in conjunction with MBR to a IT Director that thinks Video is just another Service, and cannot understand why the Cloud isn't a fix all to on premise servers...

I kid you not, recently spoke to an "Engineer" who said he couldn't possibly diagnose a fault on the system because he hadn't been on the correct "Training Course" - i nearly spit out my Tea... I did point out that if its already Broken, then with logical fault finding approaches, what was the worst that could happen ? Actually all it was was a Cat5e patch cable where the lug had broken, worked loose, and simply needed replacing between the patch panel and the switch to get the camera back working, but if i hadn't persevered, the engineer wanted to replace the camera as was "Clearly faulty". 20 minutes fault finding with him, taking it step by step, and it was all fixed. He thought i was a "God like" creature with magical powers... my heart sank.

In truth, most of us simply just learned the hard way.. having to fix it ourselves.. read, google, learn ourselves without any formal qualifications to speak of, and certainly there is no degree in Security systems that i know of.

I have been in the industry since 1988, and started off as Burglar Alarm apprentice, then installer, Multi disciplined service engineer, site supervisor, service manager, technical manager, and these days, Vertical Pre-Sales specialist and generally a human wiki of knowledge :) - so I am blessed with years of experience, and a specific skill set that lends itself to what we do, and a good gut feel for what is needed.

My Dad once lamented that i didn't go into IT, and that i was wasting my natural aptitude for Computing as a (As he saw it) cable installer. How things have changed, i consider myself to be an IT professional, a Specialist in my field, and despite never planning to be here, i find myself at the top of my game, in an industry i never felt would end up being the way it is today.

I often thought what would be if i had gone down a different career path, but here, right now, i couldn't think of an industry that better suits me personally, keeps me motivated, interested, and is always changing and moving forwards, just look at some of the older reports on IPVM to see just how far we have come in such a short period of time.

Its such a shame that we don't actively promote what we do, why we do it, and the benefits of our industry, but for me, after 31 years, i would tell my 16 YO self to do exactly what I've done, we are unique, highly skilled, and valuable in an intangible way.

I'm never going to be a billionaire doing what I do ($250,000 would be a nice starting point), but I am greatful for my fantastic job, and know i have contributed to the wider Security and safely of everyone around me, i feel in my own way, i do my part for society. Not a bad career choice after all, despite what Dad thought. If only he could see me now.

It is food for thought...

Agree: 2
Disagree
Informative: 3
Unhelpful
Funny

Ian there is a whole lot of truth in what you have wrote!

A throw away society with ‘engineers’ that believe they are worth £35-40K but struggle with a relay and some diodes without even a basic comprehension of ohms law.

Oddly, I knew I wanted to be in the security industry when I was about 12 years old. I used to watch the guy service my parents intruder alarm. He would give me the odd old passive or a contact and eventually I had a Logic 4 set up in my bedroom. I’m 37 now and still enjoy the trade. Just looking for the next step up from engineering now.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

I'd like to know how many second, third plus generation employees there are. I know in St. Louis several second generation, a third generation and even a fourth generation running integrators now. Several rep firms are also second generation in my territory.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

This is a topic of discussion and conversation I have had a number of times. This is my story of how I ended up in the industry. In high school I had a plan. My freshman and sophomore year I had a class called Cast. It was a program that was built around TV / movie production. My plan was to go to a vocational program my junior and senior year at our vocational school to continue my knowledge and growth then after high school I was looking to go to Full Sail University for the same industry.

During my sophomore year our vocational school dropped the program I was interested in. So I thought maybe I would do photography, but the programmed was filled. I ended up enrolling in a telecommunications course that was built around partnership with Bell Atlantic. During my two years and at graduation I was awarded the outstanding student award for the class and secured a position doing copier and fax repair for a subsidiary of Xerox.

After about 3 years I was looking for advancement and took a job for a residential company installing alarms, surround sound, multi-room audio, intercom, central vac and structure cabling in new homes. This was my introduction to the low voltage industry.

After sometime I moved out to AZ for a short period of time which is when I got into commercial security. I ended up coming back to NJ and worked in the security industry before going into the residential high end installing Audio/ Video, Home Automation,& Lighting Control.

In 2009 I made the switch back to the commercial security industry and have been CM3 helping build our security integration business for about 11 years now.

Throughout my time in both industries and in both residential and commercial most of the people I talk to did not come out of high school or college to pursue a career in either industry. Most just as myself happen to fall into the industry.

My thoughts are that our industry while it may be something everyone uses people don’t think of it as a career path. When I was in school there was a electrical program and telecommunications program for vacations school. The individual who were in electrical planned on being an electrician and working with high voltage. In the telecommunications program we worked with telecommunications phone and cable industry related items.

I still believe our education system does very little for our industry. In the last year our company had the opportunity to visit and speak with some classes at a community college. Once again it was and electrical class, but now it was an Information Technology class. The students in these classes really didn’t know anything about a career in our industry.

On another note a few years ago a community college in NJ started a program directly related to our industry. When I saw the article I thought this would be great for students entering the workforce. They would be aware of the industry and would be looking to enter our industry. In turn it could be great for employers as well. Unfortunately I can’t saw what the results are since communication with the school about the has been difficult.

My final observation is that the technician pool. There are techs who have not migrated from the analog days and are weak in computer networking. However these techs generally have a better knowledge or relays and electrical.

Then you have the younger generation who is more familiar with technology, computers and networking, but tend to lack the knowledge from years ago that the older generation posses.

The third desired skill that is required is the ability to work with your hands and posses carpentry skills since we are often used for installation of various equipment and door hardware.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative: 5
Unhelpful
Funny

In regards to salary compensation years ago when I was in the field I could say there was a large swing in salary. This really was based on residential or commercial, size of company and what market the company plays in.

I can safely say that in our market we probably have the highest earning technicians. This is due to a competitive salary and plenty of prevailing wage rate work so it easy to pull in over 100K working 40 hours a week. Even with this earning potential proven year after year you still have trouble recruiting.

Agree
Disagree
Informative: 2
Unhelpful
Funny

30 years from now, is he going to lament that he did not grow up to be a dinosaur and some mean man stripped him of his dream? Doubt it.

Don't Lose Your Dinosaur

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny: 4

Our company always employed apprentices.Our logic was that without training one have expect less from the people you employ.There is a commitment from both the employer and the apprentice for four years here in Australia. In a small way to assist school kids in deciding on their future, we offered an local high school students to have a work practice during school holidays.Our service manager carried out the necessary arrangements. One day I happened to walk past when a student was signing up. In an conversation with him asked what his plans for the future was. He said he been for a long time dreaming to get in to electronic security industry. Local university run courses to suit the trade. I came past our service manager when he was signing of the report card for the student I spoke to earlier. I asked him how he liked the experience.He was amendment that this was not a future for him and he was focusing on a totally different trade. To me that was a fantastic outcome.

Had he gone through the normal channels and signed up for an four year apprenticeship he found out later to dislike, been miserable and quit.Waste of time and money for both parties.

We did get students that liked what they practiced and later got them self's and entered in to apprenticeships in the industry.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Related video about why not to 'follow your passion':

Agree: 3
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

I had no desire to be in this industry. I grew up working for a small family business pulling wire, terminating cable, troubleshooting, and other generic things for my dad. It taught me a lot and I knew how to use a wide range of tools for various industry's but I wasn't planning on going into low voltage work.

Life happens and I needed a new source of income so I got a job putting that knowledge to work. 15+ years later I've brought in many outsiders into the industry and shown them how diverse we are in jobs/tech/opportunities and they have created successful careers for themselves. Again, they had no desire or understanding of what our field does.

The skills we pick up working on all the connecting systems (door hardware/elevators/control systems/audio/networking/etc) beyond the security products and the personal network we can build are what tends to keep people in our industry. It's a vicious bubble we have, but we need to focus on bringing in new people to augment the loss of knowledgeable ones every year. This industry is pretty recession resistant and can provide a stable career but not enough people know about it.

Agree: 1
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

The last few people I've seen IPVM hire are:

- West Point Undergrad / NYU Stern MBA

- Cornell Undergrad

- Yale Undergrad

- Columbia Undergrad, King's College London Masters

Of course, you're probably not going to get a Yale Alum to stand guard or pull cable, but you're also not going to get a Yale Alum to work as a receptionist at McKinsey either.

I don't think people care as much about "industry prestige" as you would think, but the function of the job matters more.

People want to do work that they find challenging, where they can work with good people, where they can grow personally and professionally, and of course, where they get paid commensurate with their skill set.

If you have good leaders that can create a working environment with the above attributes, there's no reason why you can't attract great talent in the security industry.

Agree
Disagree: 1
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny

Attention all cognitive dissonance Olympians: While you may not find the security industry a complete waste of intellectual time and participation, know that evolution awaits and you can one day be lifted out of the closed loop security industry.

Agree
Disagree
Informative
Unhelpful
Funny
Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts reporting, tutorials and software funded by subscriber's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.
Loading Related Reports