How To Become a Security Guard

If you make good decisions, pay close attention to the world around you and are in excellent physical shape, you may wonder how to become a security guard. Security guards, sometimes called security officers, try to prevent crimes and protect people and property. They do this by monitoring threats during patrols of a property or while watching video surveillance footage. They work in industries such as investigation and security services, government agencies and educational services. Security guards often find employment in banks, office buildings, museums, shopping centers, movie theaters, schools, sports arenas, hotels, restaurants and hospitals.

While security guards are not law enforcement personnel and do not have legal authority to make arrests, they can ensure that rules and laws are followed, investigate suspicious persons or behavior and detain individuals who trespass on the property or otherwise break rules. If an alarm system indicates that there is a problem on the property or video surveillance footage shows behavior that could be cause for concern, a security guard is responsible for investigating the problem and reporting his or her findings.

For many positions as unarmed security guards, a high school diploma or a GED is the highest level of education required. However, completing a degree program in criminal justice, police science, law enforcement or security guard training specifically can improve an aspiring security guard’s opportunities for securing a higher level job, such as a position as an armed security guard or a position with a company that seeks candidates with a formal college education. Earning a degree can also improve a security guard’s chances for advancement later on in their careers.

Regardless of education level, security guards often learn at least some of their work responsibilities through on-the-job training in how to handle an emergency situation or detain trespassers or suspects appropriately. Security guards who carry guns may also be required to complete yearly training courses in firearm safety. In many states, security guards must obtain a license to work in this position. Each state sets its own licensure requirements, but a background check is often necessary, as is some form of formal instruction. To enhance their job prospects, some security guards seek certification as a Certified Protection Professional from an organization called ASIS International.

Security guards earn a median salary of $23,920 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With experience and a college education, security guards may be able to advance to similar but higher paying positions, such as gaming surveillance officer or gaming investigator, a position with a median annual salary of $30,680, or transportation security screener, with a median salary of $37,070 per year. The job outlook for security guards is positive, with the BLS anticipating a 19 percent rise in career opportunities between 2010 and 2020. If you are observant and have excellent physical strength and stamina, knowing how to become a security guard could be your first step toward an exciting new career.

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