Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Go Ahead, Take the ISP Certification Exam

Industrial Security Professional (ISP) Certification is growing in popularity. According to the Society of Industrial Security Professionals (NCMS), the number of ISP Certified members is increasing rapidly. That's great news for those in industrial security as we are now moving toward more credibility. This growth may be due to the recent ramping up of the program and emphasis placed by local level NCMS chapters. Also, as more people become certified, others maybe viewing their success as motivation and increasing their own confidence levels.

Seeing more and more peers meeting the qualifications and passing the exam may make it more of an attainable goal.

The test is not easy and neither are the qualifications to take the exam. Those with over five years of experience protecting classified information are eligible to take the exam. There are other qualifications and a visit to NCMS's ISP Certification website will provide all the information one needs about the program. NCMS also hosts a study course to help prepare candidates for the exam.

Why certify? Professionalism, respect of peers and a sense of pride for the individual and the company they represent. Certification demonstrates a willingness to grow and commit to the career. Studying for the ISP Certification exam is not to be taken lightly. Those who protect classified information are probably doing a great job protecting sensitive information in their cleared contractor facilities. However, passing the certification requires broader learning and experience.

Where a defense contractor may only maintain personnel clearances (PCL) and have approval for a non-possessing facility clearance (FCL), the test encompasses the entire National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) and related forms and regulations.

For example, XYZ Contracting is a non-possessing facility and all classified work is performed at a Government location. The FSO's day to day operations focuses on ensuring employees' PCLs are up to date. In this situation they do not have experience with receiving and storing classified information, dissemination, classified processing on information systems, foreign ownership, control and Influence (FOCI), International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) and many other areas addressed in the NISPOM. They may be lacking the skills and know how to perform these functions.

However, there is hope. A good understanding of NISPOM can help. The good news is that the test does not require an acute knowledge of regulations, just the ability to find the answers to questions. A person well versed in how to find answers to security scenarios in the NISPOM can pass the test. Study groups and opportunities are available from NCMS, vendors and contractors. NCMS has a mentorship program offering a study group with a proven track record. There are also several companies offering training that can help students pass the exam. Additionally, the ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual; Or How to Study for and Pass the ISP Certification Exam is available at Redbikepublishing.com or Amazon.com as a terrific supplement to any study program. NCMS has recently announce a plan to increased its study group fee to $50.00 for members and $100.00 for non members. Other programs range from a few hundred to several hundred dollars. So far, Red Bike Publishing's book is the best priced and already has a proven track record.

Whatever study method or combination of study methods you use, make a plan to take the certification. Your career and professional growth may depend on it.

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