In order to attract and retain quality candidates for your department as well as reward existing high performing officers, security departments need methods to not only recognize such candidates but also give them something to strive for while in their present positions rather than simply waiting for a lead or supervisory position to become available. Our security department, as is the case with many, has a limited level of job classifications and therefore those officers with drive and initiative many times have limited opportunity for advancement and become discouraged, seeking such opportunities elsewhere. Many a good officer has left for greener pastures simply because there was no significant way to develop their career.
We began researching the establishment of a career development program several years ago and have based it in part upon the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) certification programs. This process would provide not only educational opportunities for new officers, but would also develop and maintain training standards for personnel already with the department. For the individual deciding to advance their career through these certifications, this would offer many benefits including recognition of voluntarily achieved standards, competence and designation as an IAHSS certified officer, career enhancement and additional compensation and an increased value to our department by achieving a higher level of professional expertise. 
Our department has two basic levels of non-supervisory personnel, designated as Security Officer I and Security Officer II (SO-1 and SO-2). The SO-1 is the backbone of the department, and makes up the majority of front line personnel. SO-2 positions are less common, and require special training and skills for the duties these posts require (SO-2 positions also have a higher starting pay, and a broader compensation range than that of a SO-1).
We created criteria for an SO-1’s eligibility to take the IAHSS Basic certification exam which includes:
  • Term of at least six (6) months as a  security department employee (including a three month probationary period)
  • No written reprimands received in the past six (6) months
  • Recommendation from their supervisor and an  interest in the program
Should the SO-I successfully complete the IAHSS Basic Certification course, he or she is granted a 2 percent general wage increase and receives preferred status when a promotion to Security Officer II becomes available (the Basic certification would not be the sole factor for determining advancement but would definitely be taken into consideration when deciding upon promotions).  The same criteria are applied to SO 2 candidates that have completed their IAHSS Basic certification and wish to take the IAHSS Advanced certification program.
Successful completion of both Basic and Advanced certifications, an officer receives a 5 percent cumulative wage increase (2 percent for passing the Basic exam, 3 percent for the Advanced) and SO-2 personnel would receive preferred status when a promotion to Lead or Supervisory position becomes available. Again, these certifications are not the sole means of determining advancement but possessing them is seen favorably should that officer apply for a Lead or Supervisory role.
In addition to the general wage increase, after successfully completing each IAHSS program, officers receive an IAHSS pin designating their accomplishment and current level of certification and a special uniform patch identifying them as “certified healthcare security officers”. Officers can take pride in their achievement, and serve as a role model to others who have not yet undertaken the certification process.
By using the IAHSS certification programs in conjunction with other educational programs, we are offering our personnel more than just a means of monetary increase. Through continuing education and professional certification we have instilled a real sense of pride in our officers as well as providing career development opportunities for them. By doing so, our department attracts and retains the best candidates for the challenging but rewarding career of healthcare security.