Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Typical compensation for an unarmed security guard was around $28,000 in 2011, but pay varies based on the sector in which the guard works. Some guards may make close to what an armed guard or police officer makes if they have enough experience, but generally, they receive the lowest compensation out of the three types of law enforcement personnel.
According to the SimplyHired website, unarmed security guards made $28,000 per year, as of June, 2011. Under a typical 40-hour week, this is the same as roughly $13.46 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average annual pay for security guards, both armed and unarmed, was $26,870, or about $12.92 hourly, in 2010.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that those in the "Security Guard" category made $17,130 in the lowest 10th percentile. In the 90th percentile, pay was $41,240. These figures equate to $8.23 and $19.83 respectively. The bureau also shows that average pay exceeded $50,000 in some sectors.
Pay by Sector
By far, the highest-employing sector for security guards in 2010 was investigation and security services, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This sector provided 578,330 jobs in 2010, with pay that averaged $25,010 yearly, or $12.02 per hour. However, other sectors paid much more. The highest-paying sector was taxi and limousine services, which paid $52,300. Natural gas distribution employers paid $51,570. Electric power generation, transport and distribution employers provided compensation averaging $45,540. Pay was $44,350 in the transit and ground passenger transportation sector and $44,270 with wired telecommunications carriers.
Pay by State
Pay was best for security guards in 2010 in the District of Columbia, according to the bureau. Pay was $37,870 in that area. Washington paid $37,190, Alaska compensated with $35,470 and Idaho gave $31,590. Virginia also was a top-paying region with pay of $31,290. The lowest paying regions included West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Pay ranged between $22,570 and $23,370 in those areas.
The SimplyHired website indicates that armed security guards made an average yearly compensation of $48,000, as of June, 2011. This is $20,000 more than the average for unarmed guards. Similarly, police officers made $55,620 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even though unarmed security guards, armed security guards and police officers all work toward the same general goals, armed security guards and police officers make more because they receive more extensive training; police officers are not limited to one building the way guards are, and perform law enforcement duties for which guards are not authorized.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010 - 33-9032 Security Guards
- SimplyHired: Average Security Guard Salaries
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010 - 33-3051 Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
- SimplyHired: Average Unarmed Security Guard Salaries
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.