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What’s It Like to Be a Security Officer?

The security industry job market demands people who exemplify responsibility and have the ability to maintain peace in various public spheres. Security guards, one of the better-known and widely available security positions, must, for example, spend a great deal of time cultivating an active presence on the premises of which the guard stands employed. The desired effect, and the guard’s general duty, remains to eliminate crime and the transgression of rules, protect people and property, respond to emergency situations, and provide civilians with a sounding board for observed suspicious behavior. Due to the nature of security jobs, guards often receive employment at institutions such as hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, venues that regularly host spectator sports, and bars or other public establishments where people may go to consume alcohol.

Responsibilities – One of the most accessible jobs in the security field, security officers must regard concern for civilian safety as a top priority. Often stationed in casinos, museums, retail stores, banks, hospitals, and large gatherings like sporting events, security officers must observe crowds to prevent theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity. Individuals filling security officer positions usually work in eight hour shifts and on rotating schedules to ensure the premises receive protection at all times. Various responsibilities ascribed to the position include enforcing property laws, monitoring alarms and security footage for suspicious activity, controlling access points to buildings and grounds, writing post-shift reports, interviewing witnesses for court testimony, and detaining any perpetrators of illegal activity. Additionally, security personnel may need to carry a weapon to perform job duties and responsible use persists as a necessity.

Requirements / Qualifications – While most security officer jobs stand accessible to individuals with a high school diploma or the equivalent, some positions require the possession of a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice or similar fields. Knowledge of the industry usually does not affect the probability of an individual obtaining work as a security guard since many security firms offer weapons training, pre-assignment preparation, on-the-job practice, and continual training for officers. Most security guards must register with the state in which the guards receive employment. Additional weapons registration may prove a necessity, as well. Individuals wishing to fill officer positions must pass background and drug tests. Furthermore, job candidates should maintain a certain degree of physical fitness, feel comfortable regularly interacting with people in a customer service capacity, and possess a strong attention to detail.

Salary Expectations – Factors such as education and years of experience may affect the salary of an officer. On average, security guards earn hourly wages of $11.00 to $12.00. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, security guards at the top of the field in 2012 earned an average pay of $42,500 a year. For the same year, the median annual salary package for security officers stood around $24,000.

Job Outlook – As cited by the BLS, security guards made up about 11 million jobs available in the year 2012. Born of the need for people to feel safe and have property protected, the security industry continues to prosper. Through the next decade, the BLS projects a 12-percent growth in security officer positions, which aligns with the average rate of growth for most occupations. Many positions continue to open within the field, though higher paying work may inspire heightened competition.

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