Security Sign


Are you looking for a job that requires little formal training and that will allow you to start fairly quickly? Would you like to find a position that offers on-the-job training? Are you interested in crime prevention or investigation? Would you like a respected position in an exciting field? You may want to consider security guard or security officer jobs. The hours are flexible, you can work full-time or part-time, and sometimes people become guards if they want to earn extra income from a second job.

Security Guard Job Description

Security guards are hired to patrol private property and protect it from theft, vandalism, fire or trespassers. Sometimes they carry weapons. In other cases, they may carry communications equipment that allows them to quickly contact the police or other emergency services. In the case of any illegal activity on the property, guards need to be able to write a report explaining what happened. In some cases they may also be interviewed by the police or insurance investigators, and sometimes they may be required to testify in court.

Some security officers stand guard in one location, such as those who work in security booths at gated communities, or at the security desk in an office building. Other guards will monitor closed-circuit TV cameras and respond to alarms. Many of them walk or drive around the property to watch for criminal activity.

Security guards may work in department stores to prevent theft by either customers or employees. Sometimes they work as undercover store detectives to catch shoplifters. Others work in shopping centers, theaters, banks, hospitals, bus stations, railroad stations and similar properties. In fact, the number of locations where they may work seems almost limitless: museums, art galleries, factories, labs, government buildings, universities, sports stadiums, bars, nightclubs, and gated communities. There are many opportunities available for someone who is interested in corporate security careers, as well.

For those who are seriously interested in a career in security, here's a quick link to an Amazon book on Security Guard Careers.


Private security careers may also involve special training for certain types of work. For example, armored car guards protect money while it is being driven between businesses and banks. Gaming surveillance officers or gaming investigators work in the security departments of casinos to prevent cheating or theft.

Some people who are interested in a career in this field may go to work for the TSA, the federal agency that screens passengers and cargo at transportation facilities.

Work Environment

The work environment varies dramatically, depending on the type of security being performed. For example, some guards may sit all day at a desk inside an office building. Others may stand all day in the guard house of a gated community. Armored car guards spend most of their time riding in a vehicle. The security staff that works for a casino or department store may spend a considerable amount of time monitoring banks of computer screens in a private office.

Typically, guards work 8 hour shifts. However, about 1 out of 6 of them will work at the job part time.

Although rare, security personnel can sometimes be put in personal danger while they are working. It is important for their own safety that they remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times.

Qualifications and Training

There are no special requirements to become a security guard. People who have a high school diploma are preferred over those who do not have a high school diploma. Often, a GED is acceptable. There are a few situations where some additional education or training may be required. For example, many casinos require that their security people also have spent time in college, preferably taking police science or criminal justice classes.

Most guards receive on-the-job training. Armed security officer jobs will require that you receive more training, because their employers do not want to be liable for any unnecessary shootings. These armed guards will be trained and tested on the use of firearms, and will also have to learn the laws that govern when it is acceptable to use force. It is recommended that security guards get at least 48 hours of training during their first 100 days of work, and pass a test on law enforcement, handling evidence, the use of force, report writing and emergency procedures, among other things.

Many security officer careers also require that you have a driver's license. If you are going to carry a weapon, preference will be given to applicants who have worked as police officers or who have handled firearms in the military. If you are uncomfortable carrying a weapon, however, remember that there are also many types of unarmed security guard jobs available.

Security Guard Licenses

Most states require that security guards be licensed. The usual requirements are that the guard be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, and have some classroom training. Random drug testing may be required. If the guard is going to carry a weapon, they will need to obtain a permit or certification and receive additional training.

Job Opportunities for Security Officers

Over a million people in the United States work as security officers. It is predicted that demand for new security officers will grow faster than the average employment opportunity in the coming decade. As more people become concerned about terrorism and crime, the need for security officers will grow. This occupation also receives a boost each time a new state legalizes casino gambling.


According to the federal government's Occupational Employment Statistics, the typical full-time security guard earns about $24,000 to $30,000 a year, although this varies depending on the state where you live, and the type of security work you perform. The top 10% of security guards earn $40,000 or more a year. For those security officers who work in casinos, the starting salary is higher and the top 10% earn $48,000 a year or more.

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Statistics courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics at

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