Security guards are responsible for acting as the eyes and ears that monitor buildings and other areas to protect against disturbances, alarms, trespassers, theft, and violence. Businesses and institutions small and large count on security guards as their first line of defense against incidents which can impact staff and customer safety. Guards can be employed by office buildings, stores, restaurants and clubs, hospitals, museums, and other businesses. Guards often interact with local authorities to ensure that regulations and safety requirements are met at their work site. Some guards use their work experience to pursue further careers in loss prevention management or criminal justice careers in law enforcement.
An individual security guard’s day-to-day duties are largely dependent on his/her work site. Some guards are tasked with greeting and interacting with staff or customers as they enter or exit a location, and make note of unusual activity. Others are tasked with patrolling their work site on foot or by car to make sure that all areas are secure. Additionally, some guards work in surveillance control centers where they monitor all closed-circuit cameras at a local or remote work site.
While in the line of duty, security guards may also be required to:
- Interact with local authorities — law enforcement, fire safety departments, and emergency services
- Maintain logs of daily activity and incidents at work sites
- Ensure monitoring systems and sensors are functioning
Security guard jobs typically require a minimum of a high school diploma. Further requirements vary by company and jurisdiction. Many states will require that security guards attend a state-certified course on law and loss prevention procedures in order to become licensed as a guard. In instances where a guard may be expected to carry a firearm at work, some states may require additional course completion and licensing.
To become a Security Guard you must:
- Apply to an open position
- Successfully interview for the position
- Successfully pass a background and drug check
- Get hired
- Receiving on-the-job training at work site
Upon starting at a work site, a new security guard will receive training specific to his/her duties at the location. Guards will be trained on systems at the location and shown standard operating procedures to abide by.
In some areas, security guards may find it advantageous to acquire additional training such as CPR/AED and Fire Guard certifications. These will allow them to stand out among other applicants, and show employers that they are well qualified to work at a variety of work sites.
There are several benefits of being a security guard. In some roles, you will have a lot of down and you can use it to read or be on your phone. It is also possible to work a 3 or 4 day schedule with the possibility of overtime. There are opportunities for promotions and you can leverage your security guard experience to break into other areas of law enforcement and the government. It is also job that can be done part time so it is also good for older people who want to have something to do or want a small source of income.
Some security jobs can be pretty stressful. If you are in a high crime area or in a highly stressful environment, it can be tough. Some people are also bad at jobs where there isn't much activity as the day can go by extremely slow. Sometimes you will interact with people who are looking for trouble or engaging in fraudulent activities. You have to be aware of protocol and make sure you handle the situation in a smart manner. It is not a job for everyone.
Total Employment: 1,105,440
Mean Annual Wage: $30,730
Median Annual Wage: $26,900
Top 5 Highest Paying States
Annual mean wage
|District of Columbia||13,900||$42,700|
Top 5 States with Highest Employment
Annual mean wage
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)
As a security guard gains experience, he or she may earn a promotion to a supervisory position such as security director. Those seeking such advancement often have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice but it is not required. The BLS projects jobs for security guards will grow 6% from 2016 to 2026. The role will vary depending on the work site. There are some jobs where you will have a lot of dead time. This is especially true for overnight security guards. There are other jobs where you will manage a team of people and have your hands full at all hours of the day. One benefit of the job is that there are jobs all over the country and there are different shifts if you prefer a different schedule.