Security guards, also known as security officers, have the job of patrolling and inspecting property against illegal activities including theft and vandalism of property. They also safeguard property against fire, enforce property laws and work to deter all types of criminal activity. Some security officers are armed; however, most are not required to carry a firearm. Security officers write reports on certain activities that they have observed during their assigned shift if necessary. They also have the job of interviewing witnesses and victims of crimes, and are sometimes called on to testify in court.
Security Guard Job Responsibilities
Most security guards perform the same function. They generally have a station that they are assigned to, and their job is to make sure that they keep their station secure. A security officer will secure a station alone, or will be assigned to work together with another security officer. If a security guard is assigned to a large area, they are generally given a mobile device, such as a patrol car or a patrol cart in order to secure the premises thoroughly. Security guards can arrest or detain those who engage in criminal activity within their designated area. They can also detain those who are violating noise, traffic or any safety laws.
The responsibilities of the security guard will vary depending on the employer. A department store security guard will help to guard against theft, while helping to keep the overall environment secure. A parking lot security guard will patrol parking lots in order to deter criminal activities including robberies, car thefts and assaults. Security officers who work in hospitals and banks guard the premises in order to maintain order as well as protect the staff, the people and the property. At airports, rail terminals and bus terminals, security guards may be assigned to screen passengers, check for weapons and explosives using metal detectors and detain those in violation of safety laws.
Security guards also work in museums and in art galleries and have the job of protecting expensive paintings and other displays from theft. Security officers may also inspect packages of those entering certain facilities. You will find security officers at sporting event stadiums, colleges and universities and theme parks directing traffic, directing seating and supervising parking. You will also find security officers at nightclubs and bars checking identification and maintaining order in such facilities.
Training and Education Requirements
Security guards who are not armed do not have specific educational requirements. Armed guards generally need to have at least a high school diploma or a GED. Most security officers must undergo on-the-job training, and this training is generally provided by the employer. The level of training required depends on the job. Training for unarmed guards is generally much less rigorous than training for guards that must be armed.
Guards that are armed are required to receive formal training in a variety of areas, including weapon retention, the use of force and various security and weapon laws. Armed guards are also required to be tested for proper weapons use prior to securing their station. Many states are requiring that armed security guards receive ongoing weapons training. Both armed and unarmed security guards receive training in crisis prevention, report writing, contacting law enforcement, handling evidence and first aid. Some employers require security guards to have police training or a degree in criminal justice. There are also schools available that train those interested in security guard careers.
Security Guard Salary and Wages
The average starting salary for an unarmed security guard with no experience is $19,400 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The median salary for a security officer is $27,200 per year. The top ten percent of security guards earn over $39,300 per year. Armed security officers salaries are higher. Those who work in government facilities or in investigation security services have an average starting salary of $27,100 per year. The median salary for an armed officer is $36,400 per year. The top ten percent of armed security officers earn over $48,300 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Certifications and License Requirement
The majority of States require security guards to be licensed. In order to receive a license as a security guard, an individual must be at least 18 years of age, pass a criminal background check, and complete classroom training including emergency procedures training and criminal detention training. Security guards who are armed must be licensed to carry a weapon. They also must undergo training that allows them to make arrests if necessary. Background checks and random drug tests are also required for armed security officers working for government facilities. The majority of security officer positions require that guards hold a valid drivers license and have a good driving history.
American Society for Individual Security (ASIS) is the most respected organization for security professionals. ASIS was founded in 1955 and currently has 37,000 members. The mission of ASIS is to increase the productivity and effectiveness of security professionals. Educational courses, annual seminars, exhibits and community programs are used to serve this mission. ASIS is an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that enhances knowledge of security while enhancing the performance of those in the security field.