Security Guard

Patrolman, Custom Protection Officer, Security Checker, Security Officer, Security Supervisor  
A Day In The Life

Being a security guard can be fun, exciting, or downright boring. It depends mostly on the assignment. Though some companies have their own security staff, more often than not, security is hired on a contractual basis. I worked on and off for several years as a contract security guard while pursuing my degree in criminal justice at a local college. Most of the jobs involved asset protection: construction sites, car lots, even the farmers market. This was part of the "bad": Guarding watermelons and potted plants can get fairly monotonous at 3 a.m. The good parts were the occasional concert, carnival, or local community event. These type of assignments usually mean better hours, seeing people -- and every now and then, a free hot dog. After I spent almost a decade as a police officer, a local chemical plant decided to "professionalize" their security following the deaths of 3,000 people in India from the release of one of their chemicals. Though the company never admitted fault (they never do), there was a general feeling that some type of "vigilante" revenge may be coming their way. So, they decided to hire a staff of security guards who either had a degree in criminal justice or five years of experience in law enforcement. I had both. I also had a close friend who worked in the company's employment division. So, it seemed to be "destiny." The good Great pay. Twelve-hour rotating shifts with a seven-day break once a month. Six hours on the job were spent in the guard shack signing people in and checking passes. Six hours were spent as the "rover" -- unlocking gates, taking reports and walking through buildings. The bad As part of the security department in a facility that manufactures chemicals, one of the responsibilities included being a part of the Emergency Response Team. At first, our role was traffic control, and fairly simple. Then someone in management realized that we were almost always the first to arrive, and felt we should have more training in first aid, firefighting, and hazardous- material containment. This job was becoming less and less the piece of cake.

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Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

5% - Slower than average
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Typical Wages:

Annual: $21,290 - $34,620

Hourly: $10 - $17