what is a security guard?

As a security guard, you protect a business or non-profit organisation from thieves, assailants, trespassers and other criminals. Your responsibilities as a guard vary depending on your job description. For example, if you work as a security guard (or bouncer) at a nightclub, you block entry for underage people, violent customers and anyone who shouldn't be there. If you work at a museum, you stand inside the building to ensure visitors don't steal or deface the artwork.

Other general responsibilities of a security guard may include inspecting packages and removing people who harass other visitors. While most security guard jobs require writing reports, the position comes with different levels of enforcement. For instance, some guards monitor security cameras and intervene if there are signs of trouble. Some security guards call police officers, ambulances and firefighters in an emergency.

Security guards who patrol their assigned grounds might detain people who break the law. Some guards check everyone who enters a building to ensure that they have valid IDs. Working as a security guard may also involve putting yourself in the line of violence. While a museum guard doesn't often deal with violent visitors, a security guard who works at a nightclub might have to deal with drunk or aggressive customers.

Security guards who work at banks, airports, stadiums and other high-risk areas might need defence and offence training to protect themselves and other visitors. Depending on your job description, you protect customers, employees, merchandise, cash and business interests even if it means putting yourself in danger.

Would working as a security guard suit your passion for protecting people? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a security guard role.

security guard jobs

security guard salary

According to National Careers, a security guard earns an average salary between £18,000 and £32,000 per year based on experience and responsibilities. For instance, a door supervisor who guards licenced premises like bars and nightclubs earns a starting salary of £17,000 annually. The amount increases to £28,000 per year with experience and additional skills.

The salary of a security guard depends on the complexity of the job and the risks involved. For instance, working in a nightclub or bar involves dealing with disorderly behaviour and sometimes break-in attempts. In hospitals, your job is to prevent unauthorised access to various sections, and since thefts are minimal, your job is low risk.

Apart from the base salary, you enjoy medical and life insurance benefits. You also receive overtime pay for working additional hours, and some companies give bonuses to their security guards.

smiling male wearing reflective vest
smiling male wearing reflective vest

types of security guards

Nearly every industry has a position for security guards. Some security guards work at arenas, stadiums and event venues to direct parking and traffic and keep crowds under control. Some types of security guards include:

  • government contract security guards: you protect and secure government buildings and employees if you are a government contract security guard. You need to be highly trained to guard courthouses or military command centres.
  • in-house security guards: as a security guard, you can be hired in-house by a company as opposed to working through a security agency. You work in various settings, from hotels and hospitals to museums and nightclubs.
  • bodyguards: as a personal security guard assigned to protect a dignitary, celebrity or VIP, you need to be highly trained. You have to assess threats in your surroundings and sometimes defend the person under your protection.


working as a security guard

Working as a security guard involves protecting people and business premises from assailants or break-ins and property damage. Here's what you should know about various aspects of this in-demand field:



education and skills

You don't need specific educational qualifications to become a security guard. However, you can boost your prospects with some post-secondary courses. For instance, a course in criminal justice boosts your job prospects.

To work as a security guard legally in the UK, you need a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence for front-line security work. You can apply for the licence if you have prior training in another licence-linked qualification. For instance, acquire qualifications in guarding cash and valuables in transit, CCTV operations or front-line security to get your licence. The licence ensures that you have the skills to protect yourself and do your work safely. Some roles like door supervision require emergency first-aid training.

When you deal with the public, some employers recommend training in public relations. Some employers have their guards take random drug tests throughout the year. If you fail a test, you're probably out of a job.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a security guard include:

  • physical and mental strength: as a security guard, you sometimes have to chase, apprehend and restrain people. You also stand for long hours during patrols. You need physical strength to apprehend people safely.
  • honesty and trustworthiness: as a security guard, you are in charge of valuable items and properties. You need to be trusted to keep the place secure and prevent robberies.
  • quick reflexes: you need to be aware of your surroundings and have quick reflexes in emergencies. You should assess and analyse situations and react quickly to prevent tragedies.
  • rationality: a major part of your job involves making wise decisions and judgement calls. You need to assess whether something is a legitimate threat or not.
smiling male looking at mobile device
smiling male looking at mobile device


FAQs about working as a security guard

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