To become a security guard, you will proceed through following 5 steps:
- Apply for an open position of security guard.
- Be interviewed for the position.
- Pass a background check.
- Get hired as a security guard.
- Receive on-the-job training once hired.
Most security guard jobs are entry level and typically require a high school diploma. Individuals seeking an edge in hiring can pursue additional education such as an associate’s degree in criminal justice.
What does a Security Guard do?
A security guard patrols and monitors buildings and other areas to prevent or stop incidents, such as theft or violence. Security guards also answer alarms, and may apprehend individuals who pose a security threat.
Many large organizations hire security guards and security directors, the latter of whom manages the guards and the security system overall.
Security guard specialties include retail loss prevention, armored car guards (who protect money and valuables transported from one location to another), gaming surveillance officers, and bouncers.
Some security guards go on to become police or law enforcement officers and study while working full-time to earn an online associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
A security guard is someone who patrols and inspects property against fire, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity. They monitor people and buildings in an effort to prevent crime.
Security Guard Responsibilities
Security guards typically performs the following:
- Protect and enforce laws on an employer’s property
- Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV cameras
- Control access for employees, visitors, and outside contractors
- Conduct security checks over a specified area
- Write comprehensive reports outlining what they observed while on patrol
- Interview witnesses for later court testimony
- Detain criminal violators
- Communicate closely with law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency medical personnel
- Document, usually daily, the activities, including disturbances that occurred. Clients then use the reports to assess potential damage from the disturbance.
- Ensure alarm systems, doors, and windows are all secure and properly working
- May interview witnesses and/or testify in court
- Patrol and inspect property to protect it from fire, theft, vandalism, or other criminal activities
Guards must remain alert, looking for anything out of the ordinary throughout their shift. In an emergency, guards may call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards may be armed.
Depending on the setting, a security guard’s duties may vary significantly. In some instances, a security guard remains “static,” e.g. stays in the same location, monitoring closed-circuit security feeds.
A security guard may also monitor employees as they enter and exit the building or perform certain activities, such as cash handling.
In mobile security positions, the security guards may patrol and monitor on foot or in cars.
- In retail stores, guards protect people, records, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers or employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, or patrol parking lots.
- In office buildings, banks, hotels, and hospitals, guards maintain order and protect the organization’s customers, staff, and property.
- In museums or art galleries, guards protect paintings and exhibits by watching people and inspecting packages entering and leaving the building.
- In factories, government buildings, and military bases, security guards protect information and products and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.
- At universities, in parks, and at sports stadiums, guards do crowd control, supervise parking and seating, and direct traffic.
- At bars and nightclubs, guards (or bouncers) keep under-age people from entering, collect cover charges at the door, and maintain order among customers.
- Guards who work as transportation security screeners protect people, transportation equipment, and freight at airports, train stations, and other transportation facilities.
What is the workplace of a Security Guard like?
Security guards work in a wide variety of environments, including public buildings, retail stores, and office buildings. Guards who serve as transportation security screeners work in air, sea, and rail terminals and other transportation facilities, and are employed by the federal government. Gaming surveillance officers do most of their work in casino observation rooms, using audio and video equipment.
Most security guards spend considerable time on their feet, either assigned to a specific post or patrolling buildings and grounds. Some may sit for long hours behind a counter or in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community. Some security guards provide surveillance around the clock by working shifts of eight hours or longer with rotating schedules.
Guards who work during the day may have a great deal of contact with other employees and the public. Although the work can be routine, it can also be hazardous, particularly when an altercation occurs.
Candidates with an associate’s degree or higher and/or who have a knowledge of a second language may have a hiring advantage. Previous law enforcement or military experience may also be an advantage.
As a security guard provides safety for the employer by guarding against violations of the law as well as disturbances that could result in a loss to the client. Most security officers work in the private sector. Many businesses employ security guards, including banks, museums, hospitals, office buildings, nightclubs, and stores. Security guards must also:
- Be able to communicate effectively orally and in writing
- Be able to think quickly and critically
- Be mindful of customer and public service
- Be legally allowed to carry a handgun, if the position requires use of a firearm
- Exercise good judgment in potentially dangerous situations
- Have knowledge of public safety and security
- Possess knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern the security field
- Work well independently and with others
Unarmed guards generally need to have a high school diploma or GED, although some jobs may not have any specific educational requirements. For armed guards, employers usually prefer people who are high school graduates or who have some coursework in criminal justice.
Some employers prefer to hire security guards with some higher education, such as a police science or criminal justice degree. Programs and courses that focus specifically on security guards also are available at some post-secondary schools.
Many employers give newly hired guards instruction before they start the job and provide on-the-job training. Training covers numerous topics, such as emergency procedures, detention of suspected criminals, and communication skills.
Training varies depending on state regulations and the position. Armed security guards usually require more extensive training due to firearms use; armed security guards may also have to pass a firearms exam. Ongoing training in best practices, the use of force, and updates to state and local laws is common for security guards.
Drug testing is often required and may be ongoing and random. Many jobs also require a driver’s license. An increasing number of states are making ongoing training a legal requirement for keeping a license. Guards who carry weapons must be licensed by the appropriate government authority.
Armed guard positions also 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 typical for armed guards.