Unfortunately, the job of security guard is often looked at as being somewhat of a joke. To many people, including some in law enforcement, a person working as a security guard was nothing more than a “wannabe cop.”
The truth is that this role has a very long history, one that has served its purpose of protecting people, property, and assets well.
On a positive note, in the past 15 years or so, the true value of the security guard has been realized, to the point of law enforcement agencies see this professional as “one of the family” and Fortune 500 companies use guards onsite to maintain order and keep both employees and the business safe. Because perception has changed so dramatically, the very nature of the job has also changed where today, intense security guard training is a must.
Keep in mind there are still businesses that will hire security guards who have little or no formal training. For the sake of this article however, we are talking about a highly trained and respected guard, someone considered a real law enforcement professional who carries a weapon, has taken an oath to sacrifice life to protect others, and a person who has undergone specialized security guard training in order to offer exceptional services.
Duties of The Security Guard
It is mportant to note that while today’s security guard is well-respected, this is not a career for everyone. This is due to several factors…
- The physical demands of the job: Any individual working as a security guard needs to have great deal of physical endurance and stamina.
- The requirement to pass the appropriate tests.
- A clean background and history: the ability to pass background investigations (no criminal history) and drug screening.
The primary role of the security guard is to provide protection to people, buildings, infrastructures, and assets. This professional is hired by any number of businesses and companies; hotels, banks, theaters, shopping malls, arcades, nightclubs, or warehouses and so on. This professional will implement both internal and external monitoring using security cameras and televisions, as well as conducting vehicle and foot patrols to keep a watchful eye on any potential threat.
There are occasions when a security guard is hired to protect an individual or family, or merely to keep watch on a private residence while the homeowner is away. In this case, the duties are similar to those expected by a large company. Regardless, the primary responsibility for which security guard training is needed is to serve as a protector.
Conducting inspection work is also a vital role of the security guard. This can include tasks such as checking doors, windows, gates, and other entry points to buildings to confirm no attempt at compromise. Based on the work environment, inspection work might also entail checking visitor or delivery credentials, luggage, and vehicles. There are also times when a security guard is responsible for maintaining property, gathering background information, taking inventory, and assigning visitor badges or IDs.
Depending on the type of guard and level of security guard training, some carry a weapon and some do not. For the guard who is trained in firearms, part of the job involves taking a suspect or criminal into custody and calling for law enforcement backup.
However, for the security guard who does not carry a weapon, the goal would be to recognize suspicious activity, notify the appropriate local authority, and then assist if and when needed.
Much of the work performed by a trained security guard is the same as that of a police officer. However, without being a commissioned peace officer working for the government, limitations would exist. Even so, thanks to the type of security guard training offered today and the level of service this professional has to offer, a strong connection between commissioned officers and licensed guards exists.
Overview of Security Guard Training
Anyone who works as a security guard in any capacity has the potential to be in a dangerous situation, so it is not surprising to learn that proper security guard training is mandatory. Not only would this make you far more proficient and safe while on duty, it also provides the person or company hiring the guard with stronger peace of mind and confidence.
The term “security guard” is quite broad and so the exact type of training will coordinate with the position and job functions. A prime example is a security guard working for an armored car company; he or she would undergo far more extensive training than a security guard stationed at an apartment building. However, to secure the most stable and best-paying positions, obtaining the highest level of training and even some level of law enforcement education would be extremely beneficial.
In some cases, no formal training is required – only a high school diploma is required to be hired by a company for a basic level security guard. The employer will provide both instruction and on the job training. Although there are no formal requirements ASIS International has developed voluntary training guidelines, which include 48 hours of training within the first 100 days of employment.
Training is more extensive for armed guards (this too, can be provided by an employer) since employers are legally responsible for any use of force. In addition to training in the use of firearms, these guards will receive schooling in the laws that mandate the use of deadly force.
These days, the demand for highly qualified and trained professional guards is on the rise. As such, some employers are starting to show a preference for individuals with a college degree in law enforcement, as well as security guard training that involves successful completion of the police academy or at minimum, firearms and self-defense tactics.
As you can expect, the more qualified you are, you more you will earn (salaries can range from $20,000-$40,000 annually). Additional schooling also opens the door for advancement, to managerial or supervisory roles. Since many who work as security guards do not see it as a long term career, but a only as a short term job, there are opportunities for advancement for individuals who decide to stay in this industry.
Security Guard Licensing & Certification
Most states, provinces and localities will require some sort of licensing – which usually involves passing a background check and performing some sort of classroom training. Armed guards require additional licensing, and all licensed guards may have to pass random drug tests.
Certification is optional, but not mandatory. For those who are interested, ASIS offers the Certified Protection Professional certification.
Important stuff: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates a 14% increase in employment for security guards in the period between 2008 – 2018. That equates to about 152,000 new jobs. What is driving this increase? Concerns about crime, vandalism and terrorism, plus an increase in duties performed by security guards that were previously performed by police officers.