Are you looking for a rewarding career as a security professional? Security is a critically important function in society, and security guards are responsible for a wide variety of tasks and functions, including keeping people and property safe, protecting neighborhoods, and providing security at concerts and events.
If you are exploring how to become a security officer, the good news is that there are plenty of career opportunities as a security professional. In fact, more than 1 million people work in the security profession in the United States, and local demand continues to rise. In this post, we will explore the types of security jobs available today, the requirements to become a security guard, and how to find a job in the field.
Types of Security Guards
Did you know that the security profession encompasses a wide variety of clients and roles? Here are a few of the most common types of security guards.
Residential Security Guards
These guards are hired by local homeowners associations, neighborhood watch groups, and other local organizations to keep residential areas safe. Generally, these residential guards are responsible to monitor a particular area or neighborhood, control access to it, respond to noise complaints and security requests, and work with local law enforcement in the event of an incident.
Business Security Guards
Businesses are another common client for security professionals. Businesses hire security guards to control access to their corporate offices, manufacturing facilities, and other private property and buildings. They also hire security guards to monitor closed-circuit camera networks, lock and unlock facilities, patrol the grounds in vehicles or on foot, and help keep employees safe when coming and leaving. Some companies even hire armed security guards to protect valuable assets.
Personal Security Guards
Sometimes called bodyguards, personal security guards work for individuals or groups of people who desire personal protection. These customers can include celebrities, musicians, high-profile businesspeople, and others who may have an elevated security concern. Sometimes these clients hire guards only for particular events, while others hire security on a 24/7 basis.
Patrol guards are often hired to patrol and protect a particular area either on foot or in a vehicle. This category overlaps with a number of the other types of security guards we have discussed, but it sometimes exists as a distinct type. For example, some local jurisdictions hire patrol guards to monitor high-traffic public places, such as parks and local attractions. Malls are another common hirer of patrol guards.
Government Security Guards
Common government facilities, such as the DMV office or courthouse, generally have a number of security professionals on site to help keep things safe. These guards may be responsible for monitoring crowds or controlling access to certain areas of the building. Government correctional facilities are another common employer of security guards, though this is sometimes considered a distinct security profession.
Independent Security Guards
Security guards are also hired independently for a wide variety of jobs, events, and functions. Independent security guards are sometimes called proprietary security guards and can be hired by practically anyone. Bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are a common customer for independent guards.
Event Security Guards
Concerts, conferences, and other events also hire a large number of security guards. Generally, a facility or venue hires a security team to directly manage all events. These security guards help with crowd control, incident management, protecting performers or speakers, and managing access to backstage or other off-limits areas.
Requirements to Become a Security Guard
First and foremost, you must be at least 18 years old to work as a security guard. If you have law enforcement or military experience, you have a definite leg up on the competition when it comes to finding a job, as many businesses are looking to hire people with this type of experience.
Here are the basic requirements you should expect to meet to become a security guard. We will also explore some of the soft skills that employers are looking for when hiring security guards.
One of the primary requirements for becoming a security guard is a clean background. If you have a criminal past, you will likely have difficulty getting hired as a security guard.
It’s also important to know that pre-hiring background checks for security guards can go much deeper than your standard criminal background checks. These additional checks may review your credit reports to ensure you are not facing massive financial hardships and vehicle records for things like speeding tickets. In general, businesses use these checks to find and hire security guards who are trustworthy, law-abiding people who will not be tempted in their role to steal or misuse their authority in any way.
A high school diploma or GED is often the minimum education requirement for many security guard jobs. Some employers, such as hospitals or larger businesses, may require an associate’s degree. The highest education requirements are often held by high-value, high-status facilities, such as casinos. In these cases, you may be required to have a 4-year degree.
Security Guard Certification and Licensing Requirements
Security professionals are generally required to complete some form of security guard training, certification, or other required licensing activities. It is important to understand and complete any training required in your area. For example, if you wish to work in an armed capacity, you will likely need to pursue additional weapons training and will likely be required to get an armed security guard certification and weapons permit.
Many security guards are required to walk across large facilities and perform a variety of physical activities. That is why it’s important that you be in good physical shape. Most employers will define the particular physical requirements for the job.
Personality and Soft Skill Requirements
While you may not be “required” to be a particular personality type or good communicator, many employers look for people who will represent their businesses or organizations in a positive light. Because security guards also may interact with people on a regular basis, it is also important that you be a clear communicator.
There are a number of other soft and hard skills that may be required by your employer or may increase your likelihood of landing a particular job. It is important that you understand what employers are looking for in your area and take steps to bolster your resume and expertise. For example, you may consider taking additional security guard training on topics like communications, crowd control, bomb threat response, and report writing.
How to Find Security Jobs
The great news is that if you meet the basic requirements above there are plenty of opportunities in the security industry. But where do you start looking? Here are three great places to start.
- Word of mouth. Do you know anyone in the security industry? If so, they are a great first point of contact for you. Employers are often looking for quality talent, and the recommendation of a trusted employee carries a lot of weight.
- Online. The internet is also one of your best friends in today’s job market. Nearly all job listings find their way online today. So it’s easy to find jobs in your local area. That said, because all jobs are posted online, you may be competing with a large number of people for that job. This is why it’s important to consider taking additional security guard training to improve your resume and make your application more competitive.
- Direct hire with security providers. Chances are there are a number of security companies in your area. They are a great place to inquire about what employment opportunities are available. At very least they can help guide you to how to best get your foot in the door in the security industry.
NITA provides high-quality online training to help Security Professionals excel in their careers. Whether you’re looking to complete security guard licensing requirements, grow in your industry knowledge, or simply improve your skills—we can help!