Security guards have an important role in the criminal justice system. They provide a constant patrol in vulnerable areas, offering ongoing protection that goes above and beyond what local police resources can provide. If you are focused, vigilant, and detail-oriented, this career may be well-suited to your talents. You'll need to spend long periods either patrolling your area or watching security cameras to ensure that your designated area is well-protected.
What is a Security Guard?
Security guards are safety officers who monitor the activity in a particular area. A security officer's job requires constant vigilance to ensure that individuals, buildings, and property are well-protected. These professionals have an important job in a variety of different settings, from public malls to higher risk locations like banks.
In many instances, the mere presence of a security officer will help deter crime. However, security officers must know how to respond appropriately if a crime does occur. These professionals are responsible for responding to emergencies, detaining violators, enforcing laws, and filing reports. Though a security professional doesn't have the same legal powers as a police officer, he or she must still know how to properly uphold the law within the scope of their job responsibilities.
Security officers work closely with other professionals in this area, including police officers and undercover store detectives. They will report suspicious or criminal activity to the proper authorities, detain criminals as needed, and take action to stop crime before it occurs when possible.
- Patrolling the surveillance area
- Establishing a security presence
- Monitoring security cameras
- Reviewing prior security footage
- Permitting entrance through security gates
- Removing trespassers from the area
- Detaining those involved in criminal activity
- Investigating suspicious persons
- Responding promptly to alarms
- Generating reports on surveillance activities
- Assisting others in the event of an emergency
- Monitoring key access points
- Securing doors and other entry points
- Sounding alarms for criminal activity
- Contacting law enforcement as needed
- Complying with all laws
- Performing preventive maintenance on security systems
- Conducting security checks
- Operating and monitoring metal detectors and other preventive security installations
What is the Career Outlook for Security Guards?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for security guards is expected to increase 6 percent over the 2016 to 2026 decade. This is moderately less than the national average of 7 percent expected for all professions in the United States. Security guards will have relatively stable job opportunities as individuals continue to need protection in a variety of locations. Other positions in this industry will have slower job growth. Employment opportunities for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators will only increase by 4 percent over the same period. Video surveillance and advanced technology to prevent cheating will minimize some of the opportunities available in this area.
Though entry-level security guards should have little trouble finding employment, competition is stiff for higher-paying positions that require more training and experience. Equipping yourself with a well-rounded educational background will help improve your employability in this industry.
Where Do Security Guards Work?
Security guards are needed in a broad range of locations and industries. They monitor retail locations, airports, storage facilities, office buildings, gated communities, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 58 percent of security guards work in investigation, guard, and armored car services. These service providers may place guards in any location where they maintain a contract. Six percent of security officers work in educational services, six percent are in accommodation and food service, and six percent work in healthcare.
Security guards are needed in locations throughout the country. However, the highest number of security guards is found in California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. The highest concentration of security guards per thousand jobs is found in the District of Columbia, Nevada, Hawaii, New York, and Maryland.
What are the Training Requirements for Security Guards?
Security guards need a minimum of a high school diploma for employment in this field. In positions where the guard carries a firearm, he or she must be registered with the state. Registration is required for some unarmed positions as well.
Employers typically provide on-the-job training for their security officers. However, having a relevant diploma in this area can improve your employability. The Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma from Bryant & Stratton College is a 30-credit-hour program that includes courses like Security in the 21st Century, Justice Information Systems, and Law Enforcement & the Multicultural Community. These can give job seekers a well-rounded background that will make them better candidates for a career as a security guard.
What Can I Do With a Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma?
A criminal justice and security services diploma will equip you for a variety of jobs in this industry. Security positions can go by many titles. These types of jobs may also focus on a variety of specialty areas. As you're looking for a job in security or criminal justice, you should keep an eye out for job titles such as:
- Security services and safety system support
- Armored car driver
- Security infrastructure and enterprise services
- Security gate officer
- Air courier guard
- Crossing guard
- Alarm investigator
- Retail floorman
- Night watchman
- Loss prevention officer
- Theft prevention officer
- Retail investigator
Students interested in the Criminal Justice Studies Associate Degree program must first successfully complete the Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma. Completion of either or both programs does not guarantee a student has met all the requirements for employment in the criminal justice field. The Bryant & Stratton College’s programs are educational programs and the college makes no representations regarding whether a particular program will qualify a graduate for employment in any specific position, is necessary for attaining any such position or whether potential employers may require additional training or education.* Before enrolling in a program, potential students are encouraged to consult any relevant agency with which the student may wish to seek employment for a complete list of position requirements and pre- requisites. All applicants should be aware that criminal justice employers may consider numerous factors when determining eligibility or suitability for employment including but not limited to: criminal background screening, citizenship, state residency, physical and psychological health, age and military discharge information. A criminal conviction and or record of certain other conduct may prevent or hinder a graduate’s employment as a law enforcement officer or other positions in security, corrections and others depending upon the requirements in various jurisdictions.
*Virginia residents should be aware that neither program will provide the required training for entry level positions in law enforcement, corrections, armed security, certain unarmed security and other careers requiring certification, licensure, or registration with the Virginial Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Students who complete these programs in Virginia will be required to obtain certification through DCJS- approved training facilities to meet minimum requirements for those positions.
Keep in mind that all statistical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is intended to provide averages and educated predictions only. This is not a guarantee of employment or job opportunities. This information can give you valuable insights into the security industry, but unexpected factors may impact the future of the industry.
For more information on the security industry and job opportunities within this area, check out the criminal justice section of our blog. You'll find a wealth of information to help you plan a successful future in this industry.