Private security jobs are highly sought-after positions, and many companies prefer people with law enforcement or military backgrounds. However, there are plenty of private security companies that hire individuals with little or no experience and provide them with educational and on-the-job training. Many private companies and businesses require more security than the occasional patrols that state and local law enforcement agencies can provide. So, private security performs a vital function for contemporary companies. Here’s everything you need to know before choosing a career as a security officer because if you think it just entails carrying a walkie-talkie and self-protection weapons, you’ve got a lot more to learn.
Types of Security Jobs
Some jobs are more dangerous than others due to some clients’ high profiles. Positions range from guarding high-profile individuals to valuable objects. Work shifts vary enormously, depending on the person or company hiring for security. Don’t expect to start your career in security in a protective detail for a musician or movie star.
There are extensive qualifications to meet before landing your dream job in security. There are complicated background checks, education, and training for most positions. Entry-level jobs guarding properties such as college housing or apartments may be less stringent than others but, in general, be prepared to wait. The process is long. Potential employers look for candidates with good backgrounds and good credit, and they may even check motor vehicle records. You must be in good physical shape, as you’ll be walking a lot, and certain employers may prefer people who can lift 50-75 pounds or more.
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are crucial. You also must write well. Many people require potential security guards to be fluent in English and may assess your grasp of the language. The interview is the perfect time for the employer to evaluate your ability to communicate. Security guards interact with the public frequently, so you must have the right disposition and attitude. As a security guard, you represent the business you protect, so having the right demeanor is essential.
Your presence alone may be a deterrent to criminals. Therefore, appearance is also important. If you look sloppy, unkempt, and out of shape, people may think that security is lax enough for them to bypass you to gain access to the business and commit vandalism, theft, or harm someone. Training and education also come into play because they can help you respond to threats and challenges appropriately. Most security companies or private businesses won’t hire you without some working experience. Other words, a security job can’t be your first job.
Some companies require a degree in criminal justice or security from a college, university, or vocational program. This education is in addition to the on the job training and knowledge you’ll receive once someone hires you. Some companies may accept law enforcement certification instead of a university degree, depending on your experience. At the very least, you must have a high school diploma or GED. Many large facilities such as hospitals may require at least an associate degree. If you are not the college type or don’t want to be a law enforcement officer first, you may just want to start in an entry-level position where you’ll receive training and experience.
Every company or individual hiring a security guard has different training requirements. Training may include dealing with angry or violent people, how to use a surveillance system, how to report incidents, how to work with law enforcement, and more. Often each state requires general certifications or licensing, so you’ll likely attend a training academy for security officers. Training subjects include legal limitations, duties, and security guard roles. Additional training may consist of certification on equipment such as the common expandable baton or handcuffing techniques. After any state-mandated training, your employer will have additional training specific to their business.
Entry Level vs. Experienced Positions
Like most careers, if you have no experience in the security industry, you’ll likely start in an entry-level position and work your way up to jobs that pay a better salary for expertise. Premier security companies prefer to see some related experience such as previous security, military, or law enforcement. Some financial as well as large private health companies won’t hire inexperienced security guards either. You’ll likely start unarmed and working for a company doing a security position that involves customer service.
Small companies often hire from agencies that provide security officers with little to no experience. Even some large agencies such as the United States Transportation Security Administration will hire less experienced security officers if they can make it through in-house training. The average starting pay for a security guard is approximately $12 per hour. This amount may seem low, but most companies offer critical benefits such as paid vacations, dental, medical, 401K or retirement plans, and sometimes profit sharing.
Once you start, there are usually plenty of opportunities for advancement, as long as you are willing to put in the work. One way to increase your chances of getting better positions is to obtain your firearms permit. Salaries for armed guards are about 30 percent more, and some companies won’t hire you without the permit. College degrees can also be quite useful for advancement opportunities.
Benefits of Being a Security Guard
There are many great benefits to being a security officer. As a security guard, you’ll be on your feet and walk a lot. The physical activity will help you stay fit and healthy. As you gain experience, more opportunities will open up for you, and you’ll advance to positions with more authority. Eventually, you may end up running a security program or supervising other security guards. Seniority comes with greater responsibilities and increased satisfaction.
Every security officer position is vital. You serve a critical role in the safety of people and the security of businesses. This job requires dedication and requires you to invest significant amounts of time in training and education if you want to advance to more desirable positions.
These investments separate those who genuinely want careers in the security industry from those just dabbling in the field. You should be proud to be a security guard, as it’s an important position that provides safety and security to people and businesses.