Everything About A Security Guard Career
You consider becoming a security guard but need additional information before making your final career choice?
Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about being a security guard in the following chapters.
Not only will you learn how much money security guards can make, but we will also talk a lot about job prospects, future outlook, job satisfaction, work-life balance, educational requirements, duties, responsibilities and much more.
At the end of this article, you will also find an FAQ section where I answer the most common questions about working as a security guard for you.
After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of what being a security guard really looks like and whether you still want to pursue such a career or rather want to work in a different job instead.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
What does a Security Guard do?
Security guards protect public and private places to deter burglars and other unwanted people from those properties.
They also assure overall safety and make sure that people can spend their time in the best possible manner without having to care about security issues and other unpleasant surprises.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Security Guard
- Protecting private properties
- Protecting public places
- Preventing theft and burglary
- Making sure that people can spend their time in a safe manner
- Permitting and rejecting entry
- Installation of alarm systems
- Reporting incidents to their clients
- Monitoring and maintaining surveillance equipment
- Patrolling to deter unwanted people
- Collaborating with local police officers
What a Typical Day of a Security Guard looks like?
After getting to their workplace, the first thing security guards do is getting basic instructions from their boss so that they know what property they are responsible for that day.
After doing some organizational work, security guards prepare their equipment and drive to the respective property.
Not only will security guards show presence so that burglars and other unwanted people are deterred, but they also make sure that safety requirements are met and do everything that people using those properties can do so in the safest possible manner.
Security guards not only have to be good at spotting unlawful behavior, but they also need great people skills to de-escalate conflicts before they can turn out into a real mess.
Thus, you should also have empathy for people so that you can calm them down to avoid any further escalation that might lead to lots of trouble and you should therefore be good at dealing with people in general.
Security Guard Salary 2023
Security Guard salary brackets 2023
|Salary (per year)
|Salary (per hour)
|Top 10 %
|Top 25 %
|$47,000 – $52,000
|$23.42 – $25.89
|Bottom 25 %
|$29,000 – $32,000
|$14.47 – $15.98
|Bottom 10 %
|$21,000 – $24,000
|$10.41 – $11.93
|$21,000 – $64,000
|$10.41 – $31.95
Security Guard salary 2023 by expert level
|Level of Experience
|Salary (per year)
|Salary (per hour)
|$21,000 – $28,000
|$10.41 – $13.93
|$27,000 – $34,000
|$13.44 – $16.89
|$32,000 – $39,000
|$15.92 – $19.47
|$37,000 – $46,000
|$18.46 – $22.94
|$44,000 – $57,000
|$21.97 – $28.39
|$56,000 – $64,000
|$27.95 – $31.96
Security Guard salary by state 2023 (average)
|Salary (per year)
|Salary (per hour)
|District of Columbia
Job Security of Security Guards
Security guards have pretty low job security since educational barriers to work in this field are pretty low and almost everyone can work as a security guard without having to get fancy education.
Consequently, you will be replaceable pretty easily and may always have to fear losing your job.
Future Outlook of Security Guards
Not only do watchmen have pretty poor job prospects right now, but also the future outlook for security guards is pretty poor since many jobs will be lost in this industry due to the invention of robots and other security machines that will make human security guards obsolete sooner or later.
Working Hours of Security Guards
If you work day shifts as a security guard, you will usually start your workday between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish your workday between 4 and 6 p.m.
However, if you work night shifts, you will start your workday between 6 and 8 p.m. and finish your workday between 3 and 5 a.m. in the morning.
Your working hours will also greatly depend on the industry you work in and you should therefore be willing to work rather exotic hours and should also be quite flexible regarding your schedule before you decide on becoming a watchman.
Job Satisfaction of Security Guards
Most security guards are not happy with what they are doing for a living since they make pretty poor money while they also work in a relatively unsafe environment and also have to fear losing their jobs on a regular basis.
Consequently, many security guards think about changing their jobs and working in a different field.
Promotion Opportunities of Security Guards
Promotion opportunities for security guards are almost non-existent.
While you might get some personnel responsibilities after many years or even decades, you will still do the same things over and over again and while many of your friends will climb the corporate ladder, you as a security guard will get stuck in your position and may get really frustrated in the long run.
Career Levels of Security Guards
- Security guard intern
- Security guard apprentice
- Junior security guard
- Senior security guard
- Senior security guard with personnel responsibilities
- Manager of a security guard firm
- Owner of a security company
Fields and Types of Security Guards
- Security guards protecting private buildings
- Security guards protecting public places
- Security guards specialized in avoiding theft
- Security guards focused on preventing personal damage
- Security guards specialized in securing shopping malls
- Security guards protecting schools
- Security guards with expertise in the use of latest security technologies
- Security guards focused on educating people on how to make their lives safer
- Security guards collaborating with the police
Educational Requirements for Security Guards
You don’t need to get fancy education for becoming a security guard.
In fact, educational barriers to entry are pretty low and you therefore don’t have to get a degree but can start your security guard career right after finishing high school without having to spend lots of time and money on college as many other people have to do.
How to become a Security Guard
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a security guard
- Apply for an internship at a local security firm
- Make a good impression during your internship
- Stay in touch with your colleagues
- Get your high school diploma with decent grades
- Apply for jobs as a security guard
- Master the job interview
- Sign your labor contract
- Get experience in the security business
- Start your own security firm
Character Traits you need as a Security Guard
- You should be brave
- You should not get intimidated easily
- Ability to de-escalate conflicts
- You should be a good listener
- Empathy for people who have a bad day
- You should be open to critical feedback
- Patience for people who try to bring you down
- Persistence helps you stay in the security business in the long run
- You should be friendly but yet determinate
- Ability to deal with snarky comments in a healthy manner
- Willingness to work in a low-wage environment
Security Guard Skills
Hard Skills for Security Guards
- Excellent knowledge of common safety procedures
- Knowledge of how to de-escalate conflicts
- Ability to calm people down
- You should understand human nature
- You should know how to prevent theft
- Knowledge of how to protect properties
- You should be in good physical condition
- Good monitoring abilities
- You should be a good observer
- Technical knowledge of security systems and equipment
- Good problem-solving skills
Soft Skills for Security Guards
- You should be good at spotting potential sources of conflict
- Ability to get into the minds of people
- You should have a talent for forecasting potential sources of trouble
- You should be patient so that you can deal with snarky comments in a healthy manner
- Creativity helps you find solutions to difficult problems
- You should be flexible to deal with new and unknown situations in a proper manner
- Ability to deal with difficult people in an emotionally healthy manner
- Empathy for people who just have a bad day
- You should be able to put things into perspective
Exit Options for Security Guards
While security guards are often able to work as bodyguards or private investigators, they have a hard time finding a job outside the security field since they often lack the skills necessary to do so.
Security Guard – Similar Careers
- Police officer
- Private investigator
- Correctional officer
- Security consultant
- Armed guard
- Gambling monitor
Security Guard Career FAQs
Is working as a security guard physically demanding?
While you will not have to work with your hands in a hard physical manner for the majority of your workday, being a security guard can still be physically demanding from time to time since you will sometimes have to resolve conflicts and some people may also try to attack you in a physical manner.
Consequently, you might get some exercise at work and might even have to defend yourself sooner or later.
Is working as a security guard mentally demanding?
Being a security guard is not heavily mentally demanding.
Although you have to use your brain to keep the location you are responsible for as safe as possible, you will still develop a certain routine pretty soon and will not have to stress your brain as much as financial controllers or engineers who have to work with complex models all day long.
Is it dangerous to work as a security guard?
Working as a security guard can be risky since you will often be the last line of defense and thieves and other people will often be willing to attack you in a physical manner if necessary.
Thus, you should have good knowledge of self-defense and how to use it to your advantage to minimize the risk of getting involved in serious incidents at work.
How long do security guards stay in their jobs?
Since security guards often have pretty low levels of education and also don’t learn many skills needed in different fields in the job market, they often get trapped in the security industry and will therefore stay in this field for many years or even decades, even though many of them secretly wish to work in a different field.
Is it easy for security guards to find a new job?
Since many jobs in the security industry will be lost to intelligent machines in the near future, security guards will have a hard time finding a new job and may end up unemployed sooner or later.
Is it hard to switch from being a security guard to another field of work?
Since security guards don’t learn many hard skills needed in different industries, they have a pretty hard time finding a job in a different field since most companies outside the security industry would simply not be willing to employ them.
Do security guards have a high social status?
Security guards have a pretty low social standing.
Even though they are important to assure overall security, they are also often belittled by the general public and if you want to be admired by many people, becoming a nurse practitioner or judge would be much better in this regard.
Can you help out your family and friends as a security guard?
While you can assure overall safety at the location you work at, you will not be able to provide as much value to your loved ones as carpenters, roofers or other craftsmen who are able to fix, install and maintain many things around the home.
Can security guards work remotely?
Security guards are not able to work remotely since they have to show up at their workplace in person to minimize the risk of serious incidents at the location they are responsible for.
Thus, you will be far less flexible to manage your private and professional life at the same time compared to people like accountants who are able to work from home quite often.
Is it easy to find a partner as a security guard?
Security guards have a pretty hard time when it comes to finding a partner for a long-term relationship since they are not able to make good money, have a rather low social standing and also have to fear losing their jobs quite often.
In turn, security guards are not considered good providers and will have a much harder time in the dating market compared to dentists or other people who have much safer jobs and also make much more money.
Do security guards have to work on weekends?
Security guards sometimes have to work on weekends and if you are not willing to work during Saturdays or even Sundays, you will be better off going for a career where you have a standard workweek.
Do security guards have to work on holidays?
You may also have to work on holidays as a security guard, especially if you work in the event industry where many big events take place during those days.
Thus, while many other people are able to enjoy those holidays with their loved ones, you as a security guard may have to work and this may become really annoying in the long run.
Do security guards have to work at nighttime?
Security guards have to work at nighttime on a regular basis.
In fact, you will often switch between day shifts and night shifts and you should therefore be quite flexible regarding your schedule to stay happy with what you are doing in the long run.
Do you have to travel as a security guard?
Apart from commuting to your working location, you will not have to travel at all as a security guard and can spend your leisure at home with your family while consultants and many other people who work in demanding jobs in the corporate world will be away for business trips quite often.
Are security guard pensions good?
Due to their low salaries, security guards are often not able to save and invest enough money and this will translate into pretty poor pensions.
Thus, once security guards retire, many of them will have serious trouble paying their bills and may even lose their homes since they may no longer be able to pay rent.
Are security guard salaries going up?
Salaries for security guards have not been going up significantly over the past years.
This is due to the fact that the demand for security guards has decreased and this trend will also continue in the future since many jobs in this industry will be lost since humans will be replaced by intelligent machines.
Hence, also wages will likely not increase significantly in the security industry anytime soon.
Can you have a positive impact on society as a security guard?
While you will do an important job to assure the safety of many people, you will still not have the same high positive social impact as teachers or professors who have the power to change the minds of many people on a daily basis.
How long does it take to become a security guard?
Since you don’t need any fancy formal education, you can become a security guard right after finishing high school within a few months.
In some cases, you don’t even need a high school diploma to start your career as a security guard and you can therefore start making money pretty soon.
Is it difficult to become a security guard?
Becoming a security guard is not difficult at all since you don’t have to meet high formal educational requirements and almost everyone can start working in this field.
Do you need to be smart to work as a security guard?
You don’t need a high IQ for succeeding as a security guard.
What’s much more important is that you have lots of emotional intelligence so that you can resolve conflicts and de-escalate situations before they get out of control.
Do security guards have a good work-life balance?
Security guards have pretty poor work-life balance since they often have to work during weekends and holidays and also have to work at nighttime.
Thus, security guards will have to work rather exotic hours and may not have enough time to spend with their families.
Do security guards have to work many extra hours?
Security guards don’t have to work many extra hours but rather have a rigid schedule.
Hence, after their shift is over, security guards just finish their workday and other security guards will take over.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a security guard?
The more experience you have in the security industry, the more value you can provide to security companies and the easier it will be for you to find a job in this field.
Thus, to maximize your chances of becoming a security guard, you should start working as an intern in this industry at a rather early age.
Can security guards work part-time?
While security guards might be able to work part-time in theory, most security guards still work full-time since their hourly wages are pretty low and a part-time job would just not be enough to make a living.
Do security guards work indoors or outdoors?
Security guards work indoors as well as outdoors.
Hence, you should not be afraid of working outdoors during times of bad weather.
Otherwise, you should not become a security guard but rather work as a compliance officer or go for another office job where you can work indoors all day long.
What does the workplace of a security guard look like?
Security guards work in all sorts of public and private locations and you will therefore be surrounded by many people all day long.
Thus, you should be friendly and also have great people skills so that you can de-escalate conflicts before they even get the chance to get out of control.
Do you have to look good for working as a security guard?
Your looks don’t matter for your success as a security guard.
What’s much more important is that you have great people skills and that you also understand human nature so that you can calm down people and minimize the risk of serious conflicts in the best possible manner.
Is a security guard career beneficial for your private life?
Working as a security guard is not beneficial for your private life since you will work in a pretty risky environment and you will also not be able to make good money and also have to worry about losing your job on a daily basis.
Moreover, you will also have to work rather exotic hours and may not have enough time to spend with your family.
Consequently, you may get home in a pretty bad mood on a regular basis and your partner may start cheating on you sooner or later to find a better deal.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a security guard?
You don’t need a college degree for working as a security guard.
In fact, you don’t need any fancy education to work in this field and while many of your friends will have to spend many years and lots of money on college education, you can become a security guard without having to worry about those issues.
Do you need to be certified to work as a security guard?
While you don’t need to be certified to work as a security guard, it can still help to get those certifications to stand out from the crowd and to improve your chances of finding a job in the security industry.
How much does it cost to become a security guard?
Since you don’t have to spend many years in college but can become a security guard right after finishing school, you don’t have to spend lots of money on education but can become a security guard at virtually no cost and can even start making money from a rather early age.
Is being a security guard a good career?
Since you will often have to work during weekends and holidays and are also not able to make good money while you will work in a rather risky environment, being a security guard cannot be considered a good career.
Is it easy to start your own business as a security guard?
While you will have to meet some regulatory requirements, you can still start your own security business at rather low costs and don’t need lots of fancy education to do so.
Thus, it will be easier to work self-employed in the security business than in many other fields.
Can security guards teach themselves?
Security guards are able to teach themselves many things they need on a daily basis.
If you aspire to a career as a security guard, you should also teach yourself basic self-defense skills so that you are prepared in case of emergency.
Do security guards make good money?
Security guards make pretty poor money on average and even the best security guards are barely able to make a living from what they are doing.
Thus, if you want to make really good money, you should not become a security guard but rather work as an investment banker instead.
Is it ever too late to become a security guard?
Since you don’t need to spend many years on education, you can become a security guard at almost any age as long as you are physically fit and also have good people skills to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner.
Do security guards have to quit their careers early?
Since security guards have to work in a physical manner from time to time and also have to be pretty fit, some of them have to quit their careers early once they get older since they are no longer able to do this job in a safe manner.
What is the hardest thing about working as a security guard?
The hardest part about being a security guard is that you will have to deal with lots of adversity and you will also often be the scapegoat for people who just have a bad day and want to release some pressure.
Thus, you will have to deal with many snarky comments and may even get physically attacked if you are unlucky.
In case this happens, you may just not feel well when you get back to work since you will often worry about it happening again.
Can you provide for your family by working as a security guard?
Due to the rather poor money you will make as a security guard, you will also have a pretty hard time providing for your family. Hence, your partner may have to work as well and may not have time to look after the kids.
Will security guards suffer from old-age poverty?
Due to the poor money security guards make during their active careers, also their pensions will be pretty low and many security guards therefore suffer from serious old-age poverty and are no longer able to pay their bills once they retire.
Can security guards retire early?
Most security guards are not able to retire early since they just don’t make and can’t save enough money during their active careers.
Consequently, they have to work until they reach official retirement age and sometimes even longer to be able to pay their bills.
Do security guards get a fixed or variable salary?
Security guards mainly get a fixed salary.
Thus, your performance at work will not greatly matter for the money you can make from your security guard career, even though good work may help you keep your job.
Can you get rich as a security guard?
It is impossible to get rich as an employed security guard.
Hence, if money and luxury are really important to you, you should either start your own security firm or work as a doctor instead.
Do security guards need a second job?
Many security guards also need to work a second job since they are just not able to make enough money from their day jobs and have to make additional money on the side.
Do you get continuous training as a security guard?
Most security guards don’t get continuous training but rather have to hone their craft themselves to develop their skills further and to stay successful in this field in the long run.
Do you get sick pay as a security guard?
Most security guards don’t get paid while they are sick.
If you don’t show up at work, you will just not get any money and you should therefore build an emergency fund during good times that you can use during times you get sick to pay your bills.
Do security guards have a high level of responsibility?
Security guards have a high level of responsibility since mistakes on their side could lead to lots of personal damage and also lots of financial damage for their clients.
Thus, you always need to stay focused at work to avoid those mistakes.
Can security guards work abroad?
Security guards are able to work all over the world.
However, you should still have excellent knowledge of the local language of the country you plan to migrate to and you should also inform yourself about working conditions and salaries that might be quite different from what you are used to at home.
Is it stressful to work as a security guard?
Working as a security guard is pretty relaxed most of the time.
Even though you will have to resolve conflicts from time to time, those occasions will be pretty limited and your presence will often be enough to avoid unlawful behavior.
Is it boring to work as a security guard?
Being a security guard is not boring since you will have to deal with new situations on a regular basis and you also need to improve your people skills so that you can spend your workday in the most convenient manner and don’t get into trouble.
Is being a security guard hard?
Working as a security guard is not that hard.
Although you have to resolve conflicts from time to time, you will have a rather relaxed workday most of the time.
Are security guards at risk of burnout?
Since you will have lots of time to rest at work, you are able to spend your workday in a rather relaxed manner and will not have to deal with burnout or other mental problems related to your job most often.
Is there a dress code for security guards?
You will often wear a uniform as a security guard so that people recognize you as an authority and comply with your commands and instructions.
What kind of security guards are paid the most?
The more experience you have in the security industry, the more money you can make from your job.
However, even the most experienced security guards don’t make really good money and if money is really important to you, you should not become a security guard but rather go for a demanding office job instead.
What percentage of security guards are women?
While 28% of all security guards are women, 72% are men.
Thus, this industry is still dominated by men and this will likely also be the case in the future since more men than women are attracted to this kind of job.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a security guard?
You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a security guard.
However, it can still help having an experienced colleague on your side who can show you secret tips and tricks on how to make your workday better and what mistakes to avoid at the beginning of your career.
Do security guards have a high life expectancy?
Security guards have rather low life expectancy since they are at significant risk of suffering from serious incidents at work and may get attacked physically sooner or later.
Do security guards suffer from sleeping problems?
Since security guards often work at nighttime, they are not able to maintain a steady sleeping pattern and often suffer from serious sleeping problems related to their jobs.
What states are best for working as a security guard?
Since you will make pretty poor money across states as a security guard, you should choose a state and a region where living costs are low while the demand for security guards is still high enough to find a job.
Who do security guards work with?
Security guards work with many different people and it is therefore crucial that you are a patient and friendly person but also know how to handle conflicts in a proper manner.
Is working as a security guard cool?
Being a security guard is considered fairly cool by the general public.
However, you should still not care about what’s considered cool but should rather do what’s best for yourself when it comes to making your career choice.
Can you start a side hustle as a security guard?
Since security guards are pretty specialized and don’t learn many skills on the job, they also often have serious problems starting a side hustle.
Do you have to be creative as a security guard?
Being creative helps you as a security guard since the more creative you are, the easier it will be to calm down people and to de-escalate situations before they get out of control.
Do security guards suffer from being overweight?
Security guards often get sufficient exercise at work and therefore burn enough calories so that they are not at great risk of suffering from being overweight.
How employable are security guards?
Security guards are not that employable anymore since many jobs in this industry will be lost to intelligent machines in the near future and future job prospects are therefore pretty poor.
Are security guards happy with their jobs?
Most security guards are not happy with their jobs since they have to work exotic hours and also often have to work on weekends while they can still not make good money from what they are doing.
Is working as a security guard exciting?
Working as a security guard can be exciting since you will experience many new situations and you will have to use your emotional intelligence to navigate through those unfamiliar situations quite often.
Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a security guard?
Since security guards mainly care about keeping the properties they are responsible for safe, they don’t have a big positive impact on our environment.
What are the pros and cons of working as a security guard?
If you still consider becoming a security guard, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a security guard career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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