Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to Prepare for the NCMS Industrial Security Professional (ISP) Certification Exam

Recently the NCMS (Society of Industrial Security Professionals) National Seminar organizers announced the incredible news that a record number of security professionals have taken and passed the Industrial Security Professional (ISP) Certification Exam. Their diligence and study planned have successfully led them to the distinguished title of Industrial Security Professional. We congratulate all the new ISPs; well deserved and we wish you continued success.

We’d like to encourage those who haven’t tested to develop a plan and take the exam. According to recent testimonies, ISP Certified individuals stated that they received promotions, raises and respect almost immediately. You can see these comments on the NCMS website. Additionally, resumes posted on the site are now requesting that candidates have the ISP designation.

According to the NCMS Website, there are a few minimum requirements potential candidates must meet before applying for the ISP Certification Exam. Those who meet these requirements have a better chance of passing the certification exam. Test candidates must have at least five years of experience in industrial security, working in security at least part time as part of their job description and a letter of recommendation from their supervisor. If they don’t have a supervisor, they can contact an NCMS chapter chair for further guidance.

Five years experience in industrial Security; working at least part time in security

You wouldn’t want to attempt this test without this level of experience. The test is designed to check a tester’s knowledge of NISPOM and how to protect classified information in cleared contractor facilities. Those who have five years experience have probably practiced the skills necessary to take the exam.

This requirement translates to protecting classified information according to NISPOM. This opens the door for engineers, program managers, security monitors and others who have spend considerable time working with and protecting classified information. There are exceptions to the industrial security part. For example, if you’ve protected classified information in any capacity, you may be eligible. Prior to taking my ISP Certification exam I had only my government security experience. Though it wasn’t NISPOM based experience, I requested and received NCMS’ approval.

Don’t confuse experience with the need to study.

Fortunately the ISP Certification Exam is an open book test of the NISPOM. No one is expected to know every word of the NISPOM, just how to find the appropriate answers. The exam is made of 110 questions with 100 of the questions relating to NISPOM and the remaining in an elective area. Even with the five years of experience, potential candidates should develop a study plan. Some recommendations include: joining the NCMS study group, creating a local study group and practicing how to quickly search NISPOM. 110 questions in two hours goes fast so practice often.

Some practical ways to prepare

Schedule a test date-You have a year once you schedule to take the online exam. Setting the date is the toughest part. But a ticking clock is sometimes a good motivator

Take part in security inspections-this helps familiarize you to possibly new areas of NISPOM.

Practice other industrial security disciplines-If you work in a large organization, expose yourself to other NISPOM security disciplines. For example, if you work in personnel security learn some things about document control.

Familiarize yourself with NISPOM structure-Go through the table of contents and familiarize yourself with chapters. Its easier to search for training requirements when you know that training is in Chapter 3. Searching a few pages in chapter 3 is easier than searching the entire NISPOM.

In conclusion, register for the exam, set a date, and begin a study program.

You can find study recommendations, practice questions and NISPOM links at

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