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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

  • $24,124

    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 Jobs

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Security Guard Career Paths

Security Guard
Loss Prevention Agent Assets Protection Specialist
Asset Protection Lead
5 Yearsyrs
Security Supervisor Security Manager
Chief Of Security
8 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Police Officer Security Director
Director Of Public Safety
11 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Production Worker Correction Officer Security Supervisor
Fire Safety Director
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Specialist Security Officer
Lead Security Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Loss Prevention Agent Loss Prevention Specialist
Loss Prevention Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Specialist Security Officer
Loss Prevention Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Technician Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Training Officer
Operations Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Manager General Manager
Regional Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher Police Officer
Security Director
10 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Security Officer
Security Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Correction Officer Security Supervisor
Security Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Security Officer
Security Site Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Security Officer
Security Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Forklift Operator Security Officer
Security, Shift Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Operations Director Chief Of Operations
Senior Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Deputy Sheriff Public Safety Officer
Senior Security Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Technician Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Security Guard?

Security Guard Demographics

Gender

Male

66.9%

Female

31.0%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

60.0%

Hispanic or Latino

18.1%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

3.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

69.1%

French

8.9%

German

3.4%

Arabic

3.3%

Russian

1.6%

Italian

1.6%

Portuguese

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Carrier

1.0%

Mandarin

1.0%

Chinese

1.0%

Korean

0.8%

Hindi

0.8%

Polish

0.8%

Thai

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%

Hmong

0.6%

Samoan

0.5%

Tagalog

0.5%

Somali

0.5%
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Security Guard Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

21.9%

Kaplan University

6.2%

Essex County College

5.8%

Ashford University

5.7%

Delgado Community College

5.0%

The Academy

4.7%

Liberty University

4.5%

Miami Dade College

4.5%

Strayer University

4.2%

American InterContinental University

4.0%

Houston Community College

3.7%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.5%

Community College of the Air Force

3.5%

Henry Ford College

3.4%

Palm Beach State College

3.4%

Hudson County Community College

3.3%

Grand Canyon University

3.2%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.2%

Long Beach City College

3.2%

Hinds Community College

3.1%
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Majors

Criminal Justice

29.1%

Business

17.2%

General Studies

5.9%

Psychology

4.7%

Medical Assisting Services

3.9%

Computer Science

3.8%

Nursing

3.4%

Accounting

3.2%

Education

3.0%

Liberal Arts

2.9%

Health Care Administration

2.7%

Communication

2.7%

Finance

2.4%

Automotive Technology

2.4%

Kinesiology

2.2%

Management

2.2%

Information Technology

2.2%

Electrical Engineering

2.0%

Graphic Design

2.0%

Law Enforcement

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

41.3%

Bachelors

25.9%

Associate

18.2%

Certificate

6.7%

Masters

4.2%

Diploma

2.8%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.4%
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Top Skills for A Security Guard

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  1. Safety
  2. Emergency
  3. Facility
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Investigated security and safety violations and provided detailed incident reports.
  • Coordinated with local federal and city emergency officials to streamline and improve crisis response.
  • Greet employees/visitors to facility; answer main lobby telephone switchboard; verify employee/visitor government clearance levels for access to facility
  • Conduct under-cover surveillance of specified targets avoiding detection of target and surrounding civilians.
  • Conduct uniform and weapons inspections of subordinate security personnel to ensure policy compliance.

How Would You Rate Working As a Security Guard?

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