IFPO Certified Protection Officer Program Overview

certified protection officer

Are you looking for an impactful way to boost your security guard career? Even though the majority of states require some form of licensing or certification, this only demonstrates baseline understanding and skill. In many cases, if you wish to advance in your career or demand a higher paycheck, additional training and certification is the quickest and most efficient avenue.

But, there’s a problem.

Unlike other professional licensed careers, security guard training and certification programs aren’t as easy to pinpoint. If you’ve spent any time in this industry, then you’re already aware of the overwhelming number of scam institutions or unaccredited “certificate” programs.

While there aren’t very many officially recognized certification organizations in the United States, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a security guard to advance their knowledge and skillsets. It only means a little extra attention to detail is needed when reviewing potential programs.

If you’re searching for a nationally recognized and highly esteemed security guard certification, few institutions are as respected as the International Foundation for Protection Officers, or IFPO.

Whether you have years of experience or are just starting to dabble into the complex and important role of security guard, IFPO certification is guaranteed to expand both your knowledge and career opportunities.

The following overview covers everything you need to know when it comes to earning the IFPO Certified Protection Officer designation. Without further ado, let’s dive into the secure world of this comprehensive certification program.

The International Foundation for Protection Officers – A Brief Rundown

As a non-profit organization, the IFPO isn’t fueled by income or business success. When compared to other high-level certifying organizations, the absence of for-profit business models and goals is the common thread, even when their industries are complete separate.

This is something you need to review when searching for any certification. Is the issuing agency committed to the positive progress of the industry, or are they primarily concerned with lining their own pockets? The best certifying organizations are those where profits are used to enhance the quality of their training and industry outreach.

Thankfully, these are the qualities of the International Foundation for Protection Officers.

Founded in 1988, and headquartered in Naples, Florida, the IFPO has consistently remained the largest advocate and provider of security guard training and certification. Their work in this industry has created international standards for guard training, qualifications and job responsibilities. By centralizing and standardizing security guard and protection officer responsibilities, they’ve helped to craft industry expectations that benefit employee, employer and clients.

Ultimately, the International Foundation for Protection Officers is the Harvard of training and certifying within the security personnel industry.

Certified Protection Officer Program (CPO) Overview

So, what exactly is the Certified Protection Officer Program (CPO)? More importantly, how can completing this designation boost not only your efficiency at work, but also your future career opportunities?

First and foremost, earning the CPO designation separates you from non-certified peers. With nearly 30 years of experience certifying security personnel, the majority of employers find applicants holding a CPO certification are more desirable. In the most simplified snapshot, holding this certificate instantly elevates you above other job applicants

But, the benefits don’t stop there. Even those who are gainfully employed find earning the CPO designation paramount for career advancement. Not only does this additional training enhance the efficiency and value in the eyes of current employers, but this positive momentum often translates to pay increases and promotions. In fact, some employers actually pay for this program as they understand its impact far outweighs its initial monetary investment.

While we’ll dive deeper into specific details in the next section, the Certified Protection Officer Program is, essentially, the premier training module for new and established security guards and/or protection officers.

Covering fundamental concepts and advanced security techniques, students in this program are put through a total of 80 coursework hours. This hefty curriculum is one of the principle factors separating this program from all others.

At the completion of the 80 hour training phase, students must pass an intensive final exam to earn the CPO certification. This in-depth testing phase covers all the topics and notions detailed throughout training. In the eyes of employers, passing this exam highlights your current knowledge of trends and delivers verifiable proof of your competency, which are two notoriously difficult qualifications to quantify.

CPO Program Curriculum Overview

As mentioned earlier, the CPO Certification Program is among the most intensive of its kind. Covering over 40 specific topics, the amount of information you’ll learn throughout its 80 hours is both vast and specific. If you’re an experienced security professional, you may find the topics covered too entry-level, but holding this designation is definitely worth relearning established protocol.

Of course, those with years of experience may be more qualified to take the Certified in Security Supervision and Management (CSSM) program, which then leads into the top-tier Certified Protection Professional (CPP) program, which is the most advanced certification available.

It’s common for aspiring students to feel overwhelmed by the notion of undertaking over 40 units of study, but don’t worry. The training format is designed to not only impart knowledge, but to also train entry-level security professionals as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Topics covered in the CPO curriculum relate to both administrative and practical components of this profession. While you’ll learn how to prepare and plan your career, this coursework covers high-level theoretical topics, such as The Protection Officer as a Leader an Crisis Intervention. Along with this coursework, be prepared to learn best practices for Interviewing and Collecting Statements, as well as a thorough investigation into Patrol Principles.

Beyond the theoretical and knowledge-based coursework, curriculum also dives into the physical component of working as a security guard. You’ll investigate topics dealing with the Use of Force and Defensive Tactics for Officer Safety. Other related topics include: Apprehension and Detention Procedures, Environmental Crime Control and Security Risk Management.

Ultimately, coursework is designed to enhance the emotional, legal and physical elements of the security professional career. Even if you’ve taken coursework like this in the past, rapid developments within the security industry catalyze swift change to policies, procedures and tools. Because of this, it’s important for even the most experienced security officer undergo training at least every two years, but we’ll cover that momentarily.

CPO Program Training Options – Online or Distance Learning

Did you know there’s a difference between online training and distance learning? While both are technically “distance” learning as you don’t have to go to a physical building, the process of each are strikingly different.

Here’s a brief rundown of both training options:

  • Online Training – Out of the two options, this is the most convenient and efficient. If you’re familiar with online training programs, then you’re already a master of this layout. Along with providing students with text-based information, coursework also provides a more dynamic and user-centric training format. Because this online training program is 100% digital, there are no textbooks or other additional materials. As long as you have a computer and internet access, you can start class whenever’s good for you. This option is ideal for busy professionals or those with little free time.
  • Distance Learning – Traditional distance learning involves physical textbooks and replicates the learning modalities of a classroom environments. If you choose this option, then you’ll be required to fully read and comprehend “The Professional Protection Officer” official textbook. Confirm which edition the program uses before purchasing. Like the online training program, the distance learning program is self-directed, which means, you won’t have any assistance throughout the training coursework.

CPO Certification Program Entry Requirements

Unlike other professional certification organizations, the CPO Certification Program features relatively relaxed and accommodating entry requirements. Basic qualifications are either work experience or education based.

These include:

  • Work Experience – The IFPO requires applicants to have a minimum of 6 months of full-time, or 1 year of part-time, work as a security guard or protection officer. Be prepared to provide certification documentation, such as pay stubs and employer references.
  • Education Qualifier – While not a 100% guarantee, if you’re currently enrolled in a classroom-based training program that’s related to the security industry or this position specifically, then you may qualify to enroll in the CPO Certification Program. To determine whether your current schooling qualifies, contact IFPO certification experts online or by calling.
  • Final Challenge Option – Lastly, those who have ample work and training experience may qualify to completely skip buying training modules and jump right into the certification exam. Of course, you’ll still need access to curriculum. This option is ideal for those who have access to training materials, for example, a group of coworkers split the cost of the training materials and only have to individually pay for the final exam. It should be noted that the Final Challenge Option doesn’t come with midterm exams or other exam prep materials.
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