Security Guard Career Guide
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.
Security Guard Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks
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. Security guards may be armed or unarmed officers. They patrol and inspect property to protect it from fire, theft, vandalism or other criminal activities. They communicate closely with area law enforcement, fire departments, or emergency medical personnel. Security officers may also interview witnesses and testify in court.
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.
How to Become a Security Guard
Most security guard jobs are entry-level, and typically require a high school diploma. A candidate must possess the ability to make sound judgments and work independently and in cooperation others. Excellent security guards are also able to think quickly and critically, and exercise good judgment in potentially explosive situations. 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. Individuals who are seeking an edge in hiring can pursue additional education such as an associate’s 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.
Career Opportunities and Potential Employers
Most security officers work for the private sector. Depending on the company’s specific needs, the job of a security officer can vary greatly. Many businesses employ security guards, including banks, museums, hospitals, companies and industries, office buildings, nightclubs, and stores. The types of security guard includes retail loss prevention, armored car guards (who protect money and valuables transported from one location to another), gaming surveillance officers, and bouncers. Some security guards go on 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.
Security Guard Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that security guards earn a median annual wage of $24,020 per year.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 12% from 2012-2022, about as fast as average for all occupations.1
Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice School Programs
Grand Canyon University
- M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
- B.S. in Justice Studies
- B.A. in Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies
- MS - Criminal Justice
- PhD - Criminal Justice
- BS - Criminal Justice
Colorado State University-Global Campus
- Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
- BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
- PhD in Criminal Justice - Public Management and Leadership-Advanced
- PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education-Advanced
- B.S. in Criminal Justice - Crime and Criminals
- BS in Criminal Justice
- AA in Criminal Justice
- Masters in Criminal Justice: Command College
Colorado Technical University Online
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Cybercrime and Security
American InterContinental University Online
- Associate's (AABA) - Criminal Justice Administration
- Bachelor's - Corrections and Case Management
- Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
Research more private-sector criminal justice careers:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/security-guards.htm
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.