In the following article, I would like to suggest the various learning options, with their advantages and disadvantages, for preparing for the Sachkundeprüfung § 34a GewO — a guest article by The Safety Guru.
Classes are held in an academy, usually on a full-day basis. In a structured classroom environment, a learning situation is created for the students in which a lecturer takes on the role of a knowledge broker. The teacher can use different learning methods to facilitate the students’ learning. These may include lectures, discussions, group work, demonstrations or experiments. In class, students can also ask questions directly and receive feedback from the lecturer or classmates, which improves understanding of the learning material. Classes can also provide opportunities to foster social skills and collaboration as students work and learn together.
Online teaching is similar to traditional teaching, but it takes place over the internet. The lecturer uses various digital tools to facilitate the students’ learning. Examples of digital tools can be: video and audio chat, online courses, learning platforms, virtual classrooms or e‑learning modules. Online teaching can be particularly advantageous in today’s world, as it offers the possibility to continue teaching even in times of pandemics or other circumstances that affect normal teaching. Another advantage of online teaching is that students can learn from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. And also like face-to-face classes, students can ask questions and get feedback from the instructor or classmates, which can improve their understanding of the learning material.
Self-learning with book and YouTube videos
Self-learner with book and YouTube videos are people who learn independently by obtaining information from books or videos on the internet. This form of learning is less structured and requires more discipline and initiative from the learners. Unlike classroom or online learning, self-learners have the freedom to set their own pace and choose the content of the learning material. However, there is also a risk that self-learners may have difficulty achieving their learning goals due to a lack of structure and guidance. Learners need to motivate and discipline themselves to learn continuously. It is also more difficult to ask questions and receive feedback because there is no direct contact with a teacher or other learners.
Advantages and disadvantages
Overall, all three forms of learning — face-to-face teaching, online teaching and self-learning with books and YouTube videos — have advantages and disadvantages:
Structured learning environment
Interaction with the lecturer and classmates
Opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback
Promoting social skills and cooperation
Possible dependence on the lecturer
Restrictions on flexibility, as lessons take place at fixed times
Not all students may be able to follow the teaching method
Flexibility, as teaching can take place from anywhere as long as an internet connection is available
Possibility to continue teaching even if there are restrictions that affect traditional teaching
Access to a variety of digital tools to enhance the learning process
Possibility to record lessons and watch them again later on
Possible limitations in interaction with the lecturer and classmates
Technical problems can affect the learning process
Possibly the learning environment is less structured than in traditional teaching
Not all students may be technically equipped or have a sufficient internet connection to participate in online classes.
Self-learning with books and YouTube videos
Freedom to set your own learning goal and pace
Access to a wide range of learning materials
Flexibility to shape learning according to one’s own needs and preferences
No dependence on a teacher or other learners
Possible restrictions on motivation and discipline
Possible lack of structure and guidance
Possible difficulties in clarifying questions and feedback
Possibly more difficult to promote social skills and cooperation
Overall, it is important to note that none of the learning styles are perfect and it depends on which learning style best suits the learner’s individual needs and preferences. Furthermore, the different learning styles can of course be combined with each other. Especially the possibility to use YouTube videos as a supplement for any kind of learning is very good. And here my recommendation lies on the YouTube videos of the SecurityGuru34a. These videos are clearly structured, informative, easy to understand and therefore very helpful. With the help of these videos, one can learn at one’s own pace and deepen content that was not so well conveyed in class. There is complete lessons and Sample exams with explanations of the questions and answers.
I hope that with this article I have been able to give you an understanding of the different learning methods and that you will find the right method for you.
Both Jörg Zitzmann as well as Kai Deliomini are very well known in the private security industry.
Among other things, both are represented in IHK examination committees in the field of protection and security, are active as authors of books for the preparation of the expert knowledge examination and are represented with many helpful videos on YouTube and in podcasts.
With not infrequent failure rates between 30 and 50%, the question naturally arises: What’s the reason?
Some factors for success or failure are obvious. Some problems can be solved quickly and easily, some simply require intensive learning, practice and perseverance. Before I go on to point out what I consider to be the main (mis)success factors, here is the very interesting conversation between Jörg Zitzmann and Kai Deliomini on YouTube:
My top 5 reasons why so many people fail the written and oral IHK specialist knowledge examination
From my experience, the following factors are the main reasons for failure with the “34a-licence”:
Lack of motivation / lack of interest
Many participants do not see any added value in the exam. They have no real interest in the content, so they don’t want to learn at all. This is particularly pronounced among people who are “sent” by their employer or the employment agency and are not actually interested in the private security sector at all. But even if the participation itself is of their own accord: The examination is often not seen as an opportunity but as a necessary evil. Lack of motivation and interest, however, are diametrically opposed to exam success.
No sufficient preparation of the content
Some people take the exam lightly. Multiple-choice questions with pre-set answers to tick off and only 50% necessary correct answers to pass — what could go wrong, you ask yourself. But far from it. The legal topics in particular are tough. In addition, there is excitement, especially in the oral exam, and questions where you may have to think a little outside the box. If you don’t have the necessary knowledge and thus the confidence to act, you will quickly be eliminated. Comprehensive preparation is the be-all and end-all for exam success!
Insufficient knowledge of German
A lot has already been asked and said about German language skills. One thing is certain: many people who work in the security sector are not native speakers of German. Multilingualism is often important for the job, but so is sufficient knowledge of German. This is because the examination is offered exclusively in German and you must also be able to communicate confidently in German in your everyday work as a security guard. Legal texts are written in difficult language, “officialese” is usually just as difficult to understand, and the exam questions sometimes depend on individual words that can change the meaning in one direction or another or provide hints for solutions.
Structure and manner of the examination are unclear
Many people are not completely clear about the framework conditions of the exam. But only if you know which topics are important and how, and how the exam is structured, can you prepare for it specifically and efficiently. For example, there are topics that you can quickly get over, which can usually be answered with common sense. Some topics, on the other hand, count twice and some require more intensive study. In addition, there are empirical values for the oral examination and tactical tips for working through test questions, which should be conveyed by a competent lecturer or author, for example.
Difficult individual conditions
Of course, people are different. Everyone has different personal prerequisites and the general conditions (e.g. family obligations, free time for learning, learning environment, etc.) also play a significant role in success and failure. You may also know people who can memorise things with a “quick glance” and recall this knowledge at the snap of a finger. Others, on the other hand, find this significantly more difficult. Some people also have no problem at all speaking in front of others in an exam situation, most are naturally tense, some participants suffer downright from exam anxiety.
Ask yourself to what extent the points above apply to you, how you can avoid mistakes in your preparation and compensate for any deficits. You can find more information on this right here in the subject knowledge information portal numerous tips and Links to other sites or media such as YouTube.
No. Taking the 34a exam is only possible in German.
Security expertise test soon to be in Russian, Arabic or English
I have often been asked whether the expert knowledge examination according to § 34a GewO can also be taken in another language — as is the case with the driving licence examination, which in Germany is also conducted in English, French, Greek, Italian, Croatian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish, among other languages. This is not possible in the case of the expert knowledge examination! And in my opinion, that is a good thing. While the rules in road traffic are quite similar in the EU, e.g. as far as the appearance and meaning of traffic signs are concerned, it is more delicate in the area of private security. On the one hand, you have to be able to navigate very safely through the legal norms here, i.e. you have to know the relevant laws and regulations of the country in detail. For another, you are always dealing directly with people and communication is an essential factor in dealing with others, e.g. in de-escalation. Quite apart from the fact that German legal texts are sometimes difficult to understand linguistically, the language also has its subtleties in practice. It therefore definitely makes sense to be able to communicate in the language of the country where you do your work. Of course, foreign language skills are also very important, if you think of events with an international audience, e.g. festivals or fairs. Multilingualism is a great advantage in the security industry.
Do I need proof for the IHK that I speak German well enough?
German language, difficult language — is a well-known statement. Experience has shown that non-native speakers have a particularly hard time passing the expert knowledge examination according to § 34a GewO at the first attempt. One reason for this is that the examination questions are often not easy to understand. Therefore, on the one hand, one should prepare well for the exam in terms of content, and on the other hand, one should have a certain amount of language skills from everyday life as well as from technical language (legal terms, technical terms from the field of security, etc.). So far, language skills are not a prerequisite for admission.. This means that you do not need to present a language certificate or similar proof in order to be allowed to take part in the expert knowledge examination.
Help for foreign-language subject matter participants
If you are new to Germany and don’t speak German very well yet, taking a language course definitely makes sense, also to prepare for the IHK examination. Often, adult education centres (VHS) offer language courses. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) also promotes participation in language or integration courses. In addition, learning apps and of course using the German language in everyday life can be very helpful. Lexicons with technical terms for the security sector are commercially available.
Again and again one reads in job offers, job applications or course offers about the big or small “Security certificate” — sometimes just called a large or small note.
Such terms are also frequently used in forums, on social networks or even on the pages of course providers. But beware: There is no such thing as a large or small security pass!
What is meant by “security certificate”?
Section 34a of the Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act (Gewerbeordnung) contains important provisions on what a person must fulfil if he or she wants to “professionally guard the lives or property of other people”. The § 34a GewO is primarily aimed at Security contractor and regulates what they must fulfil in order to register a guarding trade. However, it also regulates that the tradesman may only entrust the performance of guarding tasks to persons as Workers who, as guards, on the one hand, are permitted to requiredReliability on the other hand, have certain Minimum qualifications have to show. With regard to qualification, this ominous “certificate” often comes into play: by “large certificate” some mean the successful passed examination, i.e. proof of the passed test performance at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The “small certificate” is sometimes called the Participation in the briefing This is a course in which you only have to complete 40 teaching units and receive a certificate of attendance, the “certificate of attendance”. Proof of instruction, is given. During the instruction, no knowledge is systematically tested, only a kind of short comprehension test takes place. In the case of the examination of professional competence, on the other hand, there is a 120-minute written test and a subsequent oral examination. The Expertise test is accordingly clear higher-quality than the instruction and one is also allowed to take on special surveillance activities, such as patrols in public traffic areas or working as a shop detective. How the instruction procedure and the examination of competence work, what is asked and who does not have to take part in it, if applicable, is described (among other points) in the Surveillance Ordinance regulated.
Why are the wrong terms used for the expert knowledge examination?
In my estimation, this has various causes. Some people simply do not know any better, some pronounce Convenience only briefly of the “appearance” and some persons (especially companies) use intentionally wrong terms. Since the actually wrong terms are quite common in certain circles (especially among the less qualified), many people who want to prepare for the examination of professional competence simply search for the term “security certificate”, for example. Or else Companies mislead prospective customers into believing they have more than they actually have in them: In the past, there have always been training companies that offered a “safety specialist” qualification. That sounds like more! But what is actually included is usually “only” the preparation for the qualification. At a price of many hundreds or even more than a thousand euros. The specialist for protection and security, on the other hand, is a real 3‑year vocational training — there is a risk of confusion! My tip: So pay close attention to the terms used and, if in doubt, ask what is specifically meant by them. It is best to express yourself clearly and use the right terminology. This will show that you know your stuff 🙂
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News always in the blog
Also new is the weblog where you are currently reading this post. I will inform you here in short articles whenever there is news about the 34a examination or other security topics!
My name is Hannes Fichtel, I am an examiner in various examination boards in the field of protection & security at the IHK. I have been working in private security since 2006. Starting with the instruction according to § 34a GewO and the training as a specialist for protection and security, I have developed further via the advanced training as a master for protection and security (IHK) up to the bachelor and master studies in the security industry. I run the expertise infoportal and am happy to answer any questions you may have!