Certification Profile: Terry Culver, CPP
Terry Culver fell into a security management career. She had been working for several years for the U.S. Department of Defense in another field of work. About three years after being transferred out of Washington, D.C., she was recruited by a Fortune 500 defense contractor in the Atlanta area to run its contract security program. She became the facility security officer and assumed the role of security manager when her mentor retired.
While there, management of the overall corporate security program was something Culver grew into rapidly.
“If you are in this field in a management capacity, it’s fast paced. Situations can change rapidly, and it’s a job in which you must be thick-skinned, have strong management skills, think on your feet, and be detail-oriented,” she shares. “Most of those skills I brought with me, but the security management skills were not there yet.”
A friend who had his own security company recommended that Culver join ASIS International—and she did so in the early 1990s, attending local Atlanta Chapter meetings. She saw that there was more to the security management field than what she was doing and that, through ASIS training, mentoring, and networking, she could aspire to a higher management position in the field.
Culver pursued the ASIS Certified Protection Professional (CPP®) certification and successfully passed the exam on her first try in 1997. She received an immediate bump to her pay and changed her career trajectory at this point.
“The CPP was the crown,” she reflects. “It is often a requirement in job announcements. That’s a big deal because its reputation for excellence tells employers that a CPP is going to be a good choice for them.”
“The CPP means you’re a security expert, whether it’s management, education, training, physical security, counterintelligence, or counterterrorism, you’ve got some expertise in the entire field. You become the go-to person for most security issues,” says Culver, who is also a Certified Master Anti-Terrorism Specialist (CMAS).
Culver recommends that candidates for ASIS certification become ASIS members.
“Start attending local chapter meetings and study groups if you can,” she says. “Definitely network with people who are already in management positions in a variety of organizations—government, corporate, services—and learn from them. Attend at least one GSX before you attempt certification, but absolutely do it if this is your chosen field. It lets the world know you are an expert and you know what you are doing!”
Culver now serves as security program specialist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, where she focuses on security education and compliance. Culver directs security training for nearly 2,000 employees and manages security communications. She also provides input on policies and procedures and investigates security incidents. She recommends a security career to those she encounters who have aptitude, attention to detail, and drive.
“When I was an instructor for an online university teaching an associate degree in security management and a certification course, I encouraged my students to join ASIS as a good first step and to become members in their local chapters,” she reflects. “The networking is key for local areas. We often hire from each other, after all!”
Profile by Steven Barnett, ASIS communications Specialist