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Working As a Watch Officer

  • 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

  • $110,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Watch Officer 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 Watch Officer

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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Watch Officer Career Paths

Watch Officer
Intelligence Analyst Analyst Consultant
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Intelligence Analyst Analyst Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Intelligence Analyst Analyst Assistant Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Operations Officer Operations Manager Vice President
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Operations Officer Operations Manager Director
Deputy Director
9 Yearsyrs
Operations Officer Operations Manager Principal
Superintendent
8 Yearsyrs
Intelligence Officer Executive Officer
Chief Of Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Intelligence Officer Senior Intelligence Analyst Subject Matter Expert
Operations Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Intelligence Officer Project Manager Quality Manager
Logistics Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Operation Supervisor Site Supervisor
Lead Security Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Executive Team Leader Loss Prevention Manager
Security Director
10 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Platoon Sergeant
Security Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Intelligence Analyst Security Manager
Security Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Intelligence Analyst Security Manager Loss Prevention Manager
Assistant Director Of Security
7 Yearsyrs
Liaison Officer Officer
Senior Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Liaison Officer Officer Security Supervisor
Security Site Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Liaison Officer Officer Platoon Leader
Transportation Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Analyst Subject Matter Expert Security Manager
Chief Of Security
8 Yearsyrs
Program Analyst Systems Administrator Information Security Analyst
Securities Adviser
8 Yearsyrs
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Highest Watch Officer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Watch Officer IJET International, Inc. Annapolis, MD Aug 28, 2015 $55,000 -
$85,000
Watch Officer IJET International Inc. Washington, DC Oct 29, 2012 $52,998 -
$55,000
Watch Officer IJET International, Inc. Washington, DC Jul 01, 2011 $50,357 -
$55,000
Watch Officer IJET International, Inc. Washington, DC Oct 01, 2011 $50,357 -
$55,000

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Top Skills for A Watch Officer

  1. Military Personnel
  2. Emergency Operations
  3. Subordinate Units
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supervised and coordinated efforts of 5 military personnel.
  • Coordinated, interpreted, and reviewed directives issued by higher authority and insured uniformity in policies throughout emergency operations programs.
  • Coordinate Combine Arms Support, Medical Evacuations (MEDEVACS), and logistical support to subordinate units within the AO.
  • Monitored situational awareness and disseminated information.
  • Synchronized sensitive intelligence with National Agencies to create a finalized product to disseminate out to COCOMS and the Intelligence Community

Watch Officer Demographics

Gender

Male

75.1%

Female

15.0%

Unknown

9.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Black or African American

14.6%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

33.9%

Italian

9.7%

German

8.1%

French

8.1%

Russian

8.1%

Japanese

4.8%

Arabic

4.8%

Korean

4.8%

Portuguese

1.6%

Bulgarian

1.6%

Czech

1.6%

Chinese

1.6%

Turkish

1.6%

Vietnamese

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Dari

1.6%

Carrier

1.6%

Slovak

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%
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Watch Officer Education

Schools

University of Maryland - University College

13.9%

University of Phoenix

11.3%

American University

9.9%

Strayer University

6.4%

United States Coast Guard Academy

5.8%

Excelsior College

5.2%

Webster University

4.6%

Old Dominion University

4.3%

Community College of the Air Force

4.1%

Naval Postgraduate School

4.1%

Saint Leo University

3.8%

The Academy

3.5%

George Washington University

3.2%

Troy University

3.2%

U.S. Naval War College, The

3.2%

Liberty University

2.9%

Kaplan University

2.9%

Ashford University

2.6%

American InterContinental University

2.6%

Hawaii Pacific University

2.6%
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Majors

Business

21.8%

Criminal Justice

12.3%

Information Technology

6.0%

Management

5.3%

Political Science

5.3%

Intelligence Operations

4.9%

Computer Science

4.9%

International Relations

4.9%

Homeland Security

4.8%

Computer Information Systems

4.7%

History

3.7%

General Studies

3.5%

Project Management

2.6%

Education

2.5%

Finance

2.3%

Psychology

2.1%

Law

2.1%

Computer Networking

2.1%

Electrical Engineering

2.0%

Liberal Arts

2.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.9%

Masters

27.9%

Other

16.8%

Associate

9.0%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

1.7%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.1%
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