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Become A Security Guard

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Working As A Security Guard

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Repetitive

  • $30,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Security Guard 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 A Security Guard

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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Security Guard Career Paths

Security Guard
Security Officer Officer
Operations Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Security Officer Officer
Senior Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Sergeant Security Supervisor
Security Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Sergeant Security Supervisor Security Manager
Security Director
10 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Investigator
Loss Prevention Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Investigator Loss Prevention Manager
Asset Protection Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Loss Prevention Officer Security Supervisor
Security Site Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Investigator Security Manager
Security Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Specialist Executive Assistant Assistant Property Manager
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Correction Officer Officer
Lead Security Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Loss Prevention Agent Loss Prevention Associate Loss Prevention Leader
Loss Prevention Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Security Specialist Intelligence Analyst Security Manager
Assistant Director Of Security
7 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Training Officer Platoon Leader
Transportation Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Sergeant Site Supervisor Security Director
Chief Of Security
8 Yearsyrs
Technician Technical Support Specialist Information Security Analyst
Securities Adviser
8 Yearsyrs
Loss Prevention Officer Site Supervisor Lead Security Officer
Security, Shift Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Correction Officer Lieutenant
Court Security Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Loss Prevention Officer Security Site Supervisor Security Guard Supervisor
Fire Safety Director
6 Yearsyrs
Instructor Lead Instructor Chief Petty Officer
Chief Product Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Security Specialist Security Assistant
Senior Security Officer
5 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Special Police 3.7 years
Security Officer 2.5 years
Security Agent 2.3 years
Armed Guard 2.2 years
Security Monitor 2.2 years
Patrol Guard 2.0 years
Security 2.0 years
Security Guard 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Security Guard
Cashier 21.6%
Internship 3.4%
Driver 3.3%
Cook 3.0%
Server 2.7%
Supervisor 2.5%
Volunteer 2.4%
Manager 2.4%
Top Careers After Security Guard
Cashier 11.7%
Driver 6.3%
Supervisor 2.8%
Internship 2.6%
Server 2.5%
Manager 2.5%
Technician 2.2%
Cook 2.1%

Do you work as a Security Guard?

Security Guard Demographics

Gender

Male

60.6%

Female

26.4%

Unknown

13.0%
Ethnicity

White

60.2%

Hispanic or Latino

18.0%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.9%

French

8.3%

Arabic

3.0%

German

2.7%

Russian

1.8%

Italian

1.5%

Portuguese

1.5%

Japanese

1.4%

Chinese

0.9%

Hindi

0.9%

Polish

0.8%

Mandarin

0.7%

Carrier

0.7%

Korean

0.7%

Thai

0.7%

Urdu

0.6%

Hmong

0.5%

Tagalog

0.5%

Cantonese

0.4%

Swedish

0.4%
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Security Guard Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

21.7%

The Academy

12.2%

Miami Dade College

5.9%

Kaplan University

5.3%

Ashford University

4.6%

Everest Institute

4.3%

Strayer University

4.3%

Essex County College

4.2%

Monroe College

4.0%

Community College of Philadelphia

3.7%

Houston Community College

3.7%

Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York

3.4%

Remington College

3.1%

Delgado Community College

3.1%

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York

3.0%

Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

2.8%

American InterContinental University

2.7%

Nassau Community College

2.7%

Liberty University

2.6%

Long Beach City College

2.6%
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Majors

Criminal Justice

28.1%

Business

17.0%

General Studies

6.4%

Medical Assisting Services

4.7%

Psychology

4.4%

Nursing

4.0%

Computer Science

3.7%

Liberal Arts

3.3%

Health Care Administration

3.3%

Accounting

3.2%

Education

2.9%

Finance

2.8%

Communication

2.6%

Automotive Technology

2.5%

Management

2.0%

Kinesiology

2.0%

Graphic Design

2.0%

Information Technology

1.9%

Electrical Engineering

1.7%

Medical Technician

1.7%
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Degrees

Other

41.4%

Bachelors

24.4%

Associate

18.8%

Certificate

7.4%

Diploma

3.6%

Masters

3.4%

License

0.7%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$30,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$19,000
Min 10%
$30,000
Median 50%
$30,000
Median 50%
$30,000
Median 50%
$30,000
Median 50%
$30,000
Median 50%
$30,000
Median 50%
$30,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Hospital
Highest Paying City
Billings, MT
Highest Paying State
Montana
Avg Experience Level
2.0 years
How much does a Security Guard make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Security Guard in the United States is $30,287 per year or $15 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $19,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $46,000.

Real Security Guard Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Security Guard Little Rest Twelve Inc. New York, NY Dec 17, 2009 $36,523
Security Guard Steves Caretaking Services Southampton, NY Jan 10, 2008 $20,494
Security Guards American Protective & Security Pro Gaithersburg, MD Mar 26, 2010 $19,409
Security Guards Star Protection Agency LLC Houston, TX Nov 04, 2013 $18,783 -
$20,870
Security Guard Round The Clock Diner York, PA Aug 24, 2016 $17,638
Security Guard Curry Donuts of America Inc. Wilkes-Barre, PA Nov 21, 2016 $17,514

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Top Skills for A Security Guard

  1. Ensure Safety
  2. Emergency Situations
  3. Surveillance Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide protection and ensure safety for individuals and property.
  • Handled and reported any emergency situations to the appropriate authorities and supervisors.
  • Secured premises by patrolling property; monitoring surveillance equipment, inspecting buildings and permitting entry.
  • Provided customers with basic customer service while observing and reporting any hostile/suspicious activity in the vicinity.
  • Escort or drive motor vehicle to transport individuals to specified locations or to provide personal protection for cashiers during cash drops.

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Top 10 Best States for Security Guards

  1. Massachusetts
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Alaska
  4. North Dakota
  5. Virginia
  6. Nebraska
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Vermont
  9. Hawaii
  10. Washington
  • (873 jobs)
  • (133 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (55 jobs)
  • (872 jobs)
  • (132 jobs)
  • (122 jobs)
  • (34 jobs)
  • (113 jobs)
  • (381 jobs)

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