About 1.2 million security guards are employed in the United States. Security services is one of the largest employment fields in the United States. About 59 percent of all security guards are employed in the investigation and security industry, or contract security firms, in the United States. The remainder are in-house guards employed by various business and government establishments. Many law enforcement officers also work as security guards during their off hours, to supplement their income. They may work at construction sites and apartment complexes, where their presence can ward off crime.
People interested in careers in security services generally apply directly to security companies. Some jobs may be available through state or private employment services. People interested in security guard positions should apply directly to government agencies.
Beginning security personnel receive varied amounts of training. Training requirements are generally increasing as modern, highly sophisticated security systems become more common. Many employers give newly hired security guards instruction before they start the job and also provide several weeks of on-the-job training. Guards receive training in protection, public relations, report writing, crisis deterrence, first aid, and the use of firearms.
Those employed at establishments that place a heavy emphasis on security usually receive extensive formal training. For example, guards at nuclear power plants may undergo several months of training before being placed on duty under close supervision. Guards may be taught to use firearms, administer first aid, operate alarm systems and electronic security equipment, handle emergencies, and spot and deal with security problems.
Many of the less strenuous guard positions are filled by older people who are retired police officers or armed forces veterans. Because of the odd hours required for many positions, this occupation appeals to many people seeking part-time work or second jobs.
In most cases, security guards receive periodic salary increases, and guards employed by larger security companies or as part of a military-style guard force may increase their responsibilities or move up in rank. A guard with outstanding ability, especially with some college education, may move up to the position of chief guard, gaining responsibility for the supervision and training of an entire guard force in an industrial plant or a department store, or become director of security services for a business or commercial building. A few guards with management skills open their own contract security guard agencies; other guards become licensed private detectives. Experienced guards may become bodyguards for political figures, executives, and celebrities, or choose to enter a police department or other law enforcement agency. Additional training may lead to a career as a corrections officer.
Increased training and experience with a variety of security and surveillance systems may lead security guards into higher-paying security consultant careers. They may advance from their to own their own consulting firms, or instruct and train other security personnel.
Tips for Entry
Search for security guard job postings on these Web sites:
Conduct an informational interview with a security guard to learn more about their work. Ask your school's career services office for help with setting this up.
Read articles on security topics and keep up with developments in the field by visiting ASIS International's Web site, https://www.asisonline.org/publications--resources/security-topics.