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Security Guard Career Guide

A security guard is responsible for protecting both people and places from vandalism, theft, terrorism, and other illegal activities. Becoming a security guard is an accessible career, as there are little formal educational requirements. On top of this, there are many employment opportunities and the opportunity to progress, meaning more responsibility and income.

One of the main functions a security guard has is to protect people and maintain safety. Often times, the watchful presence of a security guard is enough to deter criminals and prevent incidents. People are often grateful for the presence of a security guard, and helping them feel comfortable and safe can be rewarding.

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Security Guard Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Security Guard Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Security Guard field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33956 Armed Security Officer Male 35 None Set burkburnett, TX 01/01/2010
33961 Security Officer Male 37 $25,000 monessen, PA 01/01/2010
33793 Security Officer & Host Male 35 $23,598 Kalispell, MT 01/01/2010
33574 Door Person (Doorman) Male 50 $38,000 brooklyn, NY 01/01/2010
33413 Security Officer Male 27 $30,000 Napavine, NY 01/01/2010

Overview

What a security guard actually does

The responsibility of a security guard is to protect both people and places from vandalism, theft, terrorism, and other illegal activities. Security guards can work in shopping malls, office buildings, museums, landmarks, airports, hotels, and many other types of public buildings. Additionally, they are also present at sporting events, concerts, festivals, and other events that attract large crowds.

When a security guard is mentioned, we often think about an individual who can be seen actively patrolling and monitoring an area. However, security guards are often working behind the scenes as well. When security cameras are in place, they are watching the live feed to look for any suspicious or illegal activity.

Regardless of where they work, the typical duties and responsibilities of a security guard are:

  • Securing premises by patrolling property, monitoring surveillance equipment, inspecting buildings, inspecting equipment and controlling access points
  • Keeping a log of all visitors and permitting entry
  • Screening individuals who arrive on the premises
  • Checking bags for suspicious or prohibited items
  • Responding to all alarms
  • Obtaining further help where required by sounding alarms
  • Preventing losses and damage by reporting irregularities, informing violators of policy and procedures and restraining trespassers
  • Controlling traffic by directing drivers
  • Recording observations, information, occurrences, and surveillance activities
  • Interviewing witnesses of illegal activity and obtaining their signatures

Why they are needed

Well-trained security guards play a crucial role in protecting property and/or civilians. Without security guards, society would not be safe and protected. The presence of a security guard is often enough to deter and prevent criminals, meaning people feel comfortable and safe.

Pros and cons of a career as a security:

Pros:

  • Helping protect members of society or the company you work for is incredibly rewarding and satisfying
  • It is a relatively accessible career, as there are little formal education requirements
  • Security guards are always learning and developing their skills
  • You are up on your feet and walking around a lot, which suits people who want an active job

Cons:

  • Security guards may often come into contact with unpredictable situations. Due to this, it can be a very dangerous and risky job
  • Security guards normally work shifts, which are often long hours and overtime is expected
  • Like most jobs, there are mundane paperwork tasks to be carried out (e.g., needing to write lots of reports that keep track of suspicious activity)
  • It is a relatively low paying position at first

 

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of security guards is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

This increased employment is expected because security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property. However, advances in video surveillance may limit the employment of some security guards.

Career paths

To become a security guard, you will normally need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some jobs may not require formal educational credentials.

Security guards will then receive on the job training. The standard and depth of this will vary, depending on the company. In many states, security guards receive about 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training and 8 hours of annual training.  Training will typically cover emergency procedures, crime prevention, proper communication, report writing, first aid and public relations.

If you want to be an armed guard, you will undergo further and more rigorous training that will teach you how to use firearms correctly.

Example Job Titles for Security Guard

Below is a list of common job titles in the Security Guard field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for security guards in the United States was $29,680 in 2019, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $21,150, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $50,310.

The top paying industry for security guards was the government, where the median annual salary was $34,730. Next was educational services, where the median annual salary was $34,460. This was followed by healthcare and social assistance, with the median annual salary being $34,330.

Autonomy and Flexibility

Security guards may be supervised and managed by superiors, meaning that autonomy can be low. However, some security guards work alone, with no one watching over them, which gives them high autonomy. As security guards work shifts, there is little flexibility.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a security guard, based on average annual salary and the number of job opportunities, are:

  1. Maryland, where the average annual salary is $43,408
  2. Delaware, where the average annual salary is $35,413
  3. Maine, where the average annual salary is $34,782
  4. Nevada, where the average annual salary is $33,483
  5. New Hampshire, where the average annual salary is $34,765

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky.

Work environment

59% of security guards work for investigation, guard and armoured car services. 6% work for educational services, 6% for healthcare and social assistance, 5% for accommodation and food services and 4% for the government.

Security guards work in a variety of places, including industrial settings, stores and office buildings. They will spend a considerable amount of time on their feet whilst patrolling buildings. However, they will also spend long periods sat down at a desk, where they will watch video surveillance or write up reports.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Security Guard careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Security Guard career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Security Guard.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

Successful security guards are likely to be an ISTJ personality type. This is because they are responsible, reserved and have a strong focus on doing things correctly. ISTJ’s will be able to spot security breaches because they focus on detail, are organized, reliable and have high standards. Due to their predictability and stability, they will be successful at correctly handling the unpredictable situations that security guards may often find themselves in.

Accomplishment and mastery

As security guards receive on the job training, which teaches them all the skills they need to be a successful security guard in a short space of time, there is a high level of accomplishment and mastery. Also, when security guards stop criminal activity and protect property or people, they will feel a high sense of accomplishment.

Meaning and contribution

As security guards work to ensure that both people and property are kept safe, there is a lot of meaning and contribution in their work. Without security guards working to ensure the safety of civilians, society could turn into an unstable or dangerous place.

Life fit

Most security guards work full time hours. Security guards usually work in shifts of about 8 hours, with rotating schedules. As security is often needed around the clock, they may have to work nights, evenings and weekends. Due to this, it can be a difficult schedule to fit into family life. However, the advantage is that security guards normally get days off in a row.

Who will thrive in this career?

To thrive as a security guard, you will need to be able to remain calm under pressure and be able to handle unforeseen circumstances. Similarly, to thrive you must be rule abiding, fair and reasonable. You should also be able to work alone and as part of a team, as security guards will need to do both. On a final note, you should be physically fit and be willing to be on your feet patrolling large buildings.

Who will struggle in this career?

The main reason you will struggle in this career is if you cannot work well under pressure. You will also struggle if you are not focused on doing what is right and following rules and regulations. Those who are not physically fit may struggle with being on their feet all day, and will therefore struggle as a security guard.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Security guards must be in good physical shape to keep up with the daily rigor of the job. As well as being physically fit, security guards will need the following skills:

  • Decision making skills are essential as security guards must be able to quickly determine the best way to solve a wide array of problems
  • Communication skills, as security guards will need to communicate effectively with others, even in stressful situations
  • Written communication skills are also essential for writing up reports and maintaining documents
  • Problem-solving skills, as security guards will need to determine the best course of action, even in stressful situations
  • Interpersonal skills, as security guards will need to interact with the public and must maintain a good reputation

Education

Security guards will normally need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some jobs may not require formal educational credentials.

Security guards will then receive on the job training. The standard and depth of this will vary, depending on the company. In many states, security guards receive about 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training and 8 hours of annual training. To become an armed guard, further training is needed on how to safely use firearms.

Certifications

Certification and licensing requirements of security guards change drastically from state to state. Most states require that security guards be licensed by the state in which they work. To become licensed, security guards must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and complete relevant training.

Armed guards usually must be licensed by the appropriate government authority. Positions for armed guards have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than do those for unarmed guards. Most states require rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, for armed guards.

How to Become

Summary

A security guard is responsible for protecting both people and places from vandalism, theft, terrorism, and other illegal activities. Becoming a security guard is an accessible career, as there are little formal educational requirements. On top of this, there are many employment opportunities and the opportunity to progress, meaning more responsibility and income.

Immediate action

If becoming a security guard is something that suits you, then great! We recommend researching jobs near you and finding out whether they will offer you on the job training!

Education and learning

Security guards will normally need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some jobs may not require formal educational credentials.

Skill development

Security guards receive on the job training. Typically, security guards receive about 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8 to 16 hours of on-the-job training and 8 hours of annual training. To become an armed guard, further training is needed on how to safely use firearms. Therefore, there are lots of opportunities for skill development.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Security Guard careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33956 Armed Security Officer Male 35 None Set burkburnett, TX 01/01/2010
33961 Security Officer Male 37 $25,000 monessen, PA 01/01/2010
33793 Security Officer & Host Male 35 $23,598 Kalispell, MT 01/01/2010
33574 Door Person (Doorman) Male 50 $38,000 brooklyn, NY 01/01/2010
33413 Security Officer Male 27 $30,000 Napavine, NY 01/01/2010

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