Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Fairmont State Community & Technical College Center for Workforce Education is offering a new short-term program that provides training for those interested in employment as a protection officer. This 80-hour course provides the skills and knowledge to perform the roles, duties and responsibilities of a protection officer.

"The protection officer training program will significantly improve the job performance and job enjoyment of those presently working in the field, who strive for high levels of career achievement and who hope to gain a broader understanding of the principles of asset protection in the interest of the public, clients and employees," said Paul Schreffler, Director of Economic Development & Workforce Education at Fairmont State. "Successful students find that the program significantly improves job performance and job enjoyment by providing a broader understanding of the security field."

The 80-hour, non-academic-credit training program is designed to prepare individuals to take the national certification exam to become a Certified Protection Officer (CPO). The certification, offered by the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO), can be achieved after successfully completing the program and passing the independent IFPO examination.

The principal instructor for the program, Dean Van Bibber, is a Certified IFPO Instructor and an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security for Fairmont State Community & Technical College.

"As the content of this program is taken directly from Fairmont State's existing Criminal Justice curriculum, students successfully completing this program will also be eligible to be awarded three academic credit hours upon admittance into Fairmont State Community & Technical College's Criminal Justice A.A.S. degree program," Van Bibber said. "This allows for a seamless transition into the college program if students elect to continue their education beyond this short-term training program.

"Protection officer skills are applicable in many diverse employment settings. The training offered is useful in hospital, campus and contract security, as well as public law enforcement, private investigation, hotel, retail, industrial or park security. There is a general lack of professional training in the private security sector, and Fairmont State is the first community college in the state to begin a training program of this sort. It sets the standard for professionals in private security."

Evening classes will be held at the Center for Workforce Education in downtown Fairmont. The classes are scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The course will begin on April 4 and run until May 18. Two Saturdays (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) will also be required to complete the course. Students will spend these two days (May 6 and 13) on the firing range to complete the firearms portion of this course. The certification exam is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, May 23.

A high school diploma or GED is required for the course. No experience in the security field is required, but candidates must be a minimum of 18 years of age. Candidates will be administered and must pass a physical exam, drug screening and background check before acceptance into this program.

"Opportunities exist in our area for people with these specialized skills," Schreffler said.

"Some companies in our region have proprietary security departments. Some companies provide contracted security services to other firms. In each case, these companies indicate a great need for qualified personnel in this area. Many of the companies that hire security officer may not require a degree for entry-level positions, but still need employees with an identified skill set, especially for armed security officer positions. This short-term, focused training program has been developed to provide opportunities for this job classification.

"The benefits gained by the employer or the prospective employee through completion of this program are significant. For the employer, the knowledge that they have an effective, well-trained and skilled security force that, when needed, will be able to respond to challenging situations with competence and professionalism is a competitive advantage. The employee gains the benefits of a higher level of training at low cost, confidence in their skills and knowledge to assure adequate performance on the job and an opportunity to gain an internationally recognized certification."

Tuition for this program is $850. Financial assistance is available, for those who meet income guidelines, through the West Virginia Higher Education Part-Time Student (HEAPS) Grant Program. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.

For more information, please call the Center for Workforce Education at Fairmont State at (304) 367-4920. Additional information, detailed class schedule and registration forms are located on the center's web site at: http://www.pierpont.edu/ce.