Bodyguards take on low-key and high-risk situations to keep clients and their families safe. They may work for celebrities, lawyers of high-profile cases, CEOs of powerful companies, political figures or others in need of protection. Clients seek varying qualities in bodyguards based on their needs. Some may hire applicants who have no experience and can be trained, while others may prefer bodyguards who have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field.
Education and Knowledge
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most security-related jobs require a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent. Bodyguards achieve a wealth of knowledge just from hands-on experience. They must be aware of minor details in every situation, such as what's required of them, when plans need to be made and where to go in case of a disturbance. In addition, bodyguards should know how to use pepper spray, firearms and other weapons.
Skills and Abilities
Successful bodyguards are patient, observant, persistent and reliable. They have physical strength, stamina, and good near and far vision. Clients may have their bodyguards on standby while they're giving interviews, participating in meetings or otherwise engaged and distracted. They rely on their bodyguards to stay focused on surveying the area for threats and identifying hazards, including groups of paparazzi or suspicious packages. Guards must be skilled in analyzing, speaking, active listening, critical thinking and decision-making.
Tests and Training
Bodyguards may be required to take a drug test before they're hired or periodically during employment. Those who are armed may occasionally be tested on their accuracy and the use of firearms. The BLS notes that most states urge employers to train security personnel on topics such as public relations, first aid and protection. Guidelines vary by state, but most suggest about eight hours of pre-assignment training, eight hours of annual training, and between eight and 16 hours of on-the-job training.
Registration and Licenses
Many states require bodyguards to be registered. For example, Illinois requires candidates to be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, submit to fingerprinting and complete a 20-hour basic training course. Armed bodyguards in Illinois must be at least 21 years old and take a 20-hour firearm training course. The BLS reports that more states are requiring guards to complete annual training to maintain registration. Armed bodyguards must also maintain their weapon registration with the appropriate government authority.