How to Become a Security Guard
Secure your job success by following Monster’s guide to security jobs.
Who doesn't want to feel secure at work, when shopping, or while visiting a hospital? Having personnel who ensure the safety of people and property is essential in many establishments, including banks, parking garages, residential buildings, and medical facilities. With so many businesses, agencies, and properties in need of security, it might be worth learning how to become a security guard.
There are several different types of security guards, many of which require different credentials. These include:
- Armored car guards
- Bank security guards
- Armed and unarmed security guards
- Airport security
- Cruise ship security
- Transit officers
Knowing what to expect when pursuing a career in security can be confusing. Some security guard positions require minimal qualifications, while others require a certain amount of training and licensure. Don't worry—Monster has your back. Want to find out how to become a security guard? Read on to find out what key steps you'll need to take to get hired as a security guard.
What Does a Security Guard Do?
Security guards are responsible for protecting people and property from injury, theft, vandalism, and other crimes. They work for a wide range of agencies and institutions, including government agencies, security companies, hospitals, casinos, college campuses, parking lots and garages, financial institutions, and sports arenas. Some security guards work in stationary locations while others are mobile. Work hours may be full time or include rotating or overnight shifts.
The typical duties of security guards include:
- Patrolling property on foot or by car and conducting periodic security checks.
- Enforcing rules established by property owners.
- Monitoring video-surveillance systems and alarms.
- Responding to emergencies, diffusing potentially dangerous situation, and deterring criminal activity.
- Regulating employee and visitor access to buildings.
- Creating reports of activity they observe on the job.
- Contacting police, fire departments, or ambulance services during emergencies.
Find out more about what a security guard job entails by reading Monster's security officer job description sample.
How to Become a Security Guard
Many security guard jobs require a high school diploma or GED, along with on-the-job training. Some security guards can enter a job with no experience, but casino security officers typically need some prior experience monitoring video-surveillance systems or working in a casino.
The skills and qualities you'll need to be a security guard include:
- The ability to communicate effectively, especially in stressful situations.
- Good interpersonal skills and the ability to deescalate tense situations.
- Keen observation skills and attention to detail.
- The ability to solve problems and make the best decisions during emergency situations.
- Physical strength, stamina, and the ability to defend oneself in the event of a physical confrontation.
Security Guard Training
The duration of on-the-job training may vary depending on the type of security guard job you apply for. For example, you may need several months of training before getting hired as a gambling surveillance officer. On the other hand, some security guards only need a few weeks of training. Several states suggest roughly eight hours of pre-assignment training, about 8 to 16 hours of training on the job, and eight hours of annual training.
The training you'll receive from an employer might include emergency procedures, communication, first aid, report writing, and crime prevention tactics. Armed guards must undergo more rigorous training, be licensed to carry a firearm, and periodically undergo firearms testing. You can also take security guard training courses from a number of security schools—some of which offer online courses.
Security Guard Licensure
Depending on which state you're in, you may need to obtain a security guard license, especially if your job requires you to carry a firearm. To become licensed in your state, you must be at least 18 years old, complete the required training, and pass a background check. Some states require you to be at least 21 to work casino security.
Make sure you take the time to learn about your state's licensing requirements before applying.
How Much Do Security Guards Make?
Security officers in the United States typically earn $13.74 per hour, but security guard pay can range from $11.65 to $19.21 per hour. The amount of money you can expect to make depends on your experience, location, and job type.
You can look up the median salary for security guards in your area using Monster's Salary Tools.
How to Find Security Guard Jobs
Now that you've read our guide on how to become a security guard, let's focus on finding your first job as a security guard. Before you apply, take the time to update your security guard resume so employers can easily read your skills and qualifications. In case a potential employer calls for back-up, you may also want to write a security guard cover letter that briefly explains your skills, credentials, and enthusiasm for the job. Some companies require both parts of your application before they'll consider you for an interview.
Ready to apply for security guard jobs on Monster? Consider looking for open positions in these states, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, have the highest rate of security guard employment:
Want to move to a specific city? The top five U.S. cities with the most security guards are:
Secure Your Career's Success With Monster
Learning how to become a security guard can take some time and effort, but muscling through is worth it. If you're qualified to work as a security guard, upload your resume and start your job search at Monster. Think of us as the guards of your job security—we make it easy for top recruiters and employers to find your resume and send you the newest security guard jobs as soon they're posted.