Security Guard (Careers Without College)
Jan Goldberg  More Info

ON GUARD! The Security Officers' Handbook
Steven James Foreman  More Info

Effective Security Officer's Training Manual, Second Edition
Ralph Brislin CPP  More Info

Basic Training Manual for Healthcare Security Officers
International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety  More Info

SOLO: Security Operations for the Lone Officer
Prof Leonard C Holifield CPS  More Info

Effective Report Writing for the Security Officer
Ralph Brislin  More Info

Duties And Responsibilities For Security Officers In NYS
Terrance W. Hoffman  More Info

Security Officer's Manual
Bill Clede  More Info

The Role of the Security Officer: A Comprehensive Instruction Manual of Safety and Security for the Security Profession in America
Michael James Jaquish  More Info

Security Officers And Policing: Powers, Culture And Control in the Governance of Private Space
Mark Button  More Info

Security Officer (Passbooks for Career Opportunities)
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Security Guards

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Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Significant Points
  • Opportunities for most jobs should be favorable, but competition is expected for higher paying positions at facilities requiring longer periods of training and a high level of security, such as nuclear power plants and weapons installations.
  • Because of limited formal training requirements and flexible hours, this occupation attracts many individuals seeking a second or part-time job.
  • Some positions, such as those of armored car guards, are hazardous.
Nature of the Work    

Guards, who are also called security officers, patrol and inspect property to protect against fire, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity. These workers protect their employers investment, enforce laws on the property, and deter criminal activity and other problems. They use radio and telephone communications to call for assistance from police, fire, or emergency medical services as the situation dictates. Security guards write comprehensive reports outlining their observations and activities during their assigned shift. They also may interview witnesses or victims, prepare case reports, and testify in court.

Although all security guards perform many of the same duties, their specific duties vary with whether the guard works in a static security position or on a mobile patrol. Guards assigned to static security positions usually serve the client at one location for a specified length of time. These guards must become closely acquainted with the property and people associated with it and must often monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV cameras. In contrast, guards assigned to mobile patrol duty drive or walk from location to location and conduct security checks within an assigned geographical zone. They may detain or arrest criminal violators, answer service calls concerning criminal activity or problems, and issue traffic violation warnings.

The security guards job responsibilities also vary with the size, type, and location of the employer. In department stores, guards protect people, records, merchandise, money, and equipment. They often work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers or employees, and they help apprehend shoplifting suspects prior to the arrival of the police. Some shopping centers and theaters have officers who patrol their parking lots to deter car thefts and robberies. In office buildings, banks, and hospitals, guards maintain order and protect the institutions property, staff, and customers. At air, sea, and rail terminals and other transportation facilities, guards protect people, freight, property, and equipment. Using metal detectors and high-tech equipment, they may screen passengers and visitors for weapons and explosives, ensure that nothing is stolen while a vehicle is being loaded or unloaded, and watch for fires and criminals.

Guards who work in public buildings such as museums or art galleries protect paintings and exhibits by inspecting people and packages entering and leaving the building. In factories, laboratories, government buildings, data processing centers, and military bases, security officers protect information, products, computer codes, and defense secrets and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises. Guards working at universities, parks, and sports stadiums perform crowd control, supervise parking and seating, and direct traffic. Security guards stationed at the entrance to bars and places of adult entertainment, such as nightclubs, prevent access by minors, collect cover charges at the door, maintain order among customers, and protect property and patrons.

Armored car guards protect money and valuables during transit. In addition, they protect individuals responsible for making commercial bank deposits from theft or bodily injury. When the armored car arrives at the door of a business, an armed guard enters, signs for the money, and returns to the truck with the valuables in hand. Carrying money between the truck and the business can be extremely hazardous; because of this risk, armored car guards usually wear bulletproof vests.

All security officers must show good judgment and common sense, follow directions and directives from supervisors, testify accurately in court, and follow company policy and guidelines. Guards should have a professional appearance and attitude and be able to interact with the public. They also must be able to take charge and direct others in emergencies or other dangerous incidents. In a large organization, the security manager often is in charge of a trained guard force divided into shifts; in a small organization, a single worker may be responsible for all security.

Gaming surveillance officers, also known as surveillance agents, and gaming investigators act as security agents for casino managers and patrons. Using primarily audio and video equipment in an observation room, they observe casino operations for irregular activities, such as cheating or theft, by either employees or patrons. They keep recordings that are sometimes used as evidence against alleged criminals in police investigations. Some casinos use a catwalk over one-way mirrors located above the casino floor to augment electronic surveillance equipment. Surveillance agents occasionally leave the surveillance room and walk the casino floor.

Working Conditions    

Most security guards and gaming surveillance officers spend considerable time on their feet, either assigned to a specific post or patrolling buildings and grounds. Guards may be stationed at a guard desk inside a building to monitor electronic security and surveillance devices or to check the credentials of persons entering or leaving the premises. They also may be stationed at a guardhouse outside the entrance to a gated facility or community and may use a portable radio or cellular telephone that allows them to be in constant contact with a central station. The work usually is routine, but guards must be constantly alert for threats to themselves and the property they are protecting. Guards who work during the day may have a great deal of contact with other employees and members of the public. Gaming surveillance often takes place behind a bank of monitors controlling several cameras in a casino and thus can cause eyestrain.

Guards usually work at least 8-hour shifts for 40 hours per week and often are on call in case an emergency arises. Some employers have three shifts, and guards rotate to divide daytime, weekend, and holiday work equally. Guards usually eat on the job instead of taking a regular break away from the site. In 2004, 16% of guards worked part time, and many individuals held a second job as a guard to supplement their primary earnings.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Most States require that guards be licensed. To be licensed as a guard, individuals must usually be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, and complete classroom training in such subjects as property rights, emergency procedures, and detention of suspected criminals. Drug testing often is required and may be random and ongoing.

Many employers of unarmed guards do not have any specific educational requirements. For armed guards, employers usually prefer individuals who are high school graduates or who hold an equivalent certification. Many jobs require a drivers license. For positions as armed guards, employers often seek people who have had responsible experience in other occupations.

Guards who carry weapons must be licensed by the appropriate government authority, and some receive further certification as special police officers, allowing them to make limited types of arrests while on duty. Armed guard positions have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than those of unarmed guards because of greater insurance liability risks. Compared with unarmed security guards, armed guards and special police typically enjoy higher earnings and benefits, greater job security, and more potential for advancement. Usually, they also are given more training and responsibility.

Rigorous hiring and screening programs consisting of background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks are becoming the norm in the occupation. Applicants are expected to have good character references, no serious police record, and good health. They should be mentally alert, emotionally stable, and physically fit to cope with emergencies. Guards who have frequent contact with the public should communicate well.

The amount of training guards receive varies. Training requirements are higher for armed guards because their employers are legally responsible for any use of force. Armed guards receive formal training in areas such as weapons retention and laws covering the use of force.

Many employers give newly hired guards instruction before they start the job and provide on-the-job training. An increasing number of States are making ongoing training a legal requirement for retention of certification. Guards may receive training in protection, public relations, report writing, crisis deterrence, and first aid, as well as specialized training relevant to their particular assignment.

The American Society for Industrial Security International has written voluntary training guidelines that are intended to provide regulating bodies consistent minimum standards for the quality of security services. These guidelines recommend that security guards receive at least 48 hours of training within the first 100 days of employment. The guidelines also suggest that security guards be required to pass a written or performance examination covering topics such as sharing information with law enforcement, crime prevention, handling evidence, the use of force, court testimony, report writing, interpersonal and communication skills, and emergency response procedures. In addition, they recommend annual training and additional firearms training for armed officers.

Guards who are employed at establishments placing a heavy emphasis on security usually receive extensive formal training. For example, guards at nuclear power plants undergo several months of training before being placed on duty and even then, they perform their tasks only under close supervision. They are taught to use firearms, administer first aid, operate alarm systems and electronic security equipment, and spot and deal with security problems. Guards who are authorized to carry firearms may be periodically tested in their use.

Because many people do not stay long in this occupation, opportunities for advancement are good for those who are career security officers. Most large organizations use a military type of ranking that offers the possibility of advancement in both position and salary. Some guards may advance to supervisor or security manager positions. Guards with management skills may open their own contract security guard agencies. Pay rates vary substantially with the security level of the establishment, so there is also the opportunity to move to higher paying jobs with increased experience and training.

In addition to possessing the keen observation skills required to perform their jobs, gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators must have excellent verbal and writing abilities to document violations or suspicious behavior. They also need to be physically fit and have quick reflexes, because they sometimes must detain individuals until local law enforcement officials arrive.

Gaming surveillance officers and investigators usually need some training beyond high school, but not a bachelors degree; previous security experience is a plus. Several educational institutes offer certification programs. Training classes usually are conducted in a casino-like atmosphere and use surveillance camera equipment. Employers prefer either individuals with significant knowledge of casino operations through work experience or those with experience conducting investigations, such as former law enforcement officers.


Security guards and gaming surveillance officers held over 1.0 million jobs in 2004. Over half of all jobs for security guards were in investigation and security services, including guard and armored car services. These organizations provide security on a contract basis, assigning their guards to buildings and other sites as needed. Most other security officers were employed directly by educational services, hospitals, food services and drinking places, traveler accommodation (hotels), department stores, manufacturing firms, lessors of real estate (residential and nonresidential buildings), and governments. Guard jobs are found throughout the country, most commonly in metropolitan areas. Gaming surveillance officers worked primarily in gambling industries; traveler accommodation, which includes casino hotels; and local government. Gaming surveillance officers were employed only in those States and on those Indian reservations where gambling has been legalized.

A significant number of law enforcement officers work as security guards when they are off duty, in order to supplement their incomes. Often working in uniform and with the official cars assigned to them, they add a high-profile security presence to the establishment with which they have contracted. At construction sites and apartment complexes, for example, their presence often deters crime. (Police and detectives are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.)

Job Outlook

Opportunities for security guards and gaming surveillance officers should be favorable. Numerous job openings will stem from employment growth attributable to the demand for increased security and from the need to replace those who leave this large occupation each year. In addition to full-time job opportunities, the limited training requirements and flexible hours attract many persons seeking part-time or second jobs. However, competition is expected for higher paying positions that require longer periods of training; these positions usually are found at facilities that require a high level of security, such as nuclear power plants or weapons installations.

Employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014 as concern about crime, vandalism, and terrorism continues to increase the need for security. Demand for guards also will grow as private security firms increasingly perform duties such as providing security at public events and in residential neighborhoods that were formerly handled by police officers. Casinos will continue to hire more surveillance officers as more States legalize gambling and as the number of casinos increases in States where gambling is already legal. In addition, casino security forces will employ more technically trained personnel as technology becomes increasingly important in thwarting casino cheating and theft.


Median annual earnings of security guards were $20,320 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $16,640 and $25,510. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $14,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33,270. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of security guards in May 2004 were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools $25,030
General medical and surgical hospitals 24,750
Local government 23,690
Traveler accommodation 21,710
Investigation and security services 19,030

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators had median annual earnings of $25,840 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $20,430 and $33,790. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $42,420.

Related Occupations

Guards protect property, maintain security, and enforce regulations and standards of conduct in the establishments at which they work. Related security and protective service occupations include correctional officers, police and detectives, and private detectives and investigators.

Sources of Additional Information

Further information about work opportunities for guards is available from local security and guard firms and State employment service offices. Information about licensing requirements for guards may be obtained from the State licensing commission or the State police department. In States where local jurisdictions establish licensing requirements, contact a local government authority such as the sheriff, county executive, or city manager.

 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Security Guards and Gaming , on the Internet at (visited April 06, 2006).

One reader of Security Officer's Manual said, I would immediately recommend this book to anyone interested in or has to train new security persons. Although it may not cover hostage situations, terrorist attacks, etc., it does well, what any book can do: Cover the basics! No security company that survives can rely on text or videos to fully train their personnel. But Mr. Clede's book does cover those basics with detail. One of my favorite features of the book is the legal research and inclusion of court rulings. These are very important for the officer to understand what rights are granted, why and by whom. I myself use this book to augment training within my security curriculum. Although Mr.Clede may be a freelance writer, he has many competent contributors listed within the cover. To Mr. Clede, you have done well where others of lagged.


According to the book description of Effective Report Writing for the Security Officer, Concise, well-written security reports are the mark of a top notch security organization. As this practical book points out, good report writing skills are key to professional development. These skills require no special talent and are easy enough for anyone to pick up. Officers, managers, and administrators alike can benefit from the simple `how-to' guidelines and easy-to-follow samples offered here. Contains a complete introduction to event reports, and includes sample reports for fire, theft, and injury.  Easy to follow format and helpful examples and exercises.  Uses practical tips for improving writing skills, including lists of commonly


According to the book description of SOLO it answers the questions: How do I protect my client alone? How would I handle a multiple attack situation? How would I manage my client during an attack? These and many more questions are answered in this unique book on single agent protection. When its just you, your client and the bad guy(s), seconds count! The question: Will you know what to do? SOLO takes you through all aspects of one-on-one protection, when its just you and your client. This book will explain the special dynamics involved in single agent protection and why you must be prepared to handle this type of protection detail. In addition, it details the Proper Mindset.


According to the book description of Security Officers And Policing: Powers, Culture And Control in the Governance of Private Space, This volume examines how and to what extent security officers make use of legal tools. The work identifies these tools and draws on two case-study sites to illustrate how security officers make use of them as well as how they fit in broader security systems to secure compliance. The study also examines the occupational culture of security officers and links them into the broader systems of security that operate to police nodes of governance. The book provides insights for researchers and policy-makers seeking to develop policy for the expanding private security industry.


According to the book description of The Role of the Security Officer it is an excellent choice for individuals, private consultants or college instructors searching for an appropriate student textbook that covers the fundamentals of basic security guard training. It is written in a lively and creative style that quickly grabs and holds the attention of the reader while covering the full range of fundamentals of the armed and unarmed security guard profession. The book was written to cover requirements of Washington State Armed and Unarmed Guard licensing training requirements but it meets or exceeds training needs in other states as well.  Topics covered include: Crime & Loss Prevention, Security Guards & the Criminal Justice System, Legal Powers & Limitations, Security Observation & Awareness, EEO, Diversity, Workplace Violence, Homeland Security, Safeguarding & Sharing Information, Terrorism & Surveillance, Patrol Procedures, Access Control, Emergency Response, OSHA Life Safety & Accident Prevention, Communication, Report Writing, Armed Guard Firearms Safety & Training, Use of Deadly Force, Marksmanship, Defensive Driving, Armored Truck Security, Diplomatic Security & Blending In, Handcuffs & Handcuffing.


There are summaries & quiz questions at the end of each chapter and a final exam that covers the entire book. A power point CD version of the book is available to assist instructors by contacting the author via his website.  Michael Jaquish has nearly thirty years of management and training experience in for the domestic and international law enforcement and private security guard fields.

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