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Starting a Career as a Security Guard

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Working as a security guard is challenging but rewarding. Our guards are responsible for providing safety in a variety of settings. Our clients depend on us to protect their property, their customers, and their employees. So, what does it take to become a security guard? If you are considering a career in security, read on to learn what qualities are sought after and what you can expect.

Common Duties and Tasks Listing common duties could be considered a misnomer. The truth is your job description may vary wildly based on the job you take. Static security guards, for instance, typically monitor closed-circuit television feeds from a single room. Patrol guards will walk, drive, or bike through properties watching for safety hazards or suspicious activity. Fire Watch guards temporarily take over safety watch for a downed fire system. Event security, VIP bodyguard, and employee escort at night are just another taste of the security work available. Some duties do remain constant. As a security guard, you must:

  • Effectively and closely communicate with law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical personnel, etc.

  • Document everything— logs will often be client-specific but typically involve daily notation of activities, including disturbances.

  • Ensure that alarm systems, doors, and windows are secured and/or functioning

  • Interview witnesses

  • Testify in court

  • Patrol and inspect the property, watching for fire, theft, vandalism, or other suspicious or dangerous activities.

Preparing for the Job Security jobs are often listed in the ‘entry-level’ category. Most will require a high school diploma, but seeking degrees in criminal justice can give you an edge. Depending on the area you plan to seek employment in, you may also consider taking on a second language. Qualities companies want to see in their guards include the following:

  • Ability to legally own and carry a handgun (for armed positions)

  • Effective oral and written communication

  • Good, clear judgement under pressure

  • Knowledge of laws and regulations within the security field

  • Mindful of the public

  • Public safety and security knowledge

  • Quick, critical thinking

  • Reliable means of transportation and communication (such as a phone or pager)

  • Work both independently or in a team

  • Willingness to participate in pre-employment screening, including background checks and drug screening

All security-guards-to-be undergo a similar application process:

  • Fill out an application

  • Accept an interview

  • Pass the background check

  • Accept the position

  • Undergo training

Training will vary based on both the company and the specific position. For instance, Fire Watch security guards must be OSHA certified to work.

Job-Specific Training Congratulations on your new position! Now it’s time to learn the specific tasks and procedures involved with your chosen company and position. This can involve anything from sensitivity and de-escalation training to fire watch certification. Length and intensity of training will vary based on the position for which you applied; it’s a good idea to ask during the interview what training will be included for the position so that you can be prepared.

Guard licenses and certifications also vary by state, so be sure to know your state’s requirements and see how your new employer will help you earn them.

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