Guard Job Description
Guards, also known as security guards or security officers, serve as protection in a variety of scenarios. Guards work public events like professional sports games, concerts, speeches, and political rallies. They’re also employed by schools and universities to keep students on campus safe. Finally, guards can find employment as a private guard for celebrities and other wealthy people. While the work environment varies wildly, all guards focus primarily on safety. Working as a guard is good for those who don’t like to sit all day, as they have to perform routine patrols regardless of work environment. Even during downtime, guards can’t relax. They have to maintain a state of heightened awareness every minute of the day.
The work schedule for this entry-level position depends on the industry. Guards who work for schools get weekends off, for example, while guards who work in a retail setting have to work weekends and holidays. It is possible to work as a guard in both a full-time and part-time capacity, with full-time positions coming with a standard benefits package. Guards collaborate with each other routinely and work under the guidance of the head guard.
Guard Duties and Responsibilities
Keeping public areas or private clients safe is not as simple as you’d think. The following is a list of the most common duties and responsibilities involved in the security process:
Check Patron and Visitor Credentials
Places with sensitive data, such as healthcare and government facilities, rely on guards to verify the credentials of everyone who enters the building. Schools and corporations also rely on guards to check employee and visitor credentials.
Patrol Designated Route Regularly
Guards are assigned a designated area or route to patrol at the beginning of their shifts. They have to maintain heightened awareness to notice any threat to patron or client safety.
Respond Appropriately to Emergency Scenarios
Guards have various emergency procedures memorized. Most places require guards to be CPR certified. Some guards are also armed and trained to respond to a potentially lethal scenario. They have to know when to call in the police, fire department, or an ambulance.
Monitor Security Cameras and Test Security Equipment
This is an important duty for guards who work at facilities with extensive security equipment. Guards conduct regular tests of cameras, security alarms, and sensor systems.
Communicate Irregularities to Other Guards
The success of guards depends on cooperation. They use walkie-talkies to communicate with each other when they see something out of the ordinary. Each employer has its own protocol for this process.
Write and File Incident Reports
Guards write an incident report every time something out of the ordinary happens. The required contents of the incident report depends on the industry.
Guard Skills and Qualifications
Succeeding as a guard takes a unique combination of hard and soft skills, including various technical security techniques acquired from guard certification courses. These are the most important skills and qualifications for becoming a guard:
- First aid – guards learn CPR and other basic first aid techniques during their certification training and call upon these skills in emergency health situations
- Armed and unarmed security techniques – guards are trained to observe and diagnose various threats, diffuse verbal altercations, and properly interact with the public. Armed guards are trained on the proper procedure regarding the use of their firearm
- Physical fitness – subduing unruly patrons or chasing a thief requires strength and stamina, so guards need to maintain good physical fitness
- Teamwork – guards hardly work alone. They use their collaboration skills to perform all of their responsibilities
- Attention to detail – the ability to maintain heightened awareness and constantly pay attention to even the smallest details is required to succeed at this position
- Conflict resolution skills – guards are the front line of defense when it comes to de-escalating a situation. They use conflict resolution skills to break up verbal altercations and calm unruliness until emergency services arrive
- Communication skills – communication is the heart of this position. Guards have to communicate well with each other to keep patrons and clients safe. They must also build rapport with those they are paid to protect
Guard Tools of the Trade
Guards only use a few tools to perform their duties, including:
- Headsets and two-way radios
- Security cameras
- Small firearms (armed guards only)
Guard Education and Training
Guards only need a high school diploma when it comes to formal education, but most states require all guards to be licensed. The program length and course requirements vary from state to state. Armed guards have to go through a separate certification process and must have a pistol permit.
Guard Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for guards is $25,770. Those in the bottom 10 percent make below $22,340, while those in the top 10 percent make above $52,500. It’s expected that demand for guards will rise 5 percent by 2026.
Guard Helpful Resources
The following list of resources was procured for those who want to learn more about the guard profession:
National Association of Security Companies – this organization is geared towards companies rather than individuals, but its member list is a good resource for guards looking for respected employers in their area
Security Guard Training Manual: The American Security Guard – each state has its own certification test, but this book was written as a general guide for guards looking to prepare for their certification test
International Foundation for Protection Officers – the IFPO offers members certification courses as well as a dedicated job board and a network of verified employers
How to Be Your Own Bodyguard: Self Defense for Men & Women from a Lifetime of Protecting Clients in Hostile Environments – while this guide is geared towards more of a DIY audience, there are some useful tips for guards packed in these pages
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