Security Guard Job Description & Career Outlook

The main job of a security guard is, as the title suggests, to ensure the safety of both people or property. A security guard patrols and monitors for any incidents of theft or violence in the building or area in which he or she has been assigned duty, answers alarms, and apprehends individuals that are a security threat. Many large organizations hire not only security guards, but a security director, whose job it is to manage all of the guards and the security system at large. In short, a security guard provides safety for the employer by guarding against any law violations and disturbances that could result in a loss to the client. Many businesses employ security guards, including banks, museums, hospitals, companies and industries, office buildings, nightclubs, and stores.

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Depending on the setting, a security guard’s duties may vary significantly. In some instances, a security guard is static, meaning that he or she stays in the same location for a number of hours, monitoring closed-circuit monitors of security cameras. A security guard might be asked to monitor employees as they enter and exit, so they may be in a static position at the entrance to the building. In mobile security positions, the guard may patrol and monitor on foot or in cars.

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Besides monitoring for security purposes, a security guard also has to document – usually daily – the activities that occurred, including any disturbances. These reports are a way for the client to determine any damages that resulted from the disturbance. Security guards notify other authorities in the case of emergency (like the police or fire department), and they check lights, alarm systems, windows, and doors to ensure that all are secure and in working order.

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How to Become a Security Guard

Most security guard jobs are entry-level, and typically require a high school diploma. Once hired, a prospective security guard usually has to participate in training. In some states, security guards are required to obtain a certificate that shows they have received training. Many are seeking an edge in hiring by pursuing or having an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. In addition to the training, a security guard must have knowledge of public safety and security, be mindful of customer and public service, be able to communicate well orally and in writing (knowledge of a second language is a plus), and have knowledge of laws and regulations that govern the security field. Excellent security guards are also able to think quickly and critically, and exercise good judgment in potentially explosive situations.

Many security guards progress to become police or law enforcement officers and study while working full time by pursuing an online associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. And many police officers supplement income by working as security guards in off hours.

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Security Guard Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that security guards earn a median annual wage of $23,900 as of May 2011.1 As a security guard becomes more experienced, he or she may earn a higher position, such as security director. Those seeking such advancement often have a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

Security Guard Career Outlook

The BLS projects jobs for security guards to grow 19% from 2010-2020, about as fast as average for all occupations.2

Security Guard Career Related Degrees, Programs & Schools

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Page Edited by Charles Sipe.