Career Attributes

  • $27,803
  • 1,123,300
  • 2.7
  • 6.3%
  • High school diploma
  • Criminal Justice
More Attributes

Overview

Most security jobs which call for unarmed personnel are entry and typically require a high school diploma or GED equivalency. Candidates must typically be at least 18 years of age. Those who wish to enhance their employability and/or seek more senior positions may pursue post-secondary education, such as an Associate’s Degree in police science or criminal justice.

Upon hire, most security guards must complete training specific to the needs of their employer and/or, in the case of a security services firm, their employer’s clients. In the United States, training also varies depending on state regulations. Armed guards, of course, must undergo training in the use of firearms and very often have to also pass a firearms exam to obtain a license issued by the appropriate government authority. Increasingly, states are making continuing education a legal requirement for maintaining a firearms license. Background, criminal record, fingerprint checks, and drug testing are another common prerequisite of employment, especially for armed security guards.

Most education programs, whether they take place at an educational institution or private company, include instruction in best practices, emergency procedures, detention of suspected offenders, the use of force, communications skills, and state and local laws and regulations.

How long does it take to become a Security Guard?

In general, in the U.S., security guards must complete a minimum of 40 hours of coursework to work in the field. Specific requirements vary by state, but it is often necessary to complete eight hours of this training to become eligible to apply for security guard jobs.

Individuals who choose to complete a related certificate or Associate’s Degree program in a related discipline, such as criminal justice, will, of course, spend considerably longer on the educational track: normally between six months and two years.

Steps to becoming a Security Guard

The process of becoming a security guard includes obtaining a high school diploma; possibly completing some formal post-secondary education; fulfilling state-mandated security, training, licensing, and continuing education requirements; and undergoing any additional employer-specific training.

1 High School

A high school diploma or GED is commonly the only formal education requirement needed to work as a security guard.

2 Post-secondary Education (optional)

Though it is quite rare, companies may prefer to hire security guards with a two- or even a four- year degree in criminal justice, police science, or another applicable field. Program curricula may include investigation techniques, security management, psychology, juvenile justice, and criminal law. Most individuals who earn one of these degrees, however, tend to do so with a longer term view to employment beyond the security guard occupation.

3 State Requirements

In the U.S., occupational requirements for both unarmed and armed guards are mandated at the state level. These requirements cover general preconditions, as well as security checks, training, licensing, and license maintenance/continuing education. Click below to access information specific to each state.

How to Become a Security Guard in Alabama
How to Become a Security Guard in Alaska
How to Become a Security Guard in Arizona
How to Become a Security Guard in Arkansas
How to Become a Security Guard in California
How to Become a Security Guard in Colorado
How to Become a Security Guard in Connecticut
How to Become a Security Guard in Delaware
How to Become a Security Guard in Florida
How to Become a Security Guard in Georgia
How to Become a Security Guard in Hawaii
How to Become a Security Guard in Idaho
How to Become a Security Guard in Illinois
How to Become a Security Guard in Indiana
How to Become a Security Guard in Iowa
How to Become a Security Guard in Kansas
How to Become a Security Guard in Kentucky
How to Become a Security Guard in Louisiana
How to Become a Security Guard in Maine
How to Become a Security Guard in Maryland
How to Become a Security Guard in Massachusetts
How to Become a Security Guard in Michigan
How to Become a Security Guard in Mississippi
How to Become a Security Guard in Missouri
How to Become a Security Guard in Montana
How to Become a Security Guard in Nebraska
How to Become a Security Guard in Nevada
How to Become a Security Guard in New Hampshire
How to Become a Security Guard in New Jersey
How to Become a Security Guard in New Mexico
How to Become a Security Guard in New York
How to Become a Security Guard in North Carolina
How to Become a Security Guard in North Dakota
How to Become a Security Guard in Ohio
How to Become a Security Guard in Oklahoma
How to Become a Security Guard in Oregon
How to Become a Security Guard in Pennsylvania
How to Become a Security Guard in Rhode Island
How to Become a Security Guard in South Carolina
How to Become a Security Guard in South Dakota
How to Become a Security Guard in Tennessee
How to Become a Security Guard in Texas
How to Become a Security Guard in Utah
How to Become a Security Guard in Vermont
How to Become a Security Guard in Virginia
How to Become a Security Guard in Washington
How to Become a Security Guard in West Virginia
How to Become a Security Guard in Wisconsin
How to Become a Security Guard in Wyoming

4 On-the-job Training

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that most employers of security guards provide new-hires with supplemental on-the- job training specific to the needs of the employer and and/or its clientele.

Duration and depth of training will vary by employer and job duties. Curricula typically include protection and defense methods, report writing, first aid, and emergency protocols. Guards who carry weapons generally undergo more extensive training than those who are unarmed; they will most certainly learn firearm safety and laws regarding use of force.

Some employers implement the training standards set forth by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International, which recommends that trainees receive 48 hours of instruction in the first 100 days of service. Under ASIS International guidelines, trainees must pass examinations that assess proficiency in topics like crime prevention, emergency procedures, evidence management, and report writing. They may also be required to complete annual continuing education courses.

5 Resources

International Foundation for Protection Officers
A professional organization that provides security officers with educational and training opportunities, resources, and an online library of the latest articles and reports on the security industry

Security Magazine
A professional publication for the security industry, including security officers, that provides the latest news and information

The National Council of Investigation and Security Services
A professional organization dedicated to lobbying for legislation that protects security companies and associations and their employees

The United Federation of Special Police and Security Officers, Inc.
A non-profit labor organization founded to protect the rights of security officers

Should I become a Security Guard?

Successful security guards typically possess the following qualities:

Honesty & Trustworthiness
Employers need to trust security guards to make the right decisions to protect their business and the general public. Creating and maintaining an honest and trusting relationship is key.

Quick Reflexes
Valued security guards are alert at all times. They are able to assess and analyze what is going on around them and quickly react and respond to potentially dangerous situations.

Rationality
A large part of the security guard’s job entails making wise judgement calls about whether something is a legitimate threat, and if it is a threat, how big it is. Rationality relies on making sense of each aspect of the situation and being able to predict how it will play out.

Leadership and Team Player Perspective
While security guards often work alone, it is not uncommon for them to work in teams to secure the perimeter of a business. In these circumstances, it is especially important to know when to assert one’s self and when to follow the lead or orders of someone else.

Communication Skills
Security guards are required to communicate with their employer, their teammates, and the public. Knowing which information to communicate to whom is fundamental to maintaining safety and security.

Physical Fitness and Strength
Security guards must be prepared for the possibility of physical confrontation. Whether this takes the form of chasing a thief or breaking up a fight, guards need to maintain reasonable fitness and strength to keep up with potential offenders.

Respect for Life
When involved in physical confrontation, security guards face the issue of how much force to exert. The challenge is to strike a balance between enough force to subdue an offender without causing injury to either the offender or any onlookers.

Some additional information about the job to help you decide if it is a fit for you:

• The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that security guards have a higher rate of injury and illness than is average for other occupations.

• Security guards are generally always in demand. Many different companies across a wide range of industries require security guards for many different situations.

• Security is a 24/7 service. This means that security guards can often choose from a variety of full- or part- time opportunities and shift options to suit their own schedules.

• The security field offers variety. Some positions are largely stationary, while others are patrolling jobs. Some involve working among a lot of daytime activity, while certain nighttime shifts offer quiet, peaceful hours.

• Working as a security guard enhances one’s observation and people skills and provides significant crisis training – all of which are valuable life skills.

• Often, the watchful presence of a security guard is enough to deter criminals and prevent incidents. People are often grateful for the presence of a security guard; helping them feel comfortable and safe can be a rewarding experience.

What are Security Guards like?

Investigative

Based on our pool of users, security guards tend to be predominately investigative people. This finding supports the nature of the job. Whether their role requires that they remain ‘static’ in one position, monitoring a closed-circuit security feed, for example; or patrolling an expansive property, the work of a security guard is always, to some degree, analytical, exploratory, inspective, and essentially investigative.

Security Guards by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 1939 CareerExplorer users

Are Security Guards happy?

8thpercentile

Security guards rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 8th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.

While lay observers may see the often lonely and late-night work environment as a potential reason for this extremely low happiness metric, studies reveal that lack of growth opportunities and lack of rewards are what affect the overall sentiment around the occupation.

Security Guard Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Security Guards

The most common degree held by Security Guards is Criminal Justice. 24% of Security Guards had a degree in Criminal Justice before becoming Security Guards. That is over 17 times the average across all careers. Business Management And Administration graduates are the second most common among Security Guards, representing 7% of Security Guards in the CareerExplorer user base, which is 1.1 times the average.

Security Guard Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Security Guard, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of Security Guards % of population Multiple
Criminal Justice 23.6% 1.4% 16.8×
Business Management And Administration 7.4% 6.5% 1.1×
Psychology 6.3% 7.0% 0.9×
Sociology 4.3% 2.1% 2.0×
Accounting 4.0% 1.9% 2.1×
Political Science 4.0% 2.9% 1.4×
Communications 3.6% 3.4% 1.1×
Criminology 3.6% 0.4% 8.3×
Liberal Arts 3.2% 1.9% 1.7×
Philosophy And Religious Studies 3.2% 1.6% 2.1×
History 3.1% 2.3% 1.4×
Fine Arts 2.9% 2.2% 1.3×
Biology 2.7% 3.6% 0.7×
Computer Science 2.5% 3.0% 0.9×
General Education 2.5% 0.7% 3.8×
International Relations 2.0% 1.5% 1.3×
Culinary Arts 2.0% 0.5% 4.0×
English Literature 1.8% 4.9% 0.4×
Graphic Design 1.8% 1.4% 1.3×
Anthropology And Archeology 1.6% 1.3% 1.3×
Business 1.4% 2.6% 0.6×
Social Sciences 1.4% 0.5% 2.9×
Economics 1.3% 4.0% 0.3×
Automotive Repair 1.3% 0.2% 6.1×
Drama 1.1% 1.1% 1.0×
Aerospace Engineering 1.1% 0.2% 4.5×
Community And Public Health 1.1% 0.8% 1.3×
General Science 1.1% 0.2% 6.4×

Security Guard Education Levels

89% of Security Guards have a high school diploma. 11% of Security Guards have an associate's degree.

No education 0%
High school diploma 89%
Associate's degree 11%
Bachelor's degree 0%
Master's degree 0%
Doctorate degree 0%

How to Become a Security Guard

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Career Attributes

  • $27,803
  • 1,123,300
  • 2.7
  • 6.3%
  • High school diploma
  • Criminal Justice
More Attributes