Private security professionals most often work for private security firms. Banks, corporations, schools, gated neighborhood communities, department stores, hotels, casinos and other establishments contract with the private security firms to provide experienced guards. Private security officers guard against theft, monitor security cameras, patrol inside and outside buildings, and protect the safety of employees, customers and residents, among other duties.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job opportunities for security guards are expected to grow faster than other professions through 2018. These private security job prospects are driven by an increased focus on preventing crime, vandalism and terrorism. Demand for contract guard service is also expected to rise as private security firms are hired to provide security services that were formerly handled by local police officers.
A private security guard’s workday generally consists of an eight-hour shift. Depending on their assignment, officers may spend their days on their feet – standing guard or patrolling the grounds – or sitting at a desk, monitoring electronic security equipment and surveillance cameras. Private security officers on day-shift duties may have considerable contact with the public, checking identification, issuing security badges, and inspecting bags and packages. Those who work the night shift can count on the cleaning crew as company – although their presence as guards is just as valuable as those who work daytime hours. Many private security guards work part-time to supplement earnings from another job.
Private security officers earned an average income of $26,430 a year, according to BLS studies from May 2009. Salaries ranged from a low of $16,840 to high of $40,230, with the middle 50% earning between $19,460 and $30,580. Security guards with some formal training or education, such as an associate’s degree in criminal justice, may have better job opportunities and be eligible for more competitive, higher-paying positions.
Most private security professionals hold a minimum of a high school degree. Many agencies would like their employees to have some college education, such as an associate’s degree.
The first step for those looking to establish a career in crime prevention or private security can be an associate’s degree in criminal justice.
Completion of a criminal justice education program proves that a prospective hire is able to:
If you have a strong desire to deter crime and protect others, and possess effective communication skills, a sense of responsibility and the ability to work as part of a team, then a job as a private security professional may be the career for you.