A security guard’s primary responsibility is to patrol his or her assigned areas, vigilant for any criminal activity. Specific requirements vary, but most states require security guards to be registered or licensed, the prerequisites of which often include that an applicant has a high school diploma, is at least 18 years old, passes a background check and undergoes special training.
For armed security guards, proper licensing and training in firearms is also required. Currently, one of the hottest markets for security guards is with the Transportation Security Administration, which handles airport security and screenings.
Generally no degree beyond a high school diploma is required to become a security guard, but any advanced training in criminal justice, security or corrections can significantly increase both an applicant’s chances of being hired and an employee’s prospects of promotion.
For this reason, future security guards or those advancing within the career are advised to pursue higher education, which is available through online education.
Security guards may be armed or unarmed, but their duty is always to patrol and protect their assigned areas. If something is amiss, security guards are expected to handle the problem, and for this reason, are often trained in self-defense, emergency techniques and basic detention procedures. Security guards may also write reports, interview victims or witnesses and testify in court.
Industries employing the largest number of security guards are general medical and surgical hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, local government and investigation fields, and guard and armored car services. With a projection of 175,000 additional jobs added in this sector over the next decade, the Department of Labor describes employment of security guards as growing “faster than average.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the middle 50 percent of security guards earned between $17,620 and $27,430 in 2006, with a median salary of $21,530. Of the industries employing the largest number of security guards, the median salary was highest among those who worked in general medical and surgical hospitals, at $26,610.
According to Indeed.com, the average salary of an unarmed security guard is $19,000 while that of an armed security guard is $33,000, showing the difference a weapons permit can make in earning capacity.