18 top orgs, events, certifications for disaster recovery pros

If you're responsible for disaster recovery (DR) in your organization, you know exactly what the hot seat feels like. The second the lights go out, the clock starts ticking on the recovery time objectives. That's when you find out if disaster recovery are just words in your organization, or a real discipline.

Like other high-stress, high-stakes professionals, such as surgeons, lawyers, and airline pilots, DR professionals can never really say they have learned everything there is to know. They need to pursue continuous professional development throughout their careers to:

  • Keep their skills sharp
  • Master new technologies
  • Stay ahead of emerging threats
  • Adapt to environmental game-changers such as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

Fortunately, you have many options for professional development in the DR space. There are hundreds of organizations you can join, many events you can attend, and training and certification programs you can choose from a long list of vendors and organizations.

To help simplify your choices, here is a list of the most respected long-standing sources of ongoing DR information, evolving best practices, skills training, and certifications that will get you to the top of your game—and keep you there.

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Organizations: The first step

Deciding which organizations to align yourself with is an important step, because the philosophies, technology preferences, and professional attitudes of the other members will shape your own thinking, as will the content curated for you on those sites.

The organizations listed below are excellent communities to support your career in DR. There are many groups organized around aspects of DR to be found on- and off-line. But these are the largest, most enduring, best-reviewed ones, where you are most likely to find fresh, relevant content from widely respected professionals in the field. They're arranged from largest to smallest, in terms of membership.

Disaster Recovery Journal

With 60,000 subscribers, the Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) is arguably the most popular business-continuity publication in the world. Launched in 1987, it offers a wealth of resources, including articles, blogs, and weekly free webinars on demand.  

Resources unique to the DRJ site include a searchable glossary of business-continuity terms and a compilation of DR Rules & Regulations, which the publication's editorial board works to keep updated.

This is the kind of initiative that benefits from having a large, active subscriber base. The DRJ's international subscribers often contribute specialized rules and regulations that are specific to different countries and industries.  

The DRJ also sponsors two of the largest DR conferences in the industry, detailed below in the "Conferences and events" section.

Fee: None

Disaster Recovery Institute International

Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) is a nonprofit founded in 1988. It aims to help organizations prepare for and recover from disasters by providing education, accreditation, and thought leadership on DR, business continuity, and related fields.

DRII members include more than 15,000 certified professionals in over 100 countries. Its website offers members a vast library of professional practices documentation. It also offers conference presentations and an opportunity to interact with other DRII members.

It is best known for its widely respected business-continuity certifications and the training courses that support them. (Learn more about DRII certifications in the "Training and certifications" section below.) 

Fee: None

Business Continuity Institute

Headquartered in the UK, the Business Continuity Institute offers events and training to business-continuity and resilience professionals. It provides a series of membership levels in its academic framework, from the DBCI/CBCI, which requires training but no practical experience, up through the FBCI, which requires 10 years of experience across all six professional practices. 

Founded in 1994, the Business Continuity Institute now has over 8,000 members in 100 countries, with its largest membership in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Members have access to research, reports, trends, best practices information, and access to Continuity & Resilience magazine.

Fees: Membership fees range from $23 to $242 annually, depending on membership level and country of residence. (Countries are categorized into four income groupings, and the fee structure is mapped accordingly.)

Association of Continuity Professionals (ACP International)

The Association of Continuity Professionals (ACP International) has chapters in more than 30 major cities in the United States. Its mission is to support ongoing professional development and provide career opportunities to its members. ACP International was founded in 1983 and, despite the "international" part of its name, all its chapters are located in US cities.  

ACP International has nearly 2,000 members and is popular with people who enjoy the experience of belonging to a local group where they can develop a long-standing professional network. If there is no chapter in your area, you can apply to start one using links on the group's website. 

ACP International provides programs, workshops, and symposiums in alignment with larger partners such as DRII, Gartner, and the Delta Regional Authority, a government organization to help people get jobs in an eight-state region. ACP International also offers regular webinars that are available live and on-demand. A section of its website, accessible only to members, lists job openings and career advancement materials. 

Fee: $100 (national membership), plus individual chapter fees that range from $9 to $18

Conferences and events

There is nothing like a live event to immerse you in the newest tech, trends, and innovations in a short period of time and help you build your network of colleagues and potential team members.

Getting away from the office and participating in these sessions can rejuvenate you, remind you why you love the DR profession, and trigger creative solutions to problems your team has grown polarized about.

These are the industry's biggest events. Each spans multiple days and offers specialty tracks and certification opportunities. Most offer a discount if you attend as a group, and some provide guidance on how to explain the conference's value to your management to justify the expense.

You'll also find a few one-day events listed here that are easier on the budget and might be good options for you. Here's the list, in alphabetical order:

 Continuity Insights Management Conference

The annual Continuity Insights Management Conference, now in its 17th year, will give you three days of educational opportunities, chances to network with your peers, exposure to the newest technologies, certification courses, and pre- and post-conference workshops.  

Jim Stickley, a cybersecurity expert who is routinely hired by corporations to attack their systems and test their physical security mechanisms to find gaps that criminals can exploit, will be one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming conference. 

Date: April 15-17, 2019

Location: Hilton Riverside New Orleans, Louisiana

Fees:

  • After March 15, 2019: $1,595
  • Register by March 15, 2019: $1,495
  • Register by February 15, 2019: $1,395

 

Disaster Recovery Journal's Fall Conference: Reimagining Business Resiliency

The Disaster Recovery Journal sponsors one of the longest-running conferences in the world that is dedicated to DR and business continuity. Conferences are offered in the spring and fall. The upcoming fall conference is called Reimagining Business Resiliency and will be the DRJ's 59th conference in the series.  

In addition to the general sessions, the conference provides many specialized breakout tracks on a wide range of topics such as DR automation using AI, recent hurricane case studies and the impact of business recovery planning and testing, business continuity during a merger, and much more. 

Pre- and post-event training courses and BCI certification are also available, which might be a nice way to get more value from your travel budget. (Learn more about BCI below, in the "Training and certifications" section.)

Date: September 23-26, 2018

Location: JW Marriott Desert Ridge, Phoenix, Arizona

Fees:

  • $1,395 
  • Register before August 24: $1,295
  • Group discounts available

Cost includes meals, receptions, access to all sessions, and more. 

DRI 2019 | Disaster Recovery Institute International

Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) sponsors an annual event that attracts a lot of repeat attendees every year. The event is designed with input from the huge professional community at the DRI. So topics are tailored to the current needs and concerns of business-continuity management professionals working in both the public and private sectors. 

This conference will provide specialized tracks on high-demand topics such as healthcare preparedness, cybersecurity, and technology recovery.

This event is somewhat smaller than others on this list, but it caters to the more advanced professional, and the sessions are known for their quality, depth, and high-end content. The event is described as a close-knit experience, and attendees vouch for the value of being able to network with others who are more seasoned. If you feel a bit overwhelmed, lost, and exhausted at mega-sized events, you will appreciate this style of conference.

Pre-conference courses are available that can apply to your DRI certification. (Learn more about DRI certification below, in the "Training and certifications" section.)

Dates: February 17-20, 2019

Location: Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Fees:

  • After January 6, 2019: $1,495 ($1,295 for DRI-certified professionals) 
  • Register by January 5, 2019: $1,195

The cost includes conference sessions, meals, events, volunteer projects, special networking, and after-hours events.

Registration opens September 2018. 

One-day events

Business Continuity Institute

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) sponsors one-day business-continuity and resilience training courses in many regions. There are also a few two-day courses available. The courses are delivered in live classroom sessions. You can use the filters on the website to choose your location and course and then select from the providers that are BCI's training partners.  

Courses include such things as business impact analysis; developing and managing the business-continuity plan; introduction to organizational resilience; and more. Check the training calendar to find courses in your area. 

Locations: United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Egypt, United States, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Kuwait

Fees: Vary by country, provider, and course. See the course descriptions for details.

Business Resilience Conference

The Business Resilience Conference offers one-day events held in major North American cities. These events focus on how to mitigate the effect of a man-made or natural disaster on your organization. Attendees learn what to do before, during, and after a crisis, and explore the latest threats and how to prepare their organizations.

This event attracts many repeat attendees, who are mostly vice presidents, directors, and senior managers (40%) and DR professionals (30%). The topics addressed in the conference include new/emerging threats such as workplace violence, active shooters, and social media disasters, in addition to the more traditional topics such as risk management and cybersecurity. 

Locations: The next events will be held in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Chicago. See the website for additional events.

Fee: $795 

Fee covers a catered breakfast and lunch. 

CampIT: Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity — Resilient Infrastructure

CampIT: Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity — Resilient Infrastructure is part of the popular CampIT Conferences franchise, which has been training IT professionals since 1984. This one-day conference will help you determine the right level of availability protection and teach you how to design, implement, test, and get management buy-in for a highly reliable network infrastructure.  

Topics include enabling business resiliency on campus; lessons learned from catastrophic disasters; how to refine your plan in the new age of cyber threats; and more.  

This event is tailored to CIOs/VPs/directors, DR managers, and infrastructure and security managers. 

Date: November 14, 2018

Location: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Illinois (near O'Hare International Airport)

Fee: $289

7th Annual Continuity Insights New York Conference 

In addition to its annual three-day event listed above, Continuity Insights also hosts a one-day event every year in New York. This year, Continuity Insights has combined with the Contingency Planning Exchange (CPE) to hold a joint event in New York: the 7th Annual Continuity Insights New York Conference.  

This event will provide a full day of breakout sessions exploring topics such as maintaining BCM staff readiness; BC/DR program as a competitive advantage; global trends and predictions; and more. Joseph Esposito, commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, will be the keynote speaker.  

Attendees can register for a discounted DRI certification course to be taught following this event. (Learn more about DRI certification below in the "Training and certifications" section.)

Date: October 22, 2018

Location: Wyndham New Yorker, New York, New York

Fee: $695

Training and certifications

Professional certifications are a time-honored way to differentiate your skill level in the job market. They can also become a valuable framework for your professional development, ensure that you build your career on a foundation that is widely acknowledged in the industry, and help you grow your expertise in high-demand areas.

Here are some of the most popular and useful disaster-recovery and business-continuity certifications. While many others are good for a specific product or technology, the programs below, arranged in alphabetical order, offer a range of specialty areas and multiple levels of credentialing and are geared toward real-world careers.

Many are routinely cited in DR job posts in the US.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Certification — BC/DR | BRCCI

The Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Certification — BC/DR is offered by the Business Resilience Certification Consortium International (BRCCI). This certification program covers three core areas of business continuity and disaster recovery: business continuity (BC), IT disaster recovery (DR), and BC/DR audit.

The consortium offers other certifications as well. CBRM recognizes a high degree of competency and skills in managing a business-continuity program. CBRITP demonstrates in-depth knowledge and insight in managing an IT disaster-recovery program. CBRA validates a high caliber of knowledge and competency in conducting an assessment and/or audit of business-continuity and IT disaster-recovery programs.

CBRM, CBRITP, and CBRA together offer a certification track leading to a Master's Achievement in Business Resilience (MABR).

Fees: Variable

Certified Business Continuity Manager — CBCM | Certified Information Security (CIS)

The Certified Business Continuity Manager (CBCM) certification offered by Certified Information Security (CIS) provides the training and credentialing you need to become recognized as an authority in information security governance and risk management. You choose the method of delivery: online, or in-person, at either a publicly available course or your facility.

Fees: A complete package voucher is $1,624.85. Individual training components are sold separately as well.

Certified Business Continuity Professional — CBCP | DRI International

The Certified Business Continuity Professional from the Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) is one of the most widely recognized and respected business-continuity certifications in the world. CBCPs are always working professionals who have proved their knowledge and skill in the BC/DR industry. This certification is never awarded to entry-level people at the start of their careers.

DR professionals who have been working on IT teams doing DR and business-continuity planning can apply for the CBCP to get the recognition that comes with certification. This experience requirement contributes to the certification’s strong reputation among hiring managers, and differentiates this certification from many others that simply require a training course and exam.

Fees: $400 application fee; $695 exam fee; $175 annual renewal fee

Certified Disaster Recovery Engineer (C/DRE) | Mile2

Mile2 offers the Certified Disaster Recovery Engineer (C/DRE) certification. A Certified Disaster Recovery Engineer course, also from Mile2, prepares students for this certification. It offers foundational training in business-continuity planning and presents methodologies and common practices intended to prepare students for real-world systems recovery. There is no work experience required for this certification. 

Fees: Required course: $2,500; exam: $400

EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP)

 The EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP) certification is recognized by the US National Security Agency and the Committee on National Security Systems as having met the standards for training information security professionals in the federal government.

EDRP covers BC/DR principles, including conducting business impact analysis, assessing risks, developing policies and procedures, and implementing a plan.

Fees: Courseware: $650; exam: $350

Regional

CBCI Certification | Business Continuity Certification

CBCI Certification offers foundational training for beginners. No previous knowledge of business continuity is required. Starting with the basics, the course progresses through business-continuity management (BCM) processes and practices, and provides a foundation for further study and a career in BC. Both online and classroom courses are available. 

Locations: Asia Pacific and Middle East 

Fees: Vary with program. 

IT Disaster Recovery Planning Certification (IT DRP) | BCM Institute

BCM Institute's IT Disaster Recovery Planning (IT DRP) certifications are available to IT DRP professionals who want to validate their experience and competency through an independent certification body in the Asia-Pacific region.

Locations: Singapore and Malaysia

Fees: Vary by course and location.

Join the DR experts, and become one

The professional and commercial community that has coalesced around disaster recovery is growing every year. Technologies are emerging that are changing the rules. The very nature of disasters is rapidly evolving.

While it can be hard to carve out time to attend events and interact with your peers, you will discover many practical rewards when you join the wider community. Start by exploring the organizations listed above. Find an event that offers sessions and speakers that resonate with you and try to go this year.  

As you get involved, you will find it easier and faster to develop and hone those skills that are vital to every modern organization, and build a long, rewarding career as an expert in disaster recovery.

That's our list, but what are your favorite resources? Add yours in the comments below.