How to Become a Security Officer
Security Officer Careers & Degrees

A security officer works to protect a property, guard a person or asset, or keep order at an event.

If you are looking for a job with flexible hours and a lot of variety then you might like to become a security officer.

You’ll need to have an authoritarian disposition if you would like to be a security officer.

This is to say that people will need to respect and obey you.

Physical fitness and strength are also required for this role.

In many roles, you may face dangerous situations and need to be prepared for the risk of injury, or even death.

Security officers often work weekends or at night time.

This is when property is most at risk, particularly in industrial or commercial areas which are empty outside or business hours.

This attracts many people to work as a security officer as a second job, or a part-time job.

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Education Requirements to Become a Security Officer

The minimum educational requirement to become a security officer is a high school diploma.

Applicants also need to be eighteen years of age and pass background checks.

Most employers will also require regular drug tests of their officers.

On the job training is provided for all security guards.

Some of this may be in a classroom situation, as is required for licensing, but also occurs out on the field in the presence of another qualified officer.

Almost all states require that security officers be licensed.

While the requirements vary state to state, officers are usually required to have a clear criminal record and also complete some basic classroom training.

Further training and licensure is required for security officers who carry a firearm.

Also, those who work in gaming may need additional qualifications.

If you are interested in tertiary courses for security officers, then take a look at the ASIS International website.

Security Officer Job Description

The work of a security officer can be varied, they work within many different environments.

Often, they work towards different goals.

For instance, some security officers may be protecting a building, others a person.

Here are some of the different roles you could fill when you become a security officer.

Property Security – Security officers are often employed to guard a property.

This is often a place of business that could be suspect to break-in overnight.

Store Security – A security officer in a store works to protect staff and customers.

They also protect the store form robbery, and may work with detectives to catch thieves and shoplifters.

Gaming Surveillance Security – These security officers work in casinos and other gaming venues.

They look out for thieves, but also cheats.

Armored Car security – These guards protect the armored vehicles that transport large sums of money and other valuable goods from place to place.

Personal Security – Celebrities, politicians, and other figures often call on personal security officers to protect them.

Sometimes it is because they are threatened, for others it’s just a part of their life.

Event security – The security officers keep large events under control, and are on hand to assist in emergencies.

When a security guard is at work, they are always on the lookout for threats.

They recognize these threats and eliminate them.

In the event of a situation, they evacuate persons to safety.

Security Officer Salary and Career Path

When you become a security officer, it is likely that you will be employed part-time.

The full-time median wage for a security officer is $23,000 a year.

Gaming surveillance officers earn slightly more at $28,000 a year.

There is good opportunity for those seeking an entry level job in the security field.

Promotion, and a large number of people leaving the industry, mean that there is a quick turnaround.

Positions that require more experience are more difficult to gain.

Some jobs which are similar to that of security officer which you may be interested in include:

  • Gaming attendant
  • Correctional officer
  • Police officer
  • Private detective
  • Police detective
  • US Marshal
  • FBI Agent

If you are looking for a secure job that doesn’t require any formal higher education, then you might like to become a security officer.

It’s also an excellent role if you are looking for some part-time work out of regular hours.

There is also opportunity for promotion and development for those that are seeking a career in security or another related field.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$33,030
$21K
$24K
$33K
$37K
$50K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$28,260
Alaska$43,060
Arizona$29,980
Arkansas$29,590
California$33,640
Colorado$33,930
Connecticut$34,350
Delaware$30,330
District of Columbia$44,200
Florida$29,150
Georgia$28,090
Hawaii$34,670
Idaho$30,840
Illinois$33,800
Indiana$32,070
Iowa$32,750
Kansas$29,140
Kentucky$26,460
Louisiana$29,750
Maine$31,880
Maryland$36,920
Massachusetts$36,950
Michigan$29,050
Minnesota$36,010
Mississippi$26,090
Missouri$39,160
Montana$28,480
Nebraska$35,380
Nevada$33,050
New Hampshire$37,900
New Jersey$33,000
New Mexico$28,750
New York$37,510
North Carolina$33,780
North Dakota$35,690
Ohio$33,490
Oklahoma$32,220
Oregon$31,530
Pennsylvania$30,110
Rhode Island$30,700
South Carolina$32,620
South Dakota$30,230
Tennessee$29,280
Texas$30,740
Utah$35,940
Vermont$32,150
Virginia$38,000
Washington$41,030
West Virginia$27,550
Wisconsin$30,270
Wyoming$34,640
Guam$20,390
Puerto Rico$18,160
Virgin Islands$28,770

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $44,200.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $44,200
Alaska - $43,060
Washington - $41,030
Missouri - $39,160
Virginia - $38,000
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Security Guards, OCC Code 33-9032, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a Security Officer?

Security officers, also known as security guards, protect property from theft, vandalism, and other illegal activities.

Depending on the employer, security guards may also need to monitor alarms and CCTV cameras.

In some places, guards are also responsible for controlling building access.

As a security officer, you can work in a variety of places, including office buildings, stores or casino observation rooms.

People who act as security agents for casinos are called gaming surveillance officers.

Guards must be alert and ready to call for police, fire or ambulance, in case of emergencies.

Most states require security agents to be registered.

In order to be efficient in performing their job duties, security officers must have good communication and observation skills.

QuestionHow much does a Security Officer make?

According to the Bureau o Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for security officers was around $28,500 in May 2018.

The median wage for gaming surveillance officers was approximately $32,700.

However, the salary varies depending on the employer and the industry.

Security officers usually work in 8-hour shifts, including night schedules.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a Security Officer?

Most security officers need a high school diploma or equivalent, but some jobs may not have education requirements.

Those who work in casinos sometimes also need experience with security and video surveillance.

Most security officers receive instruction after being hired.

The training period usually lasts a few weeks.

Employers may also require drug tests periodically.

Security agents who carry a firearm require weapons training and usually must be registered with the state authority.

QuestionWhat is the demand for Security Officers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for security guards and gaming surveillance officers is expected to grow by 4% in the next 10 years.

Although the expected growth for this profession is close to the average for all occupations, the competition will be more intense for higher-paying positions that require additional training and experience.

Experience with surveillance systems will boost your chances of getting hired as a gaming surveillance officer.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a Security Officer?

The answer to this question depends on the type of job you are targeting.

In order to receive entry-level employment as a security guard you usually need to be at least 18 years of age and must possess a high school diploma.

Most employers will provide a few weeks of training to their newly hired security officers.

During the training period, you will learn about emergency procedures, how to identify potential criminals and improve your communication skills.

Some states require that security guards receive approximately 8 hours of pre-assignment training, between 8 and 16 hours of on-the-job training and 8 hours of annual training.

Armed guards need additional training and must pass rigorous background checks.

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