What do you do for a living?

I am security consultant that specializes in regulatory security, more specifically in the energy sector.

How would you describe what you do?

If it turns on, for example, the gas in your car, the lights in your house, anything like that, it is regulated by the Department of Homeland Security.  So we help clients stay compliant with the regulations.

What does your work entail?

I mainly do a lot of threat assessments, security vulnerability assessments, and mitigate risk.  So I tell you how you are vulnerable, and how to fix it, and assist you with fixing it.

Our threats are generally more directed towards terrorism.  The regulations that Department of Homeland Security has implemented are more specific to terrorists.  They’re not directed to a 16-year old kid that’s shooting his .22.  They’re directed towards terrorism.

For example, you have a rig offshore, there’s probably, I don’t know the exact number, 1,000 to 1,200 rigs offshore.  These rigs are either producing oil or pumping oil into the United States. 

I like the fact that what I do protects the United States of America’s critical infrastructure.

There are several rigs off the Gulf of Mexico that hold or push 9% of natural gas back to the mainland.  If you take that rig out, you have just lost 9% of your natural gas.  Think if you lost that 9% during the wintertime, the economic impact of losing that rig.  It would be very significant.

We help people like that do risk assessments and stay compliant with Government security regulations.

What does a typical workweek look like for you as security consultant?

There is really no typical workweek for me.  For example, this week is a little bit slow, I’m managing the Gulf of Mexico assets for one of my clients this week. The following week I’ll be in Trinidad, the week after that, I will be in Canada.  So, there is no “typical” workweek.  I did an executive protection detail on Monday that I found out about on Saturday.  That’s what I really enjoy about this job actually.  There is no sitting in an office, staring at a computer.

I travel frequently.  I would say 35-40% of the time.  I can go an entire month without traveling and then the next month I’ll be gone constantly.

How did you get started in this career?

I was taking a class – and interview and interrogation class – in college and we had a guest speaker come in who was a deputy sheriff.  I asked to speak to him after class.  The next day I was at the sheriff’s department interviewing, and the week after that, I was hired by them as a deputy sheriff.  So it was kind of a progression – a very strange progression, but a progression nonetheless, from law enforcement to security manager for a Fortune 500 company, into the consulting world.

What do you like about what you do?

My favorite thing about what I do and the company I work for is the flexibility, and the change of pace.  It’s very dynamic.  It is not static at all.  I’m constantly sending my wife my Outlook calendar because I can’t keep up with myself and she can’t keep up with me, so it’s fun in the sense that I’m doing different things.  A lot of times, I’m not away from home, I’m able to come home every night and spend time with my family, but the change of pace is just astronomical.  I deal with multiple clients and they’re all, for the most part, Fortune 500 clients, so you get a lot of different personalities and backgrounds with the people that you work with.

What do you dislike about the job?

I cannot stand going offshore.  The first time I went offshore, I was very excited because it was my first time in a helicopter.  You fly out there, but what you don’t think about is, once you leave the mainland, there’s nothing to look at except for water.  The chances of you seeing a dolphin flying through the water, or a whale are slim to none. So, you fly out there and I feel like you’re flying to jail because once you fly to this rig, the helicopter leaves and you’re sitting there doing the work and you’re confined, you stay the night and the helicopter picks you up the next day.  So offshore work is my least favorite.

How do you make money or how are you compensated?

Salary plus quarterly bonuses.

How much money do you make as a security consultant ?

In our industry, depending on your experience and your background, and your specialty.  There are some consultants that write nothing but high level security plans.  There are consultants that specialize in the regulatory security.  For example, my company specializes in about five areas.  So we have to know the regulations of CTFATS, CFATS, MTSA, TSA Pipeline Security, Canadian Security Standards.  You have to have the experience, about 13-15 years of experience at a bare minimum.  So that salary range would start at about $100,000 and up, and fortunately for my company, we are set up as having a quarterly bonus.  In my company, you can make typically anywhere from $100,000 plus to $200,000, depending on how well the company does, and your experience and background.  Right now I’m closer to the $130,000 mark.

Would you say there are any perks associated with this career?

Personally, my perk is not necessary a perk in vacation time or benefits.  My perk is working with multiple people and their different backgrounds.  I’m working with the best of the best people, and the best of the best in the security industry, from high ranking security officials in government to a director of security of for a major oil company.  That’s a perk for me because I’m able to learn from these different experiences and different backgrounds.

What education or skills are needed to be a security consultant?

If you can get into this without having some type of military or law enforcement background, in our industry, you either know somebody or you’ve done good for yourself.

Obviously you need to have a Bachelor’s Degree.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be in law enforcement or criminal justice, but a law enforcement background or a military background is going to help you.  Right now, I’m in graduate school and I’m taking graduate school to get a Master’s in security management for executives.  There are certifications you can get within our industry that definitely help out.  The American Society for Industrial Security has multiple certifications.  Without the military or law enforcement experience, then you’ll want to get these certifications and maybe even some graduate school.  That’s been my route, at least.

As far as skills, I wouldn’t say there are any specific skills needed.  You can latch on to a mentor, that has proved vital to me.  I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by multiple people.  To give you an example, my boss right now has been a long-time friend of mine and actually a co-worker at a previous company.

I would say anybody who is coming up and wants to be in this industry, and it’s a very big industry, with a lot of people and a lot of money in it, the best way to improve yourself very quickly without having to go back to school, is to shadow a mentor.

What is the most challenging about what you do?

I would say juggling clients and keeping up on clients.  The work is challenging in itself, but I would say you need some organizational skills.  In the consulting world if you have one client you might be doomed.  Your life expectancy in the consulting in world is going to be hurt.  You need multiple clients and these multiple clients demand that you be available for them.  That’s my challenge.  It’s like, “Man, this guy wants me in Trinidad this week, while the other guy wants me in Canada the following week”.  Juggling that can be a challenge.

What is most rewarding about what you do?

I like the fact that what I do protects the United States of America’s critical infrastructure.  I loved law enforcement, and that was fun and I enjoyed every second of it.  I thought that was where I was headed to and I found a different route.  So, I feel like I’m doing something very similar to that and still protecting the U.S. critical infrastructure and I feel like what I do counts.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

I would strongly recommend an internship.  I think internships are vital.  That’s how I started with the sheriff’s department, as an intern.  That has pushed me leaps and bounds further down the road in my career.  Once you get into the industry, get that mentor. Find that mentor, find somebody who is willing to take some extra time out of their day to say “this is how it’s done, this is why it’s done that way and here’s the end result” and you’re going to learn a ton.

How much time off do you get or take with this job?

We’re given four weeks up front.  We have four weeks and we’re able to carry one week over.  For example, this year I have four weeks plus an additional carryover week, so I have five weeks.  Plus all the national holidays and Christmas and that type of thing.  Do I take it all?  Not really.  I consider some of my slow days as a vacation day.  Like today for example, I’m not 100% busy, so I don’t take all of my vacation days, my company is very lenient as long as your getting your work done.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

It’s funny that you ask that.  I was a director of security for Enron, through the bankruptcy.  I managed their global security through the bankruptcy, and I wore the typical slacks and dress shirt to work, business casual every day.  I remember coming home one day.  I got out of the car.  I walked to the sidewalk and picked up the newspaper and two houses down, my neighbor says to me, “Hey, where you coming from?” and I said, “I’m coming from work”.  She said, “I thought you were a security guard?”  There’s nothing wrong with being a security guard but you tell people, “I’m in the security industry” and the first thing they think about is the security guard.

What are your goals and dreams for the future in this career?

For me, I like the international side.  It’s intriguing and different, so my goal is to do more international work.  I don’t necessarily want to be a director of security at a major company, I think that’s restrictive and I like the flexibility I have right now.  I like where I’m at, it’s only going forward.  Regulatory security will be around for a long time, because there’s always going to be terrorism.  I wouldn’t mind owning my own security firm, but I don’t see that happening right now.  I’m pretty happy where I am.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

There’s a lot of potential in our industry for people.  It’s a very dynamic industry.  For me, I just want people to know that, you see these levels of government and law enforcement, but there’s thousands of people under them that are protecting the company as well.  The industry is so dynamic that there is room for growth, tons of potential worldwide, so I would encourage someone who is interested in law enforcement to at least look at the security aspect of it as well.  Do your career in law enforcement, 5-6-8-10 years or whatever you want to do, but know that there is a whole other industry that is completely dynamic.  It’s a lot of fun, I enjoy myself.