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How Much Do Security Guards Make?

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In real life, there's much more to the job of security guard than what's portrayed in the movies. Security guards perform a range of tasks related to private security. The job is a great stepping stone for people considering a career in law enforcement or other forms of private security, such as becoming a bodyguard. Learn everything you need to know about a career as a security guard if you think this is the career for you.

What Do Security Guards Do?

Tasks assigned to security guards can, and often do, vary greatly, depending on the employer. Common tasks include patrolling the property, securing the premises, monitoring surveillance, inspecting buildings, controlling access to a building or area and detaining criminal offenders.

Specific tasks will be determined by the needs of the employer and can change depending on the size and layout of the building or area being secured, the type of business or establishment and the number of security guards employed. Companies with larger security teams may ask for more specialization, whereas a smaller company with fewer guards is more likely to require them to perform multiple tasks.

In a retail setting, a security guard might be expected to help detain shoplifters and to guard displays against acts of vandalism. At a bar or nightclub, however, a security guard might focus more on breaking up fights and checking I.D.s to ensure no minors enter the establishment.

How to Become a Security Guard

The requirements for becoming a security guard vary by state. For example, California requires that security guards complete a specific training course. This course familiarizes applicants with a variety of skills, including threat assessment, identifying evidence, recognizing gender and racial stereotyping and discrimination, and first aid and CPR. New York requires that security guards complete eight hours of initial training and up to 16 hours of annual followup training. Some states waive initial training requirements if you have with prior experience in law enforcement.

It's important to check the specific requirements in your state; most require specific training and additional firearms certifications, if you'll be armed. A high school diploma is also a standard requirement.

How Much Do Security Guards Make?

Pay for security guards varies depending on experience and assignment, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for security guards as of May 2016 is $37,040 annually. Pay tends to be higher for security guards working for the government than in the private sector.

Job outlook in the field is comparable to the average for all occupations; overall employment for security guards is expected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026.

The highest overall wages for security guards can be found in Alaska, District of Columbia, Washington State, Idaho and Maryland. The states that employ the most security guards, however, are California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois.

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About the Author

Kayleigh Roberts is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. She has written about careers for Discover and HelloGiggles.