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How To Become a Security Guard in 7 Steps

Working as a security guard can provide a fulfilling career for those who have an interest in safety and security. A security guard protects a specific area, item, building, person or group of people. If you’re interested in pursuing this role, you may benefit from learning about the career path and gathering additional information about the job.

In this article, we discuss how to become a security guard and the main duties when working in this field.

What does a security guard do?

Security guards monitor and patrol buildings and areas to prevent crimes from occurring, such as public disturbances, vandalism, theft or acts of violence. A security guard may work for a specific organization to protect its facility or valuables, or they may work for a security services firm on a contract basis. Security guards can work in various settings, such as banks, hospitals, museums, retail stores, nightclubs, bars and office buildings.

Companies that provide transport services for cash and other valuables often employ security guards to protect the vehicles that carry the items. Security guards may require additional training to become an armored vehicle guard. Other specialties for security guards include gaming surveillance, nightclub security and retail loss prevention.

Security guard average salary

The national average salary for a security guard starting from $36,052 per year. This salary can vary, however, depending on the security guard’s exact job duties, geographical location and experience level. Typically, candidates with additional training, certifications, experience and qualifications can secure a higher salary that reflects their abilities.

How to become a security guard

Here are some steps you can take to earn the required education, training and qualifications to pursue a career as a security guard:

1. Get your high school diploma

The only formal educational requirement for most security guard positions includes a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification, such as a General Educational Development (GED) credential. Most positions and employers also look for candidates at least 18 years of age. Having a high school diploma or equivalent can provide you with the necessary skills in problem-solving, written communication and observation.

2. Consider pursuing additional education

Although many employers may not require higher education, completing college-level courses can help you become a more attractive security candidate. If you choose to pursue additional education, consider taking courses that relate to the specific duties or topics of your desired role, such as technology- or computer-focused classes or those designed for individuals pursuing careers in law enforcement. Many security guards pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, public safety or surveillance.

3. Maintain your physical fitness

Security guards spend most of their working hours on their feet, often walking around or standing throughout an entire shift. They may also lift heavy loads, so the ability to lift can help you stand out as a candidate and ensure you can perform the required duties. In addition, these officers may run or chase individuals who pose a threat, making it important for candidates to maintain physical fitness and the ability to move quickly.

4. Improve your communication skills

A role as a security guard often includes the use of excellent written and oral communication skills. These skills allow you to give and receive instructions and communicate with individuals in the organization you protect. You may also use written communication to report potential risks or document incidents that may occur during your shift.

5. Pass a background check

Since security guards work to protect people, property and valuables. This means that employers look for candidates who they can trust. Nearly every security guard position requires an extensive background check. When applying for security jobs, ensure you can pass a background check and have a clean criminal history.

6. Receive training

You may enter a training program for security guards on your own, but most security guards receive training while on the job. Most security training programs include courses on how to arrest people, ethical restraining methods, private property laws and people’s rights. Your employer may also provide more specialized training modules for job-specific regulations, especially in more complex environments, such as casinos or government building security positions.

7. Continue training while working

Your exact title and the regulations of the state you work in can dictate what type of training you receive. Armed security guards receive more extensive training and may require a passing grade on a state-issued firearms exam to receive a permit to carry a weapon. If your position requires you to carry a gun, you may complete regular courses throughout your career to maintain your firearm permit.

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