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Security Guard


From banks and businesses to concerts and high school hallways, there are security guards everywhere these days. They are trained to watch for, prevent, and control theft, violence, and breaking-and-entering. They make detailed reports on their observations, keeping accurate information on incidents or suspicious behavior in case charges are laid later.

Unexpected things can happen at any time, and it is the security guard's responsibility to intervene in these sticky situations. A heart attack or accident is more likely to occur than a hold-up, and the security guard must be ready for any type of emergency. They should know who to contact in case of theft, fire, or heart failure. Therefore, a security guard should be alert, and think well under pressure. Many people will use the security guard to get directions, answer questions about the company or city, so the security guard should be courteous, polite, and respectful of all aspects of the job.

Security guards work outside or inside, alone and in pairs, or with a guard dog. They may patrol on foot, in a car, or from an office, monitoring surveillance cameras. They may be employed by the company or organization they are guarding, but more often than not, security guards work on contract to a company, as employees of an agency.

Unlike police, security guards are not authorized to make arrests. Therefore, they must be ready and willing to keep the suspect on site until the police arrive. They should also have a minimum of first aid, as in an emergency, they will have to monitor the injured until help can take over. They will also be required to write detailed follow up reports, especially if they encounter a difficult situation which may be taken to court.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a career in security? Security guards need to have good communication skills and the ability to act quickly in stressful situations. They must be able to work independently, and be confident in their abilities to take control of situations, in order to protect people and/or property. They must be able to think well and function under pressure, as well as able to remain alert even after hours of inaction. It is essential that security guards are honest and reliable. A second language is an asset, especially for those who want to work in international or government security.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Monitor the comings and goings at office buildings, concerts, schools, government agencies
  • Check identification
  • Enforce regulations of an establishment to maintain order
  • Check luggage at airports for suspicious matter
  • Drive and guard armored trucks and deliver cash and valuables to banks, automated teller machines and stores
  • Provide information, guide traffic
  • Check doors, windows, locks and building interiors for signs of damage or theft
  • Watch for intruders, sometimes through the use of cameras and sensors
  • Alert police, fire, or paramedics, as the case may be
  • The typical day for a security guard will vary, depending on the employment situation. More than likely, the security guard will work in the evenings, as well as overnight, as these are the times when a company or bank is most vulnerable. A security guard will spend much of their time on duty performing routine checks, monitoring cameras, entranceways, windows, and locks. They may be required to provide security for a large building, or a single section of it. They will have to be ready to call police, fire, or paramedics if the situation is out of their control.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Security guards work anywhere there is anything worth stealing, vandalizing, or anywhere there are important, well-known VIPs or large crowds. They work primarily for private companies that contract them out to the various places. Your days (and nights!) can be long, and will most likely be spent alone. Security guards may drive or walk a patrol route outside, or remain inside, monitoring one area. Security is in place all day, each day, so a security guard can expect to work weekends and holidays.

  Long Term Career Potential  
A security guard can work up to supervisor or head of a security guard agency, or may choose to move on and start their own agency. They may choose to go back to school and join the police force, the fire department, the military, or find work with a correctional institution.

  Educational Paths  
To be a security guard, some high school such as a diploma is encouraged, but not always necessary. Individuals can also get a community college diploma, or a university degree, focusing in both cases on law, security, sociology, criminology, or psychology. Prospective security guards do not need any specific training to be hired by a company or agency, but individuals can obtain the Certified Protection Officer certificate, which is required for some entry-level positions. It is a correspondence course, offered by the International Foundation for Protection Officers. In most cases, security guards must be bondable, able to speak and write English, be at least 18 years old, have good character references, no police record, and be in good health. They may also need to have valid first aid and CPR certificates, a valid driver's license and their own mode of transportation. Individuals may also be required to have their fingerprints checked by police before they begin work.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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