Senior Security Database Administrator
Name: Nathan Buxhoeveden
Industry: Security Technology
Position: Senior Security Database Administrator
Experience at position: 5 years
Previous jobs: Insurance Claims, Safety Compliance
Education: Virginia Military Institute
Majors: History and Political Science-International Politics/National Security
- Job Description: Working with different security systems to add access for new members and troubleshooting for buggy or broken security systems.
- GPA: Not emphasized.
- Experience: The most important for getting a job (not university or GPA). Having experience as a security installer is very important (usually you need to become a cable tech or other positions that deals with physical setup of security systems to become a security installer).
- Networking: Can be helpful to get your foot in the door or for getting recommended for promotions.
- Internships: Not necessary.
- Skills: Physical setup of security systems (that guards use, not home security), troubleshooting, ability to figure things out, being methodical.
- Certifications: Extremely important. Having more certifications makes you more valuable. Get certified through the major security companies (Tyco, Telco, D-Effects).
- Helpful Courses: Information Technology.
- What is your job?
Nathan: I am a senior security database administrator.
- What is a typical day look like at your job?
Nathan: I don’t really have a typical day, but basically I get requests to add access, new people, and new clearances. For example, if there are new users, we need to put them into the system. If there is a new building and there are new readers, I have to program them into the system, add them to existing access levels so that people who already have ID cards will have their cards seamlessly work. The job requires that I look at a lot of maps and diagrams and to get them I have to, coordinate with facilities and real-estate.
We also do troubleshooting. Any time there is something wrong, we figure out what is wrong and how to fix it. For example, I have a vendor coming in tomorrow for the radio system. The company has many different buildings in Connecticut and New York, and New Jersey. Their radio system that communicates through voice over IP has local transmitters so that you can communicate from Riverhead to New Jersey or back and forth. It is not currently working because IT didn’t upgrade. My suspicion is that there is a problem with the port-forwarding because they went to a managed system that won’t allow that and the radio vendor’s repeater system uses that.
- What was the most important factor in getting your current job?
Nathan: I would say reputation. They are all smaller groups or departments, so a lot of it was how to teach myself how to do things, be more efficient, and not having to go to other people to do stuff. I think it was my reputation of not having to ask. Instead of constantly putting in work requests or asking some of the other partners for help, I was fixing things on my own. If I couldn’t, at least I could approach them at tell them intelligently what the problem was. So, whenever there was some kind of request for a dependent operation, I would get first dibs so to speak.
- What do you think prepared you the most for your current job?
Nathan: I would say interpersonal skills, learning how to pay attention to what other people are doing. One trend at different companies was you have the one old guy who knows everything, but won’t tell anyone because the knowledge is his job security. Learning how to get information out of people like that or pay attention to what they were doing when they won’t tell you was really helpful.
- You did not major in engineering or technology, isn’t this field difficult for someone who is the average history or political science major?
Nathan: Probably yes, I was exposed to many people who do this kind of stuff. I also am very methodical and in this field it really helps because detail is everything. When something is not working it is usually some small detail. We had a problem with a camera system last week and I had 1,600 eighteen second clips that I had to look through to see when the camera system failed. I had to look through every one of them. I could either ignore it and let it keep happening, putting in a work order to replace a very expensive recorder, or go through it, find out what is wrong, and fix it.
- What major or courses would be helpful for your job?
Nathan: Information technology would have helped quite a bit.
- Your industry is security technology, but your majors in college were in liberal arts, how did you get into your industry?
Nathan: I didn’t have enough money to finish school, so I came home to make enough money to finish school. I was working odd-man jobs so to speak, working as a night manager at a hotel. I had a friend who worked at the first security company I ended up working with and he recommended me. My friend’s brother worked there as well, and he told me about another job that was working with security. While I was there, I ended up getting bounced around, and then ended up moving to another company, ADP, a payroll company that does all the printing for the proxies for stockholders. I ended up getting deployed, but my boss who was at ADP went to another company; the company I am at now. When I completed my service, I told him I was looking to come back to Long Island, and he asked me to come work for him because he got promoted and needed someone to take over for him
- Did you have any internships?
Nathan: No, I did not have any internships. If someone without any experience applied for my position, they probably would not be hired. They would probably have to start off as security installer (not a home security system, but the kind of systems that security guards use). Also, someone on the more technical side, like someone who runs cable for the phone company or cable company or something and then goes into security installing could do that very quickly. Many security companies that do work for mansions and things will hire cable techs or other professionals that are good with their hands, but generally won’t hire someone with a networking or IT degree because a lot of those people are not good at the physical portion.
- What are the necessary steps to get a job like yours for someone who is starting at the entry level?
Once you are a security installer, you learn so much about the different systems and tend develop an expertise. You become even better at the systems than the people who use them every day. So that would be a good path for someone who wants to get into a big company, like Canon. However, if you are the vendor for them, there is usually a non-competition clause in case you want to go from one company to another. But, it would look really good for a company that is unaffiliated with the one that you work for.
- Are there any groups and associations you can join?
Nathan: Yes, there is a security installer association, but what really are helpful are the different certifications offered by different companies. D-effects, Tyco, and Telco—those companies are major players in the industry and they have different courses you can attend to get certified in their different products. Having these certifications makes you extremely valuable to security installer companies and the more you have the more valuable you are.
For example, if company A wants to be able to do installations for Tyco and Telco products, they could hire Rob, who is certified in Tyco products, for $80,000 and Jill, who is certified in Telco products, for $80,000, or they could hire you, how is certified in both, for say $140,000.
A lot of these companies won’t even sell their products (installer parts) to other companies if they do not have someone who is certified in installing their products. So if you have a company that does systems and they want to put a bid in for a government facility, well the government facility is using either Telco or Tyco, if you don’t have a tech that has a certification for those, you can’t even buy the parts that they need. So you literally cannot do the work so you cannot even put a bid in for it. A lot of these companies will hire people just so they have someone who covers this and just someone who covers that, so just being certified in something that a company needs but does not have could get you the job.
Also, if you already have certifications, the company does not have to pay for one of their employees to get certified. Certifications require a course, such as the D-effects course is held in Texas twice a year, so it is a significant investment. If you show up with the certifications, they will jump all over you.
- How do you advance in your industry? Is there a clearly defined path with steps needed (such as getting a degree or first being a cable tech)
Nathan: It is generally not a continuing tree. I got my position with a direct recommendation from my boss. Most companies will try to hire someone internally, if no one is a good fit internally, they will look hire someone who is a security installer. So you either work your way from another point in the company to this position or you start as a security installer.