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Become An Observer

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Working As An Observer

  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Observer Do

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity.

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Protect and enforce laws on an employer’s property
  • Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras
  • Control access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty
  • Serve as witnesses for court testimony
  • Detain violators

Security guards, also called security officers, protect property, enforce rules on the property, and deter criminal activity. Some guards are assigned a stationary position from which they monitor alarms or surveillance cameras. Other guards are assigned a patrol area where they conduct security checks.

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment in an observation room, they watch casino operations for suspicious activities, such as cheating and theft, and monitor compliance with rules, regulations, and laws. They maintain and organize recordings from security cameras, which are sometimes used as evidence in police investigations.

Guards and officers must remain alert, looking out for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards are armed.

A security guard’s responsibilities vary from one employer to another. In retail stores, guards protect people, records, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers and employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, and patrol parking lots.

In office buildings, banks, hotels, and hospitals, guards maintain order and protect the organization’s customers, staff, and property.

Guards who work in museums and art galleries protect paintings and exhibits by watching people and inspecting the contents of patrons’ handbags.

In factories, government buildings, and military bases, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.

Guards working in parks and at sports stadiums control crowds, supervise parking and seating, and direct traffic.

Security guards stationed at the entrances to bars and nightclubs keep underage people from entering, collect cover charges, and maintain order among customers.

Security guards working in schools and universities patrol the buildings and grounds, looking for suspicious activity.

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How To Become An Observer

Most security guard jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require guards to be registered with the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Education

Security guards generally need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Gaming surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent and may need experience with video surveillance technology depending upon assignment.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired guards, the amount of training they receive varies. Most guards, however, learn their job in a few weeks. During those few weeks, training from their employer typically covers emergency procedures, detention of suspected criminals, and proper communication.

Many states recommend that security guards receive approximately 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8–16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. This may include training in protection, public relations, report writing, deterring crises, first aid, and other specialized training related to the guard’s assignment.

Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may be tested periodically in the use of firearms.

For gaming surveillance officers and investigators, some employers prefer candidates with previous work experience in casinos or individuals with a background in law enforcement. Experience with video technology can also be helpful in using surveillance systems and software.

Drug testing may be required as a condition of employment and randomly during employment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that guards be registered with the state in which they work. Although registration requirements vary by state, basic qualifications for candidates are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Complete training

Guards who carry weapons usually must be registered by the appropriate government authority. Armed guard positions have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than those of unarmed guards. Rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, are required for armed guards in most states.

Some jobs may also require a driver's license.

Advancement

Some guards advance to supervisory or security manager positions. Those with experience or postsecondary education should have an advantage. Armed security guards have a greater potential for advancement and enjoy higher earnings.

Some guards with management skills open their own security guard business. Guards can also move to an organization that needs higher levels of security, which may result in more prestige or higher pay.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Guards and officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises. 

Patience. Security guards and officers may need to spend long periods standing and observing their environment without distractions.

Observation skills. Guards and officers must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.

Physical strength. Guards must be strong enough to apprehend offenders and to handle emergency situations.

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Observer Demographics

Gender

Male

46.9%

Female

40.0%

Unknown

13.1%
Ethnicity

White

57.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.4%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

11.3%

Unknown

5.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.1%

French

9.6%

Hindi

7.4%

Arabic

5.1%

Mandarin

4.5%

Chinese

4.3%

Urdu

4.1%

German

4.1%

Russian

2.9%

Italian

2.3%

Japanese

2.0%

Portuguese

1.8%

Cantonese

1.4%

Telugu

1.2%

Turkish

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Polish

1.2%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Bengali

1.0%

Korean

0.8%
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Observer Education

Schools

Hofstra University

9.3%

University of Phoenix

9.1%

Central Texas College

6.5%

University of the Sciences

6.1%

Adelphi University

5.8%

Texas A&M University

5.3%

University of Texas at Austin

4.9%

New York University

4.9%

Boston University

4.6%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.6%

Pennsylvania State University

4.5%

American University

4.3%

Saint John's University - New York

4.0%

Auburn University

3.9%

State University of New York College at New Paltz

3.9%

University of Alabama at Birmingham

3.9%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.7%

University of Connecticut

3.7%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

The Academy

3.6%
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Majors

Business

10.9%

Biology

10.2%

Medicine

10.2%

Psychology

8.6%

Nursing

7.0%

Education

6.4%

Kinesiology

5.8%

Criminal Justice

5.6%

Elementary Education

3.8%

General Studies

3.5%

Veterinary Science

3.3%

Early Childhood Education

3.2%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

3.2%

Public Health

2.9%

Special Education

2.9%

Political Science

2.7%

English

2.6%

Communication

2.5%

Physical Therapy

2.4%

Health Sciences And Services

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.3%

Other

19.4%

Masters

18.7%

Associate

7.3%

Doctorate

6.4%

Certificate

3.5%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$80,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$37,000
Min 10%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$171,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
UMass Memorial Health Care
Highest Paying City
Saint Paul, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
1.9 years
How much does an Observer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Observer in the United States is $80,099 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $37,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $171,000.

Real Observer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Observer Saexploration Inc. Anchorage, AK Nov 14, 2011 $82,500
Senior Observer Saexploration, Inc. Prudhoe Bay, AK Dec 30, 2014 $80,000 -
$95,000
Domestic Groundfish Observer Alaskan Observers, Inc. AK Nov 18, 2013 $75,413
Domestic Groundfish Observer Alaskan Observers Inc. AK Apr 10, 2010 $73,200
PS1 Observer Research Corporation of The University of Hawaii Pukalani, HI Jan 02, 2012 $63,194
West Coast Groundfish Observer Alaskan Observers, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jan 01, 2011 $62,905
Right Whale Aerial Observer Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Provincetown, MA Jan 01, 2010 $53,740
Right Whale Aerial Observer Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Provincetown, MA Jan 01, 2010 $53,657
Right Whale Aerial Observer Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Provincetown, MA Jan 01, 2010 $45,418

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How Would You Rate The Salary Of an Observer?

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Top Skills for An Observer

  1. Patient Care
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Combat
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided direct patient care including treatment planning, implementing plans and evaluating treatment documentation.
  • Interviewed teachers about planning lessons and classroom management.
  • Trained over 400 personnel in company level combat operations, counter-insurgency, cultural awareness and effective cross cultural communications.
  • Maintain support by requesting artillery munitions to suppress or neutralize enemy offense from both fixed wing and rotary wing military aircraft.
  • Shadowed Internal Medicine and Family Medicine residents to learn about their clinical responsibilities 3.

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Top 10 Best States for Observers

  1. Connecticut
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Minnesota
  4. Washington
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Arizona
  7. North Dakota
  8. California
  9. Iowa
  10. Oregon
  • (5 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)

Top Observer Employers

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Jobs From Top Observer Employers

Observer Videos

Rise of Flight - Career Mode - Breguet (Observer) - Part 1

The Observer Effect in Quantum Mechanics

Rise of Flight - Career Mode - Breguet (Observer) - Part 3 - Sitting Albatross

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