How to Become an
Unarmed Security Guard

A security guard standing with his arms crossed in front of a door

Are you interested in protecting people and looking into a career as an Unarmed Security Guard? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This guide has all the information you’ll need to explore the path to becoming an Unarmed Security Guard, with education and salary info and much more.

What Does an Unarmed Security Guard Do?

An Unarmed Security Guard is a type of public safety officer that protects and surveys an assigned area for illegal activities, suspicious behavior, or dangerous situations, without carrying a weapon. Unarmed Security Guards work in all kinds of places, including retail stores, residences, entertainment venues, hospitals, banks and power plants.

An Unarmed Security Guard’s primary role is to monitor and protect the property to which they are assigned against criminal activity and damage. They monitor the flow of people and activities, always on the lookout for suspicious behavior, and respond to emergencies. Some are stationed at a specific point of entry, such as a gatehouse or door, while others patrol the area on foot or in a vehicle. Some common Unarmed Security Guard duties and responsibilities include:

  • Patrol an area on foot or vehicle and conduct security checks. May be in charge of ensuring the security of a building or area, needing to routinely patrol the area to identify anything unusual.

  • Monitor closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras. Unarmed Security Guards are always on the lookout for suspicious or illegal activity, such as shoplifting or vandalism.

  • Detain violators. If illegal activity is observed, Unarmed Security Guards may detain the violators until authorities can take them into custody.

  • Control access for employees and visitors. Unarmed Security Guards may man the access point to a building, verifying visitor’s identities and using a metal detector to check their belongings.

  • Respond to emergencies. In the case of criminal activity or other emergencies, Unarmed Security Guards notify police, fire, or ambulance services and secure the area prior to their arrival.

Unarmed Security Guard Skills

The job of the Unarmed Security Guard requires constant vigilance despite doing often-repetitive tasks. Employers look to hire observant, detail-oriented candidates who can stay focused and won’t be easily distracted or bored. Unarmed Security Guards need to be able to respond to emergencies with a calm head, and react well to stressful or dangerous scenarios. This requires strong decision-making abilities, too. Unarmed Security Guard often interact with the public on a routine basis, so good people skills are also a plus.

Other key Unarmed Security Guard skills include:

  • Physical Fitness to be able to follow and apprehend offenders

  • Good communication skills, especially active listening

  • Ability to read and write, and to document observations in a security log.

  • Ability to work flexible hours, including nights and weekends.

How Do You Become an Unarmed Security Guard?

Education and Training

Based on our analysis of Unarmed Security Guard job postings, we’ve found that becoming an Unarmed Security Guard usually requires a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Training for the position is usually supplied by the employer, and the type and length of training varies based on the employer and job duties. On average, the training takes place over a few weeks, during which the new hire learns essentials of the job such as emergency procedures, detention of suspected criminals, securing a property and proper communication.

Along with the pre-assignment training, Unarmed Security Guard will usually receive on-the-job training. They will probably also be required to take a certain amount of annual specialized training to improve their skills, covering areas such as protection, public relations, report writing and first aid.

As an Unarmed Security Guard there us usually no registration or licensing required. However, to become an armed security guard you will likely need to undergo rigorous background checks and training, and be registered with the state in which you will be working.

Finding a job

Job prospects for Unarmed Security Guards are strong and are expected to keep getting better over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5 percent growth for all Security Guards, both armed and unarmed, by 2024, creating more than 55,000 new jobs. The huge number of jobs, coupled with the high turnover in the industry, should mean plenty of job openings for Unarmed Security Guards.

To land one of these jobs for yourself, start your job search with a high-quality resume that highlights your skills and experience. For guidance on creating a resume, take a look at our library of Unarmed Security Guard resume samples.

Once you’ve crafted an outstanding resume, search online for Unarmed Security Guard job opportunities. As you look for openings, be sure to leverage your professional network, including people you met through previous jobs or education.

After you find an Unarmed Security Guard job or jobs you’d like to apply for, you’ll need to write a strong cover letter that expresses your interest in the position and highlights why you’re qualified for the role. For cover letter inspiration, check out our collection of cover letter samples.

Insights from an Unarmed Security Guard

To give you a better idea of what goes into becoming an Historian, we talked to Robert D. Sollars, a 33-year security veteran who started his career as a guard. Here’s what he told us.

What is the common career path for an Unarmed Security Guard?

Because of the turnover rate there is no path unless you make your own. If you are fortunate then the contractor will recognize your brilliance and begin to promote you up the ladder. You can progress to supervisor, manager, and if you are lucky up the ladder to a corporate position.

What should someone consider before becoming an Unarmed Security Guard?

Are they willing and able to work any shift and any hours they are needed? This is one of the true requirements of the field. Another is that generally you can be alone for up to 12 - 16 hours at a time in a dark warehouse on the weekend. Can they handle people swearing at them and blaming them for everything that happens bad to them because of something that management did or said? Are they detailed oriented? Can they be hyper vigilant about sounds in the facility especially if they are after hours and they are the only ones there? Do they truly like helping people and not just something temporary? Do they get satisfaction knowing that their job is done correctly and that they will never know if they stop a crime? Are they interested in learning both at work and away from it?

What type of person excels in this job?

Someone who is dedicated to helping others and wants to contribute to society by protecting lives, property, and staying alert to any type of threat. Also, having a customer service background is extremely helpful. When I was hiring, I always looked for someone who could think outside-of-the-box to solve problems.

What are some of the most important skills for an Unarmed Security Guard to have? 

Customer service, creativity, ability to notice the little things, detailed oriented, doesn’t mind being alone and works well either alone or with others. Additionally, it does help to be curious and willing to learn, adapt, and change quickly as the circumstances change.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being an Unarmed Security Guard?

For me it was the fact of safeguarding the lives and property of the client I worked for. It’s not often you’ll get one person protecting dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of people and billions of dollars of equipment on a daily basis.

Add to that the idea that the field is constantly changing and evolving. It makes it exciting to be a part of the international community - from fighting terrorism and workplace violence to ordinary crime such as theft and vandalism.

How Much Do Unarmed Security Guards Get Paid?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, the median yearly salary in the United States for all Security Guards, Armed and Unarmed, is $24,630. The lowest 10 percent of Security Guards earned less than $18,350 per year, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $45,010 annually.

Top 10 States for Unarmed Security Guard Salary

Unarmed Security Guards in the following states make the highest median annual wage in the U.S.

    District of Columbia

    $36,760

    Alaska

    $36,470

    Washington

    $30,180

    Minnesota

    $29,930

    New York

    $29,830

    Virginia

    $29,640

    Wyoming

    $28,680

    North Dakota

    $28,300

    New Hampshire

    $28,230

    Illinois

    $28,190

    Unarmed Security Guard Resources

    We put together this handy list of additional resources to help you find even more information as you continue to explore a career as an Historian.

    On the Web

    GuardPartner
    This website provides training and useful information to begin a career as an Unarmed Security Guard.

    EduGuard
    While focused on online training, this website also has a great blog with lots of tips and insights into the job requirements of an Unarmed Security Guard.

    Industry Groups

    National Association of Security Companies
    NASCO represents private security companies, and the website has lots of industry news, events and other resources.

    International Foundation for Protection Officers
    This global organization offers education and training for Unarmed Security Guards, as well as news and a blog.