I wanted to do a post about this subject because of all of the emails I have been getting lately. In the past, I have hinted at this kind of stuff before, but I think now it deserves it’s own post. The top question I get is ‘how do you become a security contractor without any military or police background?’. My top reply is for individuals to join the military or police, and get that background–with an emphasis on the combat arms and duty in the war. That by far is the best route to go, and you will come up against the least amount of friction in this industry as you pursue your career in security contracting.
With that said, there is a way to become a gun carrying security contractor without that four year degree in the combat arms. The loophole I am talking about is to become a paramedic. In my career, I have personally met three security contractors without any military or police background, that got their job as a gun carrying contractor because of their medical qualifications. From PSD work to disaster response to site security work–these non-military/police contractors worked those gigs as gun carrying medical guys. Although not purely shooters, they are armed non-the-less, with an emphasis on their medical qualifications. That is what they were hired for, and they are right along side the guys who were contracted as shooters–much like how a combat medic is used in a military unit.
All three medical contractors I had met, were armed by their company so that they could defend self and/or client. Out of the three I had met, two of them had invested in security/weapons training to supplement their medical certifications so they could be less of a liability in the field. Most of them had to go through the same overseas type deployment spin up course, or similar company vetting to ensure they could operate well with whatever team they were assigned to. But to put it bluntly, paramedics/nurses/doctors are all highly valuable assets to companies, and companies will bend over backwards to get these guys out there on contract, and especially when medical assets are required for a specific contract. A company must look beyond a lack of military or police background with a job seeker to fulfill a contract requirement, just because there isn’t enough qualified medical folks out there willing to do this kind of work.
Which is the one caveat that I tell folks when they pursue this loophole of contracting. I suggest to folks to not only get their paramedic certification, but to also invest in excellent security/weapons training that will at least introduce to them the basics of how to operate out there. I really emphasize the weapons schools because most of the companies will have their medical contractors do a shooting test with the weapon they will be issued in the field as a requirement of the contract. At the least, a contractor should be proficient with a pistol and rifle, and any investment in weapons training will pay off in the long run when you pass that shooting test and get that six figure job overseas.
To take this a step further. If by chance you are able to sign on to the WPS program, you will have to shoot and qualify with some of the belt fed weapons that this program uses. I have even heard of medical officers being used in training to teach the usage of weapons like the AK 47 or PKM on the TWISS program. The point here is that once you get involved as a security/medical contractor, you should expect to be around weapons and know how to use them if you want to be useful and a non-liability to the team. So get some good reputable weapons training, and learn the fundamentals. I suggest CSAT as a an excellent starting point if you are looking for ideas.
Of course you must also maintain your fitness level because companies will require a PT test as per the contract. Keep up to date mentally by following the latest news in this industry through the forums and blogs. You must also ensure your background checks clean for any kind of clearance issues, because in this war, the US government is using the ‘security clearance’ as a means of vetting. So keep your finances in check, keep your nose clean and do not lie on your SF 86 form.
The most important thing though is to maintain your paramedic certification and stay up to date on all the medical protocols. If you are a former 18 Delta or military medic, I still suggest getting the paramedic certification because it will help you to bridge your military experience to the civilian world.
I would even suggest some exposure to military themed medicine (TCCC) for those without a military/police background, through some of the private schools that offer such things. Deployment Medicine International is one such company that I can recommend, and with a search, you can find others. Also, you can learn more about training by talking with other medical contractors via the forums. That is what’s called networking and getting ‘locked on’, which will help you big time in your security contracting career.
Now I am sure there are other ways of becoming a security contractor besides the medical route, and hopefully some folks will put their ideas down in the comments section. But personally, the medical angle is probably one of the best ways that I have seen to accomplish this task. It is also one of those certifications that will be quite useful when you are done doing the overseas contracting game and are wanting to settle back home. You could spend all that money you earned on going to Nursing school or similar, and advance your career in the medical world. The experience you gained as a medical professional in the war zones will also be highly respected back home in the hospitals and ambulances.
The other thing that I wanted to touch upon is that if you are a security contractor with a military or police background, and are wanting to increase your marketability in this industry, then getting a paramedic or EMT certification would be an outstanding move. Even with executive protection gigs, out of two guys with equal shooter backgrounds applying for the same job, the guy that can save the client medically will be of higher value than the guy that does not have any medical experience or certifications. If you want an edge in this highly competitive world of security contracting overseas or at home, get that paramedic certification. To me this is all about being the ‘Useful Contractor‘ and diversifying your capabilities.(Miyamoto Musashi would approve) This one investment could save your buddy or client’s life, it could get you that high dollar contract you have been dreaming about, and it could keep you marketable in a highly competitive industry both CONUS or OCONUS for years to come. Something to think about if you are coming up against a wall in your career path, or wanting to get a foot into the door of this highly competitive industry. –Matt