Education in the physical security sector remains remarkably low. According to a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, only 12 percent of security professionals have bachelor’s degrees, 42 percent have some college, and the remaining 46 percent have a high school diploma or less. However, many leading security professionals throughout the industry are working to change those statistics by putting education at the forefront of their security programs.
Marilyn Hollier, CPP, CHPA, is the director of HHC Security Services at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers. In her leadership role, she has made it one of her career objectives to ensure her security staff has the opportunity to achieve a higher level of education.
In January of 2014, Hollier will have a wider opportunity to share her outlook on education with other security leaders when she takes the helm as president of the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS). As president she will continue building the membership of hospitals around the country and the world promoting training and certification programs. IAHSS has also recently developed an educational partnership with American Military University to promote the value of education within the security industry. This partnership will jointly encourage those in the hospital security profession to pursue higher levels of education and help “professionalize” the security industry.
“I want a well-educated staff to help us be successful,” said Hollier. “As a leader, I tell all my employees that they are resources—their success is mine and my success is theirs.” She encourages all her employees to get their bachelor’s, master’s or other certifications. Employees are offered incentives to further their education, from bonuses after they complete programs to flexible work hours to account for school schedules.
The proof of her dedication to education is in the numbers. Out of her 166 staff members:
- 12 have high school diplomas
- 20 have Associate’s degrees
- 123 have Bachelor’s degrees
- 11 have Master’s degrees
Hollier makes a point to talk about education even during the interview process. “Before they sign on the dotted line, we make a verbal contract where they agree that they will train beyond their job,” she said. “They understand they are resources to this department and that I want them to be successful and continue their education if they can. It’s a win for us and a win for them.”
She attributes her focus on education partially to her own career experiences, specifically addressing some of the obstacles she faced during her early career. After getting her master’s degree in Urban Studies/Human Resources in 1987, Hollier said she had difficulty getting recognition for her academic achievements. “I struggled to get law enforcement and/or security leadership positions because I was often more educated than the people interviewing me,” she said. “I would think to myself: ‘I’m a resource to help you be successful,’ but they often saw me as a threat. That stayed with me and I learned from that,” she said.
Hollier also stresses the importance of professional certifications. Many on her leadership team have obtained theirs. She has eight Certified Healthcare Protection Administrators (CHPA) through IAHSS, four Certified Protection Professionals (CPP) and one Physical Security Professional (PSP) through ASIS International.
She has found that education helps build self-esteem and confidence among her employees. “It is common sense to me,” she said. “You get good at your job when you have a combination of education and experience. Education teaches you tools that you can try out in your job.”
Leischen Stelteris the coordinator of Social Media Integration at American Military University, writing about issues and trends in the physical security and public safety sectors. Stelter is the former managing editor of Security Director News. In addition to contributing to AMU Security Info, she also manages the blog, In Public Safety, which focuses on issues and trends in law enforcement, fire services, emergency management and national intelligence.