If you are trustworthy, courageous, patient, and professional, find out how to become a security guard. There is a growing demand for security personnel that is projected to continue for the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you have security skills, explore all the security guard field has to offer.
So, how do you become a security guard? It starts with learning about the required skills, education, and options for licensing or certifications needed to succeed. The legal requirements will vary by state; check your state’s requirements online or talk with a local security company.
|Median Annual Salary in 2020||$34,360|
|Entry-level Education Requirements||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Desired Certifications||First Aid, CPR|
|Jobs available in 2020||1,164,600|
|Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)|
Related job titles
|15% Faster than Average|
(155,600 jobs are projected to be added.)
Security officer, security guard, bodyguard, security analyst, security manager, security consultant, security specialist, security escort, protection officer, patrol officer
No prior experience? No problem. This career guide will cover everything you need to know about how to become a security guard including…
- What a Security Guard Really Is
- Duties and Responsibilities
- Day-to-Day Working Conditions
- Salary Expectations for Guards
- Requirements to be a Guard
- Training: Licenses & Certifications
- More Resources to Become a Guard
What is a Security Guard?
Working as a security guard includes closely monitoring people or buildings to prevent and deter crime. For example, a guard may patrol a property looking for signs of a fire, theft, vandalism, terrorism, or other illegal activity.
Armed Security Guard vs. Unarmed Security Guard
Different situations call for various levels of protection. If firearms are needed, armed security guards must prepare through training. Security training and licensing requirements vary by state.
Due to the increased risk as an armed guard, salaries may be higher. While there may be unique missions for an armed guard, most have similar tasks as unarmed guards. As a result, most companies employ unarmed guards due to reduced liability and a lower cost.
Security Guard vs. Security Officer
In some areas and companies, the two titles have similar meaning and are used interchangeably. In other instances, they may be used to describe distinct levels of expertise and responsibility. Below are examples of how the duties may be different.
Security guards are typically assigned a post or to patrol a specific area and report to an onsite supervisor or have one immediately available. Additional duties might include guarding entrances, concierge services, traffic control, monitoring surveillance cameras and more. A guard may be a steppingstone to working as a security officer.
Security officers may have a broader range of responsibilities, including the authority to supervise other security personnel, function as a contact for Law Enforcement, be armed, and make on site decisions on behalf of their employers and the accounts they are serving.
What Does a Security Guard Do?
A security guard always remains alert and aware of their surroundings. They may summon police or an ambulance in an emergency. Additionally, they may document and share incident details as needed.
- Protecting an account or owners’ property
- Monitoring alarms and closed-circuit cameras
- Calling the police when a crime has occurred
- If safe to do so, detaining criminal violators
Where Do Security Guards Work?
The locations where a security guard or officer may work are many and varied. The location will dictate their duties and responsibilities.
Common Security Guard Workplaces:
- Public buildings like schools and libraries
- Government buildings
- Retail stores
- Airports and transportation hubs
- Commercial property
- Houses of worship
- Entertainment venues
Common security responsibilities include theft prevention in retail stores, credential verification or identification screening in transportation and government buildings, and staff and asset protection in business offices, hospitals, financial institutions, schools, or museums (to name a few). Security guards can also work at a variety of entertainment venues, private events, or provide security to individuals. Schedules can be consistent or may require a high level of flexibility.
Security Guard Duties and Job Descriptions
A few of the most popular security jobs include – but will not be limited to – commercial and private event security.
Event Security Guard: Sports and concert venues, schools and universities, and private parties may hire guards for crowd control. Common duties for event security guards include:
- Crowd control
- Traffic and parking control
- Guest safety
- Access point checks
Professional & Commercial Security Guard: Corporate business, retail stores, bars and restaurants, schools, houses of worship, and construction sites hire guards for employee, visitor, and asset protection. Common duties include:
- Employee credentials verification
- Visitor management
- Roving or mobile patrol
- Employee escorts
Security Guard Skills and Responsibilities
Security guards should possess certain skills and personal traits or qualities to effectively manage and resolve complex security situations.
- Excellent written and verbal communication
- Ability to think quickly and critically
- Exercise good judgment in tense situations
- Knowledge of public safety and security best practices
- Ability to work well independently and with others
- Knowledge of laws and regulations in the area
- Provider customer service in a professional manner
Qualities of a Security Guard
A guard’s skills and responsibilities are not all that make them fit for that role. What you need to be a security guard are the personal qualities that also make you an outstanding citizen. The qualities to become a guard are the same ones you need to be a police officer, firefighter, EMT, or soldier. These qualities include:
- Self-Control and discipline
- Good with People
What is the Average Security Guard Salary?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for security guards is $34,360. The salary is dependent on who you work for and in what capacity. Those jobs with higher risk should come with a greater compensation.
Armed Security Guard Salary
The additional education and training needed to become an armed guard will pay off with a bump in salary. In addition, armed security officer requirements are more rigorous and thorough. But this job also comes with higher levels of stress and risk, which some do not deem worth the extra money.
Unarmed Security Guard Salary
The qualifications and skills needed to be a guard without a firearm are just as important but are not as lengthy. The salary for unarmed guards might not be as high because they typically do not work in the high-risk areas that armed guards do. The peace of mind and lack of stress that come with it are a fair trade-off for most.
Security Officer Salary and opportunities
If working for a licensed employer, the skills and responsibilities of the security officer can lead to higher earnings. Security officers who take the leap and start their own licensed business can earn more. FlashlightNOW is a turnkey, no cost platform that helps experienced and qualified security personnel launch their own security businesses.
How to Become a Security Guard
Many will ask, “What degree do you need to be a security guard?” and while a degree in criminal justice may put you on the fast track, you often only need a high school diploma or GED. Other general requirements will be that you are at least 18-years old (21 for armed guards), have no criminal record, and be professionally and physically fit to participate in and pass required training.
The specific qualifications for training and licensing vary by state. Still, armed guards always have more stringent training requirements. Find out what the regulations are in your state before you make the leap into this profession.
Here are the steps you may need to take to become a security guard:
- Graduate from high school or attain your GED.
- Research and attain required training and certifications for your state.
- Apply for a position that aligns with your credentials and background.
- Go through a formal interview and pass a background check.
- Get hired by a licensed and trusted company. (like the ones in our marketplace)
- Consider acquiring additional skills that will make you an excellent candidate.
- Consider a security related degree.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Security Guard?
How much training you need to get your security guard certification will depend on your state. To become a security guard, it could take you as little as a month.
In Minnesota, for example, protective agents are required to undergo at least 12 hours of training – specifically for security issues like legal authority and liability issues, communications, ethics, incident/situation assessment and emergency response, and relevant statutes and administrative rules – within the first 21-days of their employment.
Security Guard Training: Licenses and Training
Security guard careers are unlike many others in that they do not always require a degree, and instead rely on practical training and licenses. Security guards are required to pass a background check as well as the following educational requirements. A high school diploma is a minimum expectation –but more education often results in greater pay and responsibility.
- High school diploma or equivalent: All security guards must attain this level of education
- Associates degree: Further education in a related field is sometimes required for more complex responsibilities, workspaces, and environments.
- Bachelor’s degree: A relevant four-year degree is required to work in other capacities such as high-level security consulting and leadership.
Additional Security Guard Certifications and Licenses
Each state has different certification requirements to become a security guard. While they vary state by state, the programs will fall into these three categories and completion should be awarded in some form of certification.
- Emergency procedures: First aid and CPR training are just a few of the emergency protocols a security guard must know. They are the first people on the scene in some cases and can provide life-saving aid.
- Property rights: To lawfully protect an establishment, it is vital for a security guard to know precisely what they can and cannot do.
- Detention of suspects: Security guards can hold suspects, but only under the right circumstances and only for so long. Therefore, it is crucial to know what situations warrant this type of action and which do not.
Best to you and your new career!
If you have ever asked yourself, “Can I be a security guard?” we hope that you now know that it is within reach. We hope that laying out the path to be a security guard has brought you closer to that goal.
To connect our customers with the absolute best security professionals in the field, we believe it is essential to provide potential security guards with the resources they need to achieve their career goals. We will keep working hard and finding new ways to help you and the licensed security providers you work for be successful.
Learn more about the critical role security guards play in our society, what it takes to become one of the best, or start your own security company at FlashlightNOW.